Me Talk Pretty One Day

by David Sedaris

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How does the author of Me Talk Pretty One Day connect with his audience using his personal drawing experience?

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In Me Talk Pretty One Day, the author connects with his audience to share his experience by describing the familiar situation of a classroom, identifying himself as a student, and using humor.

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In Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris establishes connections with his audience by making his unique experience seem very familiar to them. He emphasizes the humorous aspects of a situation that most people can identify with: being a student with a difficult teacher. This strategy encourages the reader to identify with him, where they might feel distant if he had stressed the more unusual dimension of moving to France. Sedaris could have made the essay more personal with anecdotes about his life with his partner, which would have given additional emotional nuances which would be appealing to many readers.

Most people who are reading personal essays are likely to have been students at some point in their lives. Many people have also had the experience of learning a foreign language. Even for those who have not, numerous dimensions of classroom experiences are bound to seem familiar. Sedaris encourages the reader to identify with him as a student by providing information and humorous observations about the other students. He makes fun of himself by showing his difficulties in learning French, including errors made in his early efforts. Sedaris also portrays the teacher as extremely demanding, and he questions the effectiveness of her methods. This aspect of the essay also connects with an experience that most readers have probably had.

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In Me Talk Pretty One Day, how does an author connect with his audience by sharing his experience? In what ways would he incorporate his personal experience to draw his reader in?

In Me Talk Pretty One Day, David Sedaris talks about the experience of learning French. He did this at the age of forty-one, in Paris. Some of his audience will have had the experience of learning a language as an adult, but they will be a minority. Sedaris, therefore focuses on the elements of his experience which are universal or very nearly so. He begins by talking about his fellow students, who "exhibited an ease and confidence that I found intimidating." This is a very common experience, particularly for a beginner in a language class. Sedaris also uses the technique of replacing the words he does not understand with meaningless jumbles of letters:

If you have not meimslsxp or lgpdmurct by this time, then you should not be in this room. Has everyone apzkiubjxow? Everyone?

Again, most readers will be able to identify with the feeling of listening to someone (particularly a teacher) making statements and asking questions they do not understand. A little later, when a student says that she dislikes mosquitoes, the teacher replies:

Oh, really ... How very interesting. I thought that everyone loved the mosquito, but here, in front of all the world, you claim to detest him. How is it that we’ve been blessed with someone as unique and original as you? Tell us, please.

The woman in question was asked to list a few of the things she liked and disliked. There was no stipulation to be unique and original. This comment, therefore, seems rather unfair. Again, the situation is one most people will understand instantly. We have all had teachers who singled out particular students as victims for their feeble attempts at wit and sarcasm.

Sedaris is using the universal elements in his rather unusual experience of attending language classes in Paris to draw the reader in. The reader may never have learned French or been to Paris, but we have all sat in classrooms and had experiences very similar to those described by the author. This provides the connection between writer and reader.

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