Do not know French, please advice

Feb 10th, 2002, 07:16 AM
  #1  
Veronica
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Do not know French, please advice

I can neither read nor speak French, will there be any difficulities in visiting Paris ? Any tips ?
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 07:22 AM
  #2  
Al Godon
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Depends on how well you speak English.
Your message title is not a good indication!
Sorry to seem rude, but the word you want is advise, which is the verb.
Advice is the noun. Now with that I have delivered my ugly for the day.
But is is true, even so. Ugliness happens.
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 07:29 AM
  #3  
XXX
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I agree with what you are saying Al, but maybe she meant - "Do not know French, please - advice!" As in, advice please! Who really cares anyway. Why am I even responding to this...
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 07:37 AM
  #4  
kit
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Veronica,

I think you'll be fine if what you want to do is see the major attractions; they will be full of others who aren't natives and you'll all figure it out just fine. You can generally always get English language guides and pamphlets and will be able to enjoy everything as intended.

As always, carry the address and phone number of your hotel with you to give to a cab driver if need be. And you'll be fine in the subway system -- very simple to figure out.

Go and have fun! Learn the simple phrases in advance (or don't); you'll still be fine.
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 07:40 AM
  #5  
sue
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Veronica, Veronica,

If you've caught a satirical tone in the past messages, well...

Pretend you are on the streets of New York. A person comes up to you and speaks only French. When you don't understand, he speaks French more slowly and more loudly.

Is there any way you can help him? Is there any way you even want to help him?

OK, now pretend that same person comes up to you and says in English in a heavy French accent, "Excuse me,could you please help me, madame? I speak very little English" and points to the Empire State Building on a map. With some pointing, you give him some basic directions. He's appreciative, and says in English, "Thank you, Madame. Goodbye."

With this in mind, I think you now know that you have quite a bit of French homework. There are tons of references on this site about how much French you need, how to get a short list of lessons, etc. And you will see quite a few comments that state "Paris is not Disney World--Parisians have no obligation to speak your language."

 
Feb 10th, 2002, 07:44 AM
  #6  
cmt
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My tip: Try to learn a little French. Ideally, you should take a class. Most local adult evening schools probably offer French, and these classes can be a lot of fun. If it' imposible to take a class, at least try to learn from a book, supplemented by tapes and renting French movies.
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 07:52 AM
  #7  
Sue
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wwww.amazon.com

Do a search for Learn French in Your Car. I have a horrid commute and pass the time learning languages. As posted previously, you only need a few phrases to be polite.
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 08:09 AM
  #8  
John
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Hi Veronica,

It is possible to explore and enjoy most any European city with little knowledge of the local language - Paris included.

In most guide books there are phrases and words that are handy to know. Start with please/thank you, good morning/afternoon/evening, left/right, North/South/East/West, questions like Who/What/Where, numbers, menu/check etc. Knowing perhaps two hundred words combined with being polite will be all that you will need.

Have a great visit.
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 08:18 AM
  #9  
Linda
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I went to Paris and southern France last year with a love of languages and junior high school French. I listened to tapes in the car to get the lilt of the language, learned the basic phrases (polite terms and "where is" "how much" etc.) and used them and carried my French phrase book with me at all times. The people were marvelous and by and large spoke much more English than I spoke French in Paris, in southern France there was less English but we were always able to make ourselves understood.

I believe that you truly MUST learn the basics in order to be polite. Read the travel books (Rick Steve's, Frommers, etc.) about how to ge a good tourist.

We had language difficulty only once in Paris. I had to call to confirm a flight and the hotel had the airline numbers automatically connected. Unfortunately when I dialed for our airline there was a recorded message (rapidly spoken) and I understood that the number had changed, here's the new one. I dialed about three times to try to get the new numbers written down but couldn't, they didn't seem to make sense even though I knew they were numbers (as it turns out, the problem was that we say individual numbers in reading a phone number--eight eight eight seven six five four--they say something like eighty-eight eighty-seven, and my brain couldn't process this!). Anyhow, the problem was worsened by the fact that I finally called the front desk to tell them I couldn't get through, the number had changed and would they please try to call and they INSISTED they had the correct number and that was that. I tried again several times and literally was in tears because I was so frustrated! Finally, the front desk called me back and apologized, they had tried to call the airline and got the message.

One basic thing is that French pronunciation is consonant vowel consonant vowel etc. Don't try to put two consonant sounds together, don't end a word with a consonant (for the most part).

