Obies Using Languages: Raffi Boden ‘19

Raffi Boden is double degree French and Cello major.

What got you interested in majoring in French, and why this language specifically?

I’ve always been really interested in languages and learning about the relationships between different languages and how language influences culture. I started learning French in elementary school because my parents enrolled me in classes and have always enjoyed speaking it. My aunt lives in France so this also gave me incentive to learn. In terms of why this language specifically, there is a lot of really cool literature language in French and it’s a widely spoken, so I decided it would be a good fit.

Have you ever spent time in a French speaking place? How did the experience shape you?

I spent two weeks in Paris with my aunt two years ago. At the time I didn’t speak french well so I had a hard time communicating, but think I’ve gotten much better since then. I also went on a road trip to Montreal and I was the translator for my cousin. I was really influenced by the music scene in Montreal and got the chance to practice my French a lot.

What is your favorite word or phrase in French that is untranslatable to English? What does it mean?

My favorite phrase in French on fait-ce qu’on peut, mais on peut si peut which means we do what we can but we can only do so much. For example, you can say this if your professor asks you why you didn’t do your homework and you don’t have any other explanation. It does a really good job of representing the common French mindset which is very existentialist and laissez faire.

When you speak in French, are you able to think in French or do you have to translate the words from English in your head before speaking?

I would say half in half at this point, but the more I speak French the more I’ll be able to not translate from English in my head. I’ve dreamt in French before, which I think is a sign that I am becoming more fluent and really internalizing the language.


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