A lot of people will tell you that one of the advantages of learning French for an English speaker is that we have a lot of similar words. It’s true that a lot of English words have French origin like fiancé and words we can’t be bothered finding a translation for (e.g. crepe, baguette, beret)
The problem is we often completely fuck up or change the original pronunciation.
So when I was in the Alsace region and was explaining in to my friend Pierre all the French words in English, I mentioned lingerie. If I try to explain how I said it phonetically I suppose it was something like ‘lawn: jerr: ray’ and he had no idea what I was talking about. Continue reading
I recently wrote about the things I don’t miss about France, but it also got me thinking that there are things that I definitely do miss about the place! Such as…
I don’t understand why French people have such a bad reputation for being rude. I’ve always found them just like everyone else in the world, some are friendly and others… well you’ll probably never get along with! I think the French, especially those who don’t live in big cities, are very welcoming to people who make a tiny effort to speak French.
They don’t appear annoyed if you can’t understand them or are struggling with French and will gladly bail you out when they see you’re struggling. Over my time in France I met some very important people who will be friends for life. From my host mum, my French colleagues and French friends who always helped me with my French and got me through the hard times. It’s a shame we’re now very far away from each other!
I am a self-confessed French nerd. ‘Francophile’ as my French nerd friends and I like to call each other (a mix of the French word for ‘French native speaker’ and ‘pedophile’ :)) but there are some things I can’t say I miss about living there. There are plenty of things I do miss – mainly the amazing friendships I made but I if I went back to live there I know I would dread…
- French Administration
They have a reputation for it, and they deserve it. The French bureaucracy is a nightmare, I did manage to find some coping strategies to deal with the shitload of paper that came my way. Then there were the constant mistakes by the people working for social security and health benefits. Sending a letter telling you they needed something from you, then it was just ‘a mistake’, forgetting to mention an important piece of paper to begin with etc etc
When I got back to Australia I had to order a new license, I went onto VicRoad’s website and quickly found the correct link. I filled in a quick online form, paid the $20 fee online and voila! Done. My license should arrive within 10 working days (which it did). I remember smiling at that moment thinking ‘can’t say I miss French administration!’
My friend Jennie at ielanguages shared a fascinating article about the lack of “vous” on the internet and the increased appearance of “tu”, even when two people who don’t know each other are communicating.
My own experience with being ‘tued’ and ‘voued’ on social media came from one of my students who added me on Facebook. She sent me a few emails from time to time and she always addressed me with ‘vous’, although I knew I would always address her with ‘tu’ since I was her teacher and she was my student.
However the very day that I stopped being her teacher, she sent me an email and addressed me with ‘tu’. Now as an English speaker, I really didn’t give a shit whether she used tu or vous with me, but it was interesting to see once this idea of a social barrier in her head came down she felt free to talk to me like the young adult I am. Even though we had been more friends than student and teacher for a while, it wasn’t until I had that title of ‘teacher’ taken off that she felt she had the right to use ‘tu’.
It’s no secret that I love French food. I know because I gained 2 kilos living there. Oh how I loved those chocolate eclairs, the melt-in-your-mouth croissants, baguettes which are crispy on the outside yet soft and fluffy on the inside…
There’s no doubt, the French can cook, but one thing they cannot do for the love of Christ, is make a good ol’ cup of English tea.
I’m talking about strong black tea with about a 1/4 cup of milk in it, and maybe some honey or sugar. I may not be English – but I love English tea. Yet it’s just not done in France. The caffeine staple in France is coffee. Specifically a shot of black coffee with a teaspoon of sugar – with no milk.