mercredi 19 novembre 2008
If there is one thing I cannot stand, it is listening to other Anglophones speaking french. Argh! I know I sound like that (more or less) and it is awful.
At least the english-speaker's accent in French is considered by the French to be rather charming/upper class, but sometimes I just want to blend in. I suppose I can get away with mono-syllabels - "oui" "non" - but anything more involved than that and Bam! they know I ain't french.

The worst is the Rs. I just cannot pronounce them correctly for the life of me. I have sometimes had to resort to spelling the word I want to convey the meaning of.

Once, I was speaking on the phone at work and was saying four. (think I was ordering four of something)
Un, doo, twa, catruh!
He finally understood. My officemates just laughed.

When I was taking my french courses, I tried to record myself reading texts in French, then listen to myself. That lasted all of once. I just could not bear it. Ah! Turn it off! Turn it off!

Other Things I Have Learned:
1) Thou, as a foreigner, shalt not use slang terms. Ya just sound silly.
Imagine someone with a heavy German accent saying
"Yo man, I'ma gonna go rollin in my bangin' ride to hit on some chicks."
Doesn't work right? Makes you just want to laugh right?
well, same for Americans speaking in French- mec, truc, bagnole, flic, etc.
Stick to the normal words.

2) Thou, as a foreigner, shalt not swear.
You can be upset, but Putain merde! just doesn't quite have the same effect.
You can maybe get away with a "mince" or "bon sang" but that's about it.

3) Thou, as a foreigner, shalt not get overly angry and yell in foreign language.
Getting red in face, searching for your words, combined with accent and slang terms?
Doesn't work. You can have disagreements, but that is it. Otherwise, nobody will take your little temper tantrum seriously.
"Aww, look at the funny American. They are so cute when they get angry and try to yell in French."
Putain merde!

11 commentaires:

Starman a dit…

There are a few lucky Anglos who speak French as well (if not better in some cases) than the French. Sadly, I am not one of them.

amerigirl a dit…

My french is horrible, but my French husband is pretty good now at the swearing in English. He still can't do some slang... but who can do all slang

But really cussing and slang is something we both have to stop or our son will be 3 and swearing like a sailor in 2 languages.

Balanced Melting Pot a dit…

I love these rules - these should be handed to anyone planning to live in France!

Our Juicy Life a dit…

i too get so frustrated when I say something and the french don't know what I'm saying and then they finally get it and say "ah" xxxx and it's exactly what I said, or atleast what I thought I said. My husband has a wonderful french accent, but he can do accents from any country, me I just sound like something else...most people ask if I'm english and then I tell them no american and they say ah, we weren't sure, you didn't sound british but we do see many americans and couldn't pick the country. argh!

poppy fields a dit…

I just swear in English. It gets my point across quite nicely in most settings.

Astrid a dit…

I'm lucky with the R as it's the same in my regional norwegian accent. But all luck ends there. I just hate when I meet whoever and after my first sentence they all say this: Je notes un petit accent... vous venez d'où?

I know they're just being kind but by saying PETIT accent when I know it's rather GRAND makes me feel even more foreign :)

However, as you said they all find it charming.

Anonyme a dit…

Even my boulangère recognizes my voice when I call to reserve bread. Gaaad. Even after 20 years, my accent has not gotten any less.

How do I subscribe to your blog? My blog says your's doesn't have a "feed".

Betty C. a dit…

For some reason, when I get mad at my students in class (fairly rare, thankfully,) I often go into French. Somehow they seem to take what I'm saying more seriously (maybe because they understand it all.) Not that I don't have an accent! I think it's just because suddenly I'm speaking the language of the school structure and not the language of English class.

Abra a dit…

Well, I an help with the "quatruh" thing, at least. Say quatr. The e is not voiced, you end the word with the r sound.

I'm American, speak good French, and break all of the rules you've listed. People understand me and don't laugh. I think that if you're going to swear, you just need to do it with authority. But you can also swear charmingly by saying "zut et flûte!"

Madame K a dit…

LOL. I can't say I agree with your rules, but it was a funny read. After all, using slang and common expressions is an indicator of fluency. My husband could TOTALLY get away with saying "Yo man, Imma go rollin in my bangin' ride to hit on some chicks."...and it would be adooorable!

But seriously I have never in my life heard anyone actually say "mince" or "bon sang".
Never, ever never in 5 years.

Maybe I'll give it a try, start a new trend here in Eastern France.

Uncle David a dit…

I completely understand your frustration.

Last Thanksgiving my wife and I spent the day in Marseille at the Prefecture annex. I became so frustrated with the clerk at the window that I turned around and asked loudly (in French) if anyone there spoke English. (That actually made her a little more cooperative, it turned out.)

Happy Thanksgiving!

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