Finally, don't be ignorant about money either. We had only one waiter attempt to scam us while there, at the cafe outside the Louvre museum (while the workers inside were deciding to go on strike). We paid dearly for the option of sitting down and I paid with a 200 franc note for a check that was just under 100 francs. The waiter gave me coins only in change that added back to 100 francs. It took me a second to realize and when I got up, he was gone. I started to ask another waiter to get him but the offending server walked by and I said, "Pardon monsieur, I gave you 200 francs..." and before I finished my sentence he whipped out a 100 franc note!
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 08:23 AM
  #10  
david
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I have toured all over Europe and do not speak any foreign language. I do learn the basics such as please, thank you, hello, and goodbye. If one is polite in any language and accepts that there may be some difficulties at times, there is no problem whatsoever in travelling. Accepting the differences and enjoying the variet of lives is what makes travelling such a vibrant experience.
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 08:26 AM
  #11  
Rex
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Hopefully, the point of the replies here is to help you, not to lecture you. I, too, think you would benefit from trying to learn as much as French as you can. If you make a concerted effort, 25 words or phrases a week is not an unreasonable goal - - say, over a 3-6 week span (if you have that much time before you depart).

Paris (or France or any other destination for that matter) is not simply a "zoo" where you go to just "look" but not interact or learn about the people who live there. And one of the most intrinsically "French" things about France and its people and culture is the language.

Best wishes,

Rex
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 08:29 AM
  #12  
Paris lover
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You've been given excellent advice.

Number one rule is: NEVER assume a person speaks English. No matter what country you visit, you should, at an absolute minimum be able to say:

1) hello

2) good-bye

3) please

4) thank you

5) excuse me

6) By chance, do you speak English?

Merely saying "hello" instead of spewing out English will lay the groundwork for good communication.

Read a guidebook for the very basics, as well, such as "exit" (sortie) and just a few words so that you won't be totally lost. You don't need to speak complete French at all, but being completely ignorant of the language is a definite faux pas.

I don't speak Chinese at all, but when I visited the mainland, I was able to utter (in a grotesque, but sincere American accent)a few minimal phrases. Although it took very little effort, it impressed (and shocked) the Chinese and I was treated like royalty for making the attempt the communicate in their language.
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 09:52 AM
  #13  
Linda
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...and one more thing. When entering a shop/hotel/restaurant you'll always be greeted with, "Bonjour Madam" (unless of course you're young enough to be a Mademoiselle). The proper response is, "Bonjour Madam/Monsieur/ Mademoiselle" never just "Bonjour." That's rude! But they'll likely forgive you anyhow--at least you tried!
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 09:58 AM
  #14  
frenchteacher
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Madame is even better!
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 10:09 AM
  #15  
amy
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One more thing, Veronica...

When we don't understand language, we tend to read body language. We also tend to forget that every country/culture has its own body language. You may believe a French person is being rude to you because they're not smiling as you ask a question. Nope--they just don't smile all the time like we do. Take your time, be polite, and plug away with the 10-25 basic phrases and you'll be OK.
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 10:30 AM
  #16  
Linda
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Thank you French Teacher!
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 12:33 PM
  #17  
pam
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Just bought the Pimsleur "Quick and Simple" French. There are 4 cd's and I listen to them on my way to and from work.
They are really simple...really!
They offer a very simple vocabulary with phrases one is bound to use.
They are also very reasonably priced.
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 12:38 PM
  #18  
karen
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Veronica, I agree with many other posters...just learn a few words and it will go a long way. Tapes, classes, car tapes, etc are a great and convenient way to learn a few phases. The Parisians are wonderful people. You'll have a great trip!
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 01:53 PM
  #19  
amy
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Pam, I love those tapes. It was at the suggestion of someone at this site (perhaps you) that I purchased them. I think many of us have had French in high school and/or college so that we are in many ways "beyond" beginning levels but have forgotten 98% of the rest of the stuff. We end up being frustrated by whatever review system we choose. Did not find this to be so with the Pimsleur. Former speakers can start at Pimsleur French I and be challenged by their emphasis on accent/structure/pacing. And if you want to head straight for II and III, they're fabulous, too. It's great stuff--more psychological than structural approach. Many, many thanks to whoever first posted about Pimsleur.
 
Feb 10th, 2002, 09:55 PM
  #20  
ttttt
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ttt
 

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