Monday, November 7, 2011

Speaking French

Trying to converse in another language is fraught with missteps. When in France I try to speak French (despite the fact that-in French-I have managed to describe my husband as horny and asked if the bread had condoms.) I know that the only way I can become remotely fluent is to practice, so still I try.

I find it best to converse with cabbies-they seem more generous and patient than most. I like to think that this is because they are generally foreign born and as such have, most likely, struggled with learning French as well...on the other hand, it may have something to do with the fact that they are a captive audience.

My conversation about the workers strikes went something like this:

Cab Driver: “Many workers are protesting against the government. They do not want to work more than 35 hours per week.”

Me: “In United States the job is 40 hour in the week, and the vacation is 2 week for the years.”

Driver: "The police have blocked the streets and they are using teargas to disperse the crowd."

Me: "It makes interest a tiny exciting. I am OK."

Driver: (Looking at me quizzically) "Yes."

Me: “I am the street nearby?”

Driver: (looking at me quizzically again) “Perhaps.”

Driver: "Where do you live?"

Me: “The United States Boston.”

Driver: “You are on vacation?”

Me: “Yes, the vacation and the job.”

Driver: "What is your job?"

Me: “I am the store of antiques, excuse me, I have the store of antiques, small store of antiques.”

Driver: "Ah, yes…"

After this brief exchange I am exhausted…

One phrase I have I have become very familiar with is:

merde de chien!

I love dogs, but this is ridiculous...


  1. What more would you need than merde de chien? Although 'Where's the toilet?' might come in handy.

  2. oh this was funny! "merci" you for helping me to start my day with a smile on my face! ;)

  3. Can you imagine me there! No speak any French with my hillbilly accent!! That would be a hoot!

  4. Too funny.....and knowing full well that most French are not very patient with those who do not speak their language fluently always just added to the "mis-speaks" on my part it seemed. C'est la guerre! Have a great week (sans merde de chien....) Smiles & Hugs ~ Robin

  5. Oh, Jackie, this almost had me in tears I was laughing so hard. I even made my husband read it. He said we definitely better go through the Rosetta Stone lessons before we travel to France!

  6. When I was a college student in France, no one corrected me as I repeatedly raved about French food without "preservatifs" (condoms) or that my husband (to be) had smashed pennies for me to make a bracelet (I'll let you guess what pennies was...).
    Later as a French instructor, I let my students know that you cannot simply "frenchify" all of our English words...Yipes!
    Hope you're having FUN!!!