Friday, 24 August 2012

Word Up

Despite the 84% in my French test, my spoken French tends to be me looking confused and repeating back to the person in front of me what they've just said.  If I can understand it.  So this week:

At the boulangerie picking up a lunch order for a meeting the only thing I understood was when they asked me if I needed a receipt.  The rest might as well have been Icelandic.  It probably was, on reflection.

On the phone yesterday I managed to cobble together "Je ne comprends pas tout ce que vous avez dit...est-ce qu'il y a quelqu'un qui parle anglais...?"

And today in the pharmacy I mainly just repeated words back to the pharmacist looking confused.  It wasn't that I didn't understand the words, but that I didn't understand what the fuck he was asking.  Why would I be in your computer?  Tant pis, and all that.  At the end of the day, it's still the end of the day.

I long for a time when conversation is not something that gives my eyebrows a double workout.   I reckon it's going to take years.  Tomorrow I have to take something back to a shop and ask to exchange it.  This is going to be most amusing.


  1. This reminds me of when I lived in Holland and tried desperately to practice my Dutch.
    The shame and indignation of being told by shopkeepers to "just speak English, it is easier".

  2. I'm surprised that doesn't happen more here. But I have quite a convincing accent so maybe I fool them into thinking I can actually say something.

  3. I think you're doing brilliantly. I'm still at the stage of telling the woman in the boulangerie who all the bread I'm buying is for...just to practice a bit. Once, when I was on my own here for a month , I embarked on a practice my French conversation with a woman in a bar, telling her I liked her dress. I also try to practice exchanging complete banalities with people in the post office queue....I find they can become life time friends, as we queue for so long. Seriously, you got the job, you passed the tests and you are living it every day. I bet you are starting to think and dream in French.... a bit.

  4. "Et ce petit pain est pour moi, et CE petit pain est aussi pour moi, et ce..." :o)

    No, I'm not dreaming in French yet, but I do hear a sort of subdued French babble in my head, even when I'm on my own. No idea what it's saying.

  5. Even after years of speaking and listening to Spanish - and mostly making myself understood now - I can still make monumental cock-ups. I told my mother-in-law I'd 'cagado' (fucked up or crapped myself) instead of 'caido' - fallen. Amounts to the same in the end.

    Take heart, you're improving all the time - think how long it takes children to learn to speak. At least you know you've mastered that art already - the foreign version will out soon enough - then look out Bruxelles!

  6. Oh I do love a monumental cock-up. Thanks, it feels so SLOW and I don't have a lot of patience with myself.