Thursday, 8 July 2010

Will I ever be able to speak French?

I’ve always considered myself as fluent in French - obviously some of the terms I have come across during my work as a property finder reveal gaps in my education (why was I never taught the words for ‘mains-drainage’ ‘down pipe’ and ‘public right of way’ at school) but a couple of hours with the dictionary always helps. What I now find confusing is that the French either use different words or even words that I have never heard of - they respond to my cheery greeting of ‘Bonjour’ or ‘Bonsoir’ with ‘Bon-journee’, ‘Bon fin-de l’apres midi’, ‘Bon appetit’ etc. This morning I answered a second telephone call from an agent who greeted me with ‘Rebonjour’ - that is not even in the dictionary! And nor is ‘Sandwicherie’ but that is another Blog entirely! The local paper has just run an article about visitors who take their holidays in July rather than August and refer to them as ‘Juillettistes’ and ‘Aoutiens’.

I have had to take up drinking black coffee as whenever I ordered Café-au-lait I was informed that I wanted Café-Crème (or Vice-Versa depending upon which part of France you are in). Actually, during these hot sunny days I seem to have even more trouble ordering coffee as I somehow always seem to end up with a beer or glass of rose in front of me - it must be my accent!

My husband is ‘fairly fluent’ but is always keen to improve his vocabulary. The other day I was explaining how ‘bouchon’ literally translates as ‘cork’ but also describes a traffic jam. He was still mulling this over as we walked over to the newsagent. There was a man with a dog on his way out of the doorway and two large ladies standing back to let him pass, and then out of nowhere a woman with a pushchair containing the ugliest baby I have ever seen tried to barge through the middle of everybody. My husband recognised that this was the perfect opportunity to use his new word - but unfortunately announced ‘C’est un cochon’.......

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