Question about speaking as a non native

Nov 8th, 2002, 05:51 AM
  #1  
Angela
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Question about speaking as a non native

Hello I am leaving for France tomorrow. I have been taking a French course at a local community college to get ready for my trip. I have never been to Europe before. I am excited but am nervous as to how I will be received. Can you all tell me about maybe how I can handle a situation if I encounter rudeness ( I have had several people tell me that no matter if I try there will be those who will try and pretend they do not understand me). I just want to be respectful and at least try while I am there. Please this is not a troll.
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 06:00 AM
  #2  
s.fowler
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
First -- have a GREAT time! [Take me with you????]

Second -- good for you for learning some French.

Third -- ALWAYS be gracious. Always start in French. Start with Bon jour madame/monsieur/mademoiselle. Try to ask your question in French -- if they speak English they will switch -- if not they will usually be patient IF you have been very polite.

It's a pain for many of us type-As to slow down like that -- but one of the reasons I love Paris is that I get practice in civility that is hard to maintain on the roads and in the marts of northern Illinois.
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 06:01 AM
  #3  
Rex
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
First of all, it is not very likely that you will encounter rudeness; rudeness begets rudeness.

Secondly, handle it the same way you would handle it if someone were rude to you (and uncalled for) - - if it is a stockboy at the grocery, then just walk away, - - who needs it? And in the unlikely event it is actual professional who seems to uncommunicative, then just kill them with kindness - -

<<S'il vous plait, monsieur. Je suis désolée. Vous ne me comprenez pas, monsieur? Pourriez-vous m'aider, je vous en prie?>>

Remember, bonjour monsieur; bonjour madame, merci, s'il vous plait, je vous en prie - - simple old fashioned politeness will be your chief "immunity" against the legendary (but rare) rudeness of a few Parisians (who endure a lot of rudeness and dish very little back).

Have a great trip.

Best wishes,

Rex
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 06:02 AM
  #4  
Ira
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Hi Angela

Don't worry. My last trip (April 2000) I found Parisians to be extremely friendly.

If you encounter rudeness, just walk away. There will be someone somewhere else who will be accomodating.
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 06:04 AM
  #5  
jules
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Start the exchange or conversation with:
"Bonjour, est-ce que vous parlez l'anglais ?"
If the answer is "oui", continue in English, at least for a while.
If the answer is "non", continue:
"D'accord, je ferai de mon mieux pour m'expliquer en français"
With a friendly start like that, you may end up speaking more French than by just starting off in French. Don't be nervous. Bon voyage!
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 06:05 AM
  #6  
StCirq
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Angela:

Relax and just put forth a good effort and the French will be gracious. Also don't assume if someone doesn't understand you that he is pretending. You may very well find yourself in a situation where people genuinely do not understand you - don't assume it's their fault or they are being rude. You will find creative ways to communicate in such situations. Bonne vacance!
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 06:08 AM
  #7  
Geoff Hamer
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Isn't it rather rude to assume that if someone doesn't understand you, they are just pretending. Some British people have the mistaken idea that French people all speak English and just pretend not to be able to understand English (or French with an English accent). I try to speak French whenever I'm in France and, if someone doesn't understand me, I assume that it's my fault. It does take a while to get round the subtleties of french pronounciation. In my experience, English-speaking people are much ruder to French people than they are to us. You are right to try to learn French and I'm sure you'll find the effort was worthwhile.
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 06:08 AM
  #8  
Angela
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Thanks! I guess I have the jitters right nowI have been acting like a nervous nellie all week! I really am excited about this. I have been saving up for two years for this vacation ( I work at a grocery store in a small town so it took me a while). I will definitely post my trip when I get back and let you know how I did. Thanks very much.
Angela
Mineral Wells, Texas
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 06:09 AM
  #9  
Patrick
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
I agree with what everyone above has said, but they have left out the most important thing. Whenever you approach someone and attempt to speak in their native language, do it with a big smile. It makes all the difference in the world. In my case the smile says, "I know this isn't really the way you pronounce it, but I'm trying, so please don't laugh at me." Maybe your smile will say "I'm so happy to be here". But in any case, the smile is the most important part.
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 06:10 AM
  #10  
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
My husband and I went (our first time too) in late October and we didn't really experience any rudeness but definitely impatience on the part of shopkeepers. Basically, as soon as you walk into a store, always greet them as mentioned about -ALWAYS. But what I found strange was that they immediately ask you "what is your choice/desire". They aren't too keen on browsers. Fortunately, in my few French classes, I found out that "je regard, merci" was a way to get your point across. It seemed that they want you in and out in a hurry.
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 06:13 AM
  #11  
Ira
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Hi Angela,
Have a great trip.
Perhaps a little story will help you get over your jitters.
I was buying supplies for a picnic at a small shop near the hotel, and having some difficulty trying with my rusty high-school French. The clerk was very accomodating.
After a few minutes he asked, in English, "Would you be more comfortable if we spoke English, or would you like to continue in French?".
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 06:21 AM
  #12  
sandi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Ira, Exactly what we found. I know a few key words and phrases and practiced the "restaraunt script" or "hotel script" etc.. but usually as soon as your rusty attempt is made they will save you (and the dignity of their beautiful language) by speaking English.
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 06:31 AM
  #13  
Angela
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Wow so many people replied...thanks again! I tell you I am just fit to be tied right now! I wish I could leave today...
Angela
Mineral Wells, TX
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 07:07 AM
  #14  
Frank
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
If you say "Pourriez-vous m'aider, je vous en prie?" is almost the equivalent of begging like a servant to master. There is no need to get that indulgent with a stranger. Just end it with "s'il vous plaît." Also, the sentence "Vous ne me comprenez pas Monsieur?" has a borderline connotation of making the other party seem like a nitwit for not understanding you. Much better to use the proper interrogative form to eliminate the undertone: "Ne me comprenez-vous pas, Monsieur?" "Oh, Pardon" or "Excusez-moi." The tendency to ask a question without using the interrogative form which is becoming more common in spoken language does show a certain lack of breeding.
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 07:27 AM
  #15  
Betsy
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Oh Angela, have a wonderful trip. Paris is magical. Don't worry too much about your limited knowledge of French. I've found the French to be very forgiving! With your positive attitude, a smile, and even some pantomiming you'll be just fine in most situations.

Please do a trip report when you return.
 
Nov 8th, 2002, 09:13 AM
  #16  
Heidi
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Angela, Good for you! I've never been to Paris, but I'm planning a trip to Germany. I speak the language pretty well but I'm also nervous about talking to natives, being understood, and not sounding like a dolt! Go for it and have an excellent time!
 
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Quinty
Europe
62
Dec 20th, 2002 03:07 PM
debra
Europe
26
Nov 29th, 2002 06:31 PM
don
Europe
8
Mar 11th, 2002 06:22 PM
Bob Brown
Europe
18
Feb 9th, 1999 06:18 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:12 PM.