Earlier this week I introduced Le Petit Prince (The Little Prince), a classic french children's book that has had a significant influence on me. Intriguing questions are asked throughout the short book. In Chapter 3, the narrator and the Little Prince discuss places of origin. "Where are you from?" is a universal questions that is becoming more and more complicated to answer as we become globally-oriented. It can be answered in a variety of different ways: Where are your parents from? Where were you born? Where did you grow up? Where do you live now? What country do you most identify with?
Many of today's children have parents who were born in different countries. It seems as if the only correct answer to this seemingly simple question is "Earth". It is no wonder that so many families are choosing to raise multilingual children. Nobody is a foreigner when you're communicating with them in the same language.
Le Petit Prince: Chapter Three (en Français)
Il me fallut longtemps pour comprendre d'où il venait. Le petit prince, qui me posait beaucoup de questions, ne semblait jamais entendre les miennes. Ce sont des mots prononcés par hasard qui, peu à peu, m'ont tout révélé. Ainsi, quand il aperçut pour la première fois mon avion (je ne dessinerai pas mon avion, c'est un dessin beaucoup trop compliqué pour moi) il me demanda:
"Qu'est ce que c'est que cette chose-là ?"
"Ce n'est pas une chose. Ça vole. C'est un avion. C'est mon avion."
Et j'étais fier de lui apprendre que je volais. Alors il s'écria:
"Comment! tu es tombé du ciel!"
"Oui, fis-je modestement."
"Ah! ça c'est drôle..."
Et le petit prince eut un très joli éclat de rire qui m'irrita beaucoup. Je désire que l'on prenne mes malheurs au sérieux. Puis il ajouta:
"Alors, toi aussi tu viens du ciel ! De quelle planète es-tu?"
J'entrevis aussitôt une lueur, dans le mystère de sa présence, et j'interrogeai brusquement:
"Tu viens donc d'une autre planète ?"
Mais il ne me répondit pas. Il hochait la tête doucement tout en regardant mon avion:
"C'est vrai que, là-dessus, tu ne peux pas venir de bien loin..."
Le Petit Prince: Chapter Three (in English)
It took me a long time to learn where he came from. The little prince, who asked me so many questions, never seemed to hear the ones I asked him. It was from words dropped by chance that, little by little, everything was revealed to me.
The first time he saw my airplane, for instance (I shall not draw my airplane; that would be much too complicated for me), he asked me:
"What is that object?"
"That is not an object. It flies. It is an airplane. It is my airplane."
And I was proud to have him learn that I could fly.
He cried out, then:
"What! You dropped down from the sky?"
"Yes," I answered, modestly.
"Oh! That is funny!"
And the little prince broke into a lovely peal of laughter, which irritated me very much. I like my misfortunes to be taken seriously.
Then he added:
"So you, too, come from the sky! Which is your planet?"
At that moment I caught a gleam of light in the impenetrable mystery of his presence; and I demanded, abruptly:
"Do you come from another planet?"
But he did not reply. He tossed his head gently, without taking his eyes from my plane:
"It is true that on that you can't have come from very far away..."