Eve Hershberger (PhD French, 1975)
Language News and Adventures from Miami Beach (SOBE), Florida
Here in SOBE where I live now one does not need to travel far to have an international language experience. Today I first walked from the condo to Espanola Way for a sidewalk crepe and croissant petit déjeuner at A la Folie Café. The waiter was from Nice. When I asked for l’addition, we exchanged a few French pleasantries. We said we would see each other à bientot.
Back at the condo I shared the elevator with my upstairs neighbor from Romania who of course speaks Romanian but also English and Spanish. In the same elevator were a man and woman. The man quickly said, “We are residents.” The wife didn’t seem to understand me when I said, “Habla usted espanol,” so I tried English. “What language do you speak?” She still didn’t understand but smiled and nodded. He replied, “Portuguese.” I forgot to ask, “Brazil or Portugal?” but instead remarked that I had bought an English-Portuguese book so that one of the therapists at the Fort Myers crisis stabilization hospital where I work as a psychiatrist could teach me Portuguese pronunciation and conversation. Creole is quite often encountered on the Florida west coast and is spoken by more than one of the hospital staff members.
Once more at the condo I took some time to watch the news in Spanish (for practice), then read aloud in French (for practice and “to keep my hand in” as they say) a paragraph from my parallel English/French copies of Balzac’s Le Chef d’oeuvre inconnu/The Unknown Masterpiece before heading off again walking. The destination this time was Whole Foods for take-out from a deli which features, as it does in Gainesville, selections from several international cuisines.
Once there I thought I had been transported into several different countries at the same time. There were several people speaking various varieties of Spanish. There was a couple from Montréal speaking French. Another couple was debating selections in German; another couple doing the same in Italian; and yet another in Russian. The international adventures of living in Miami Beach might best be summed up in this photo where I am reflected enjoying one of the creative offerings from world-wide galleries at the famous Art Basel annual event.
About the Author
Eve Hershberger is a 1975 graduate from the first language/literature doctoral program offered at UF. Through scholarship, presentations and writing she continues to blend her interests in language, literature, psychiatry and psychology. Her most recent invitation presentation at the international Congress on Mental Health in Paris carried the message “Balzac’s Manic Creativity Thankfully Not Diminished by Medication.”