Interview: Laura K. Lawless – 1
Laura K. Lawless is a true Francophile, a freelance translator, the guide of the french language authority site French.about.com.
She has also written seven books about language: four on French and three on Spanish.
What are three adjectives to describe Laura K Lawless, the person?
Playful, adventurous, hard-working
What is your connection to France? You describe yourself as a ‘French fanatic’. What does that mean to you?
As far as I know, there’s no French in my family tree, but when I’m in France, I feel like I’m home. I visited for the first time when I was 15 and fell in love – with the country. I call myself a fanatic because I love just about everything about this place: the language, the people, the big cities, the tiny villages, the food, the wine… After my three-month ‘six corners of the Hexagon’ trip last summer, it’s no exaggeration to say that I have seen more of France than most French people.
What do you like about living there? And where exactly in the south of France do you live now?
I live in Menton, less than a kilometer from the Italian border. I love many things about living here (see above), but the very best part is speaking French every day. I like how everyone always says “Bonjour”, even when climbing on the bus or getting in line, and I love that everyone says “Bon appétit”around lunch time, whether or not you’re actually sitting at a table together.
Menton – Fête du citron
Why do you think it’s important for people to learn another language?
It’s good for you! It will help you understand your own language and culture. And when you travel, you might meet people who speak your language, but your interactions will be limited to what they know. If you speak their language, you’re limited only by yourself. You’ll make deeper connections and get to know the place a lot better if you speak the language.
What are your interests outside of languages/translation?
I love to cook so much that I suspect that in a parallel universe, I’m a famous vegetarian chef! I also love reading, movies, and swimming.
Menton – La voile
How have you found living as a vegetarian in France? Do you have any advice for our members?
The French are usually fairly surprised, but accommodating. When I get invited to eat chez des Français, I make a point of telling them right away, giving them a chance to un-invite me, or else to plan accordingly. As for eating out, there’s usually a vegetarian restaurant or two in cities (my favorites: Poêle de Carottes in Strasbourg and La Zucca Magica in Nice).
If you want to eat at a traditional restaurant, especially one with an actual chef, call at least a day or two in advance and let them know you’re a vegetarian. In my experience, chefs enjoy the challenge and often provide outstanding meals.
Everyday restaurants always have salad, if nothing else, but there are usually a few other options like pizza or pasta. Ratatouille is a typical dish in the south that is always vegetarian. (If your French is iffy, be sure to check out this list of typical dishes and unusual foods, most of which you want to avoid) And if you make your own food, there’s no problem at all – the marchés are full of beautiful fruits and vegetables for eating at home or for picnics.
Where to from here?
We’re staying in Menton for another couple of years at least, while we continue saving up in order to eventually buy a place somewhere in France.
Thank you Laura for this interview with MyFrenchLife™.
Discover episode two of our interview with Laura, where she gives advice to language students!