It was in the year of the Queen’s silver jubilee (and so, horrifically, 35 years ago) that I started to learn the French language. I think this may have been the first time that I became aware that my memory was better than that of the average bear (I am also unable to resist a pic-er-nic basket). Each week the splendid Mr Harlow would set a test, either on current new vocabulary or a verb conjugation we had just learned. Each week I would do no preparation and each week I would score top marks in the test (I was a terrible swat). In those days, once seen, never forgotten. Now, I’m lucky if I can hold a thought in my head for more than a few seconds – though, I do still try to live without any preparation.
Another important part of learning French was translating la plus belle langue du monde (see, I haven’t lost it) into my mother tongue (or failing that, English). I seem to recall much of this translation involved the rather limited (not to say, dull) adventures of Marie-France, Jean-Paul et Claudette. I was taught never to use the verb “to get” in these translations, though I no longer remember why: perhaps it was because there is no equivalent verb in French since “get” is used to cover a multitude of sins (Mr Collins has 35 separate meanings, and I’m sure the OED could muster significantly more).
Mr Harlow would probably be pleased to know that this piece of his teaching has stuck fast in at least one pupil. To this day, 50% of three score and ten years later, I find that I am still almost unable to use the verb “to get” in a blog post, email or other writing. I can do it, but I it’s always a struggle and when I succumb I feel that I have somehow let myself down. I find myself wondering whether any readers of GofaDM have a similar aversion to this mainly transitive verb? Or is it only me?