EVANSTON, Ill. — Third-year Northwestern student and native English speaker Karl Singer recently returned from a semester in France and sources have confirmed he is as equally capable of being disliked when speaking French as he is when speaking English.
Singer’s peers report that before he departed for a three-month exchange program in Lyon, he had already earned a well-known reputation for self-indulgent rambling, heavy handed sarcasm, and a combative tenor when communicating in English. Yet after only one semester of foreign-language immersion, Singer is now as repellent when speaking French as when speaking English, sometimes more so.
Classmate Doug Sluis recently witnessed an incident in a campus cafeteria that exhibited Karl’s penchant for douching it up in two languages: “He’s in line and he calls over to the cafeteria worker, ‘Garçon, can you tell me if you’re out of pommes frites, s’il vous plaît?’ When the poor guy just stared at him, Karl feigns embarrassment and says, ‘Oh pardonnez-moi, mon frere! What I meant was are there more french fries? If you please.’
“Who the hell just momentarily forgets he’s in the Midwest and ‘accidentally’ slips in and out of French? And ‘If you please’? I don’t think they even say s’il vous plaît in France much.”
“I am not his friend,” added Sluis.
Singer’s reputation among his professors has also suffered since returning from his semester abroad. Professor James Wagner of the English Department had this to say about Singer: “I encourage my students to maintain an academic tone during discussion, but for each of his contributions to contain a je ne c’est quoi or a magnifique or a joie de vivre and often times all three in the same comment? For crying out loud, sometimes I’d like to tell him, ‘Go ahead and fellate yourself already.’
“I’m sorry, that was rude,” added Wagner. “Go ahead and fellate yourself, s’il vous plaît.”
When asked for comment, Singer responded, “Sacre bleu! People dislike me this much? Well, c’est la vie, I suppose. I could go around worrying about what people think about me, but as they say in Gay Paree, que sera, sera.”
Mathias Muschal has a name that might suggest he’s bilingual but in reality he’s barely lingual.
Image by carlosalarconartarte.