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“Me talk pretty one day” is an article by David Sedaris about him learning French as an adult, presented in a humorous manner. The name of this work relates to Sedaris’ life in France while he could not speak French fluently. Hence, in this article, the reader can witness the French lessons that Sedaris took, and all the mistakes he made, and the issues he faced along the way. The goal of David Sedaris in “Me talk pretty one day” is to create a narrative that a reader can relate to by using humor and informal language.
Sedaris uses humor to illustrate his life Sedaris’ intent is to show that people struggle with similar things in life. He shows that while trying to learn French, he felt out of place. At the first meeting of his class, their supervisor talked in French only, and he could not understand half of what she said (Sedaris, 2007). While reading this, one can recall a similar event and relate to the author’s experience. Sedaris (2007) is forty years old, yet with his knowledge of French, he is “a true debutant” (para. 1). Hence, by writing about situations where Sedaris felt out of place in a humorous manner, the author is able to communicate with a reader better.
The informal descriptions that Sedaris uses to add a unique style to his writing. He is telling a story about himself but inserts jokes or humorous recollections. Sedaris (2007) writes, “I am now twice as frightened as I was when, at the age of twenty, I allowed a failed nursing student to inject me with a horse tranquilizer” (para. 3). Here, he uses humor to show the audience that he, as a human being, gets nervous and anxious. In other instances, he writes about making mistakes, which is also an experience most people can relate to. For example, Sedaris (2007) reports that during his French lesson, he “managed to mispronounce IBM and afford the wrong gender to both the floor waxer and the typewriter” (para. 14). Similarly, the readers may recall situations when they felt the same way and use humor to overcome their anxiety.
Despite Sedaris using humor in his writing, the themes he discusses are serious. One example is the labels attached to people by society, such as a forty years old man who decides to learn something new being viewed as unusual. Another example is shown at one of the French lessons, where Sedaris (2007) recalls the teacher asking a Yugoslavian girl if she liked the war. During this paragraph, the humor is mixed with some serious issues, for example, the style of teaching their French professor has selected.
Later on, Sedaris refers to this teacher as a “presence of a wild animal” yet, because he uses humor throughout, the reader can understand that this experience is not, in fact, terrifying or threatening to the students (Sedaris, 2007, para. 17). It is more likely that Sedaris tries to argue that although their French teacher was despicable at times, they still managed to learn.
Moreover, the type of writing Sedaris (2017) uses is mostly informal, which also helps connect with the audience. He describes his experience from his viewpoint, and this choice of perspective is also an essential element of delivering this story. The goal here is to create a sense of Sedaris talking to a friend as if he was sharing his experience of learning French in France and the anxiety and fears he had during this process. The choice of language and writing style Sedaris uses is ideal for creating this atmosphere, and although this is not a one on one conversation, the reader can forget that they are holding a book and not talking to Sedaris.
Sedaris’ choice of style is appropriate for the audience who will be reading this article. This is a nonfiction, nonscientific piece published in Esquire, and later on, presented as a full-length book. The name of this article also hints at the type of style and writing strategies Sedaris applies, since the title is “Me talk pretty one day,” which is grammatically incorrect. However, if Sedaris was to name his work, “I will talk nicely in French one day,” the audiences’ expectations would differ.
Since there is no humor in the title, one would expect an article based on the author’s experience of learning French, written in a professional manner. Perhaps, the audience would expect some useful advice on how to learn French from such a title. Hence, Sedaris masterfully applies his unique writing style even in the title of this article to prepare the reader and communicate the general purpose of this writing piece.
In summary, in this paper, the author argues that Sedaris applies his unique writing style to create a humorous article that a reader can easily relate to because similar things might have happened to them as well. This experience of analyzing an essay by Sedaris (2007) has shown me that a choice of writing style is crucial. It allows communicating the purpose of the work and allows creating a connection with the reader.
Sedaris, D. (2007). Me talk pretty one day. Esquire. Web.