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Saturday, September 17, 2011

Les Anglophones

So you know how I get all pissy and uppity when the French talk to me in English? This goes both ways for the English speakers who speak to me in French. I know what you're thinking, you're in France, speak French, dammit! But, it's a little more complex.

The one thing I really dislike about speaking French, is not being able vary my vocabulary. In English I can be much more specific and dramatic when I describe things. One of my greatest pleasures, is recounting stories with hyperbole. I can't really do this with Gui Gui, because the exaggeration doesn't always cross the language barrier.

The other reason I refuse to speak French, is that it invariably turns into a pissing contest.
Person A"So, do you speak French?"
Person B "We jay parlay parfetment frahnsay." Or worse-"Yeah I took two years in high school, so I'm pretty much fluent."

False.

Or maybe they do actually speak it, but it can occasionally turn into this conversation.
Person A-"Ouais, hier j'ai fait une cuite."
Person B (internally)-What the hell is a cuite? If I admit I don't know, they'll think I don't speak French. (outloud) "Uhh, j'aime bien les cuites..."
Person A-(internally) This jackass doesn't speak French! Cool! Moi aussi!

Anyway, it gets worse because while I still make many mistakes in French/sound like a FOB, I have a good grasp on what's right, and what's wrong, which brings us to the next problem, is correcting other non native French speaker's French. I don't ever really do it, unless it's a big mistake. The other day, I was with this awkward little German boy, who speaks little to no French. We were speaking in English, but he was testing out his French, and said "Je ne parle fran├žais pas." This is a pretty big no-no, the pas always follows the verb, to make it negative, so I gently told him the grammar rule. His reaction? "No, you're wrong, that's definitely how you say it."
...Right, anyway, I got my other friend to explain to him that indeed, the pas always follows the verb. My point is, while it's good to practice the fluidity with which you speak, you wont ever polish up your French if you keep making the same mistakes with Anglophones. You might as well cut your losses and enjoy speaking your native language with fellow foreigners.

I'm not alone on this mentality and last night I went out for a drink with some new Au Pairs and a couple of ones that were here last year. The veterans were sitting down when the newbies walked up to us and said something in (incorrect) French. The three of us looked at eachother and said "Why the hell did she just speak to us in French?"

This is an anglo table, speak English!

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