They may be preconceived when faced in the present, blocking consideration, but they came from somewhere. They were conceived at some point based upon something. The evidence for them at their creation may have been faulty, but for some reason, they took hold. Strongly.
While I was living in Germany during my late elementary and early junior high years, I fell in love with books written by Louisa May Alcott. I think I read them all. Of course, the first one I read was Little Women.
Occasionally, there would be a line written in French, centered, set off, in italics. It looked frilly to me. The little French I was exposed to, when compared to English and German, sounded, to me, the way it looked in italics type. Frilly.
While I like dresses, heels, make-up, jewelry, and receiving flowers–I am not frilly in other ways. I do not like arts and crafts and do not arrange flowers. I do not have a Pinterest account.
Plus, I could not understand the French in the novel. I just skipped over it. In my young, stubborn, probably easily-choosing-absolutes mind, French was not fairing well.
Then, I moved back to the States and, unbelievably, my new junior high and high school only offered two languages–Latin and French. My classmates started French in seventh grade. I moved there in eighth grade. The school probably would have accommodated me and I probably could have caught up,* but I felt it was very clear evidence of yet another negative trait of the language–its audacity to be the only one offered in junior high (Latin had to wait for high school). So, I stood my ground against being coerced into taking a language written in italics typeface in novels, and, instead, took two years of Latin in high school.
The French teacher in the high school was well liked by my classmates, and I liked him, too. He always included me when he talked with my friends (who all took French).
What I wouldn’t give to go back, realize that judging an entire language by the choice of typeface made by a printer was silly, and take French. Latin served me well. I think all knowledge serves the acquirer. But, French is a language of international organizations.
My interaction with a book I loved, which was, ironically, a book that found value in knowing French, stopped me from learning the language, at all.
But, I hold the optimistic belief that it is never too late for any skill acquisition and that consistency, even in small amounts, is the key. (Large amounts would be better, but small amounts is all I have right now. So, I believe in the power of consistency, on its own merits.)
When I need a break from work and from bar study and all the other important demands of life, I have been tackling French with Duolingo. Very considerately, the lessons are quite short.
A tiny bit at a time,
to take me back in time
to rewrite the preconceived notions of my youth.
*The school accommodated me with band, and my parents paid for private flute lessons until I caught up (although, luckily, I could already read music from years of piano lessons). Another example of my frilliness-in-moderation exists here as well–I played the flute in concert band, but I was a rifle in marching band. Not a flag. (Piccolo was a little much to ask of a beginner flautist.)