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“Disez à la classe que je leur manque…”

Where do I start? I’ve really no overall comment to start with, except that I did my best and it’s still not good enough.

Well, if I thought 105 minutes was early, then this was insane: the first person in this exam left just 80 minutes after the start. 80 minutes. At 80 minutes I was just starting to plan my writing — the third of three papers. By the time 100 minutes had passed half the class had left! How they finished in that time, I have no idea.

The last person before me left at 125 minutes, and then I started to feel the pressure. I mean, I was the only one in the class left. Wouldn’t you feel pressure to finish? The supervisor was very patient with me. I also had to go toilet (maybe four-and-a-half glasses was too much, if one was too little), so I left after 145 minutes — 35 minutes before the exam was to finish.

The first reading passage was interesting. It was about a girl from France who smokes, and then came here as an exchange student and got caught smoking in school. And how she’s decided to quit, but she craves one last cigarette.

For writing, as far as I could see, I only had one choice. There was no way I was writing a diary entry. The party we could "organise" had to be at my house, so there was nothing I could do there. And writing about your life is a bit hard when you don’t really have one. So, I wrote about an arrival to France. It set a very interesting context: I was from England and I had arrived at a seaside town, and I had to write a postcard to my teacher.

So in a bid to impress the marker, I used as many structures as I could. One thing I could do, I thought, is ask this teacher to say hi to the class for me. Even better, use an imperative! So I wrote, "Dites à la classe pour moi, s’il vous plaît, que je leur manque.". But then, I thought, dire is an exception to the every-imperative-is-the-same-as-present-tense rule. So I changed it to "Disez". And, thinking I’d take the chance (well, actually, I was fairly confident about this one), I used "manquer" to mean "to miss someone". (Hence the intended translation of the sentence above is, "Tell the class for me, please, that I miss them".)

Well, as I find out, the correct imperative is indeed dites, and for "manquer", the subject and object are the other way round — so it should be ils me manquent. Two errors in one sentence! And both of which "significantly hinder communication". (Hence the actual translation of my sentence was, "*?* the class for me, please, that they miss me." The *?* refers to a non-existent word. And funny when you get someone to tell a class that they miss you!)

Perhaps the marker will find a way to see that communication wasn’t "achieved overall", and therefore fail me for that paper. If he doesn’t, then I fail what was my minimum goal for this year — to make it through free of achieveds. Damn. I shouldn’t have left so early.

Oh, well… there’s nothing I can do about it now, so there’s no point fretting about it… I may as well sit back, relax and stress about this upcoming physics exam.


A criterion for achievement in writing in a second language is that "communication is achieved overall, despite errors in language". For merit, the equivalent criterion is that "Any errors do not significantly hinder communication".

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2 Comments Post a comment
  1. Lucy #

    lol \’u shudnt have left so early\’?! wat the hell… that isnt early. i left like one hour and a half into the exam. not saying that ill get straight excellences, just saying it wasn\’t that difficult

    24 November 2005
  2. Jeremy #

    lalala. i only speak 1 language. Engglich. and me talk it goodly,

    25 November 2005

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