David Sedaris’ “Me Talk Pretty One Day” adds a comedic touch to his experience of learning a foreign language. The essay takes place in France where he is taking a French class to learn the language; he believes this class will be simple. His professor verbally attacks each student, which defeats Sedaris’ spirit for learning the language. He recognizes his language skills are not up to par with his classmates so he studies every night.
He then stops participating in class because he feels that everything he says is incorrect. Sedaris realizes learning a language can’t be done with just textbook concepts but with understanding the language itself through experience. Sedaris uses descriptive language and comedy to appeal to his audience and keep them interested. Sedaris uses descriptive language to keep the readers interest through the story. When a classmate fails to know a verb tense Sedaris described that “the teacher poked her eyelid with a freshly sharpen pencil” (585).
Sedaris uses words that describe the scene exactly as the reader would see it through their own eyes. He uses colorful words to paint a picture in our minds.
This descriptive language keeps the reader alert to what is happening in the essay. Also in Sedaris’ essay, since he does not completely understand what his teacher says he creates jargon to substitute for some of the words. Sedaris’ writes, “If you not meimslsxp or lgpdmurct by this time, then you should not be in this room” (555).
Having jargon in the essay keeps the readers engaged because at first glance you may over look these words, but looking deeper you see that Sedaris really doesn’t understand the key words his professor is saying. Sedaris essay is uneventful and could be characterized as dry but with his humor it helps bring the essay to life to keep the reader on their toes. His style of writing grabs the reader’ attention and keeps it throughout the essay by using humor and painting a picture.
Sedaris, David. “Me Talk Pretty One Day.” 100 Greatest Essay. 4th ed. New York: Penguin Academics, 2008. Print.
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