Saturday, January 06, 2007

All Sept

After about two years back in France, and almost seven after I came here for the first time, I have begun to cross my 7's, in the French fashion, something that I have long resisted, mainly because my 7's never look like they could be mistaken for 1's, despite the protests of many French people. I have always been irritated by French bank clerks crossing my 7's on lodgement dockets, as if they were making them presentable for French processing. When one looks at the absurd way many French people write 1's - often leaving hanging a stroke from the top of the figure so long that the 1 looks like a ski-jump - the possibility of getting the two figures getting confounded is even greater still. In Philip Roth's The Human Stain, Coleman Silk's persecutor, and would-be suitor, the French academic Delphine Roux, gives herself away by the crossed 7's à la francaise in her anonymous letter. The main reason I have started doing it is because many of my students, having difficulty comprehending anything that is not Gallic, cannot conceive of a 7 being sept without that bar running through it. But I may also be going native, finally.