Monday, April 15, 2013

French Class, Part 4

"The American arrives in Paris with
a few French phrases he has culled
from a conversational guide or picked up
from a friend who owns a beret."
~ Fred Allen

The first time I came to France, I was lost because I could not figure out much of the language As many of you know, I speak Spanish fluently, but my knowledge of the French language didn't extend beyond a few phrases I picked up from friends who studied French in high school or college. Knowing Spanish was of little help as the vocabularies are really too different.

Fast forward to this year. I took Italian classes two years ago in an attempt to learn the language of my grandparents. Going in, I thought — and everyone told me — I'd have it pretty easy since I speak Spanish and blah, blah blah. Surprise!! While verb conjugations are very similar and some of the vocabulary and most pronunciations are close, I found Italian to be closer to French than to Spanish.

I'm doing much better reading things in French this year since the vocabulary now makes sense/ I do have a bit of a problem with verb conjugations and such, but I can at least read signs (and menus) more easily. I've even increased my French vocabulary to include a number of important words: ouvert (open), ferme (closed), exit (sortie), dimanche (Sunday), lundi (Monday), ou (or), framboises (raspberries), and so on. Actually, I now know all the days of the week and months of the year, directions, and a lot of different foods. Aren't you impressed? :-)

                                                            Metro Exit

I do have a bit of a problem understanding spoken French, though. Some of these people talk like they have a mouth full of pebbles. Of course, I also have a huge problem speaking French and being understood.

If you've been reading along with us, you may remember that I mentioned trying to tell someone that I love dogs but ended up saying, "I love you the dog." I looked up how to say, "I love dogs," "J'aime les chiens" seems pretty easy, no? Apparently not for me.

We went into a boulangerie to get a baguette today, and some guy was in there with his Pomeranian. I started to talk to the dog, and he was a little snippy and not very friendly (Riley would say that I should expect that from a Pomeranian.). The owner was very nice, but he didn't speak or understand English.... or my version of French.

"J'aime les chiens," I thought I said. (I pronounced it Shgem lay sheen.) The guy took two steps back. I said it again. "J'aime les chiens."

"Maybe you said you love Chinese," Mike said. I ignored him since everyone knows 'Chinese' in French is chinois.

"J'aime les chiens," I repeated. "I love dogs." I patted my heart and pointed to the dog. He looked at me like I was crazy, and the dog turned her head toward her owner.

The gal with whom he'd been talking addressed him. "Gobbledy-gook. Gobbledy- les chiens." I think she told him I wasn't crazy and that I was trying to say I love dogs.

He smiled at me. "Gobbledy-gook. Gobbledy-gook. Gobbledy-gook."

"He saiz zee doog, she eez shy," the woman told me.

"Si. I mean, oui," I replied. "Merci. Au revoir, Pooky!" They all breathed a sigh of relief as we walked out of the store.

Actually, whenever I say, "Merci,"  "Bon soir" (Good evening!) and "Au revoir," I always get good responses (probably because they don't have to listen to me butcher their language any longer).

                                                       Palais du Papes

On another note, we toured the Palais du Papes today (The Pope's Palace), and we think we'll go to Arles tomorrow and Marseille on Thursday. Maybe I can pick up a few more phrases by then. I'll let you know.

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