jeudi 5 février 2009

It's difficult to talk - I've got my hands full

I've mentioned this before, but it drives me crazy. And it's happened to me twice during the last couple of days.

"What is it that tests the patience of the ever-patient and saintly TBNIL?", I hear you cry.

It's simple. It's this:

French people who insist on speaking to me in English despite the fact that a) they can't string a sentence together and b) I can speak perfectly good French thank you very much for not asking.

This morning, I bumped into my neighbour as we both left for the Métro station at the same time (i.e. late). She's a lovely lady, a certain age, college lecturer, teaches accounting to 18 year olds.

"I study English in Oxford" she announced.

"That's good. At the university or at a language school?"

"Huh?" she looked at me quizzingly. I asked her the question in French.

"Ah! I do language school. It was Oxford"

And so the conversation went. I spoke in English, then in French and she answered me in something vaguely resembling English.

Earlier in the week, on Tuesday night in fact, I was getting ready to leave the bar (I was in the toilette having a strategic wee).

As I stood there pee-ing, a guy came over 'to chat', as one does in Paris, apparently.

"Where from you?" he said, in a charming French accent.

"Angleterre. Je suis Anglais", I replied. With my charming English accent.

"What you do Paris, here? Me, from Montréal".

I finished my business and moved to the basin to wash my hands.

As he was obviously French and not Québecois, I asked him where he was from originally. He said Britanny. In fact he said "I am Bretagne. How you say een eengleesh I am Bretagne".

Every time, I spoke to him in French (and good French, even though I say so myself) he answered in dog-English. Turns out that he was actually from the small village in southern Britanny where I had spent childhood holidays.

The conversation could have been funny, interesting and nostalgic for both of us, had I been able to continue listening to him massacre the English language. Alas, I couldn't and had to cut it short.

I don't really mind helping people to practice their English but, to be frank, it's all a bit too much at the end of the night or first thing in the morning.

And especially when I'm taking a leak.

25 commentaires:

conortje a dit…

Try finding a Dutch person to speak Dutch to you in NL. Close to impossible. Unbelievably annoying!

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Yuk. Even harder than in France, Big C. Incredibly annoying.

CawfeeGuy a dit…

please to be explaining, you to me, "strategic peeing". i am giving you much thanks for the many laughs you have provided me with.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

CG - strategic peeing? It's when you don't really need to go but you think you should.

Situations where this may be appropriate (even prudent) are:

- prior to leaving a warm bar for a long walk home in the cold.
- before sitting down at the table to have a long drawn out meal that will include gossip what one doesn't want to miss.
- before getting on a bus/train/aeroplane where the facilities, if existant, are likely to be fetid.

Does this help?

wontletlifedefineme a dit…

it gets even more annoying when they decide you don't speak french fast enough and so must be a dimwit and they resort to talking to you in unintelligible English and making suspicious hand gestures...

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Marjolein, I've always shied away from suspicious hand gestures and those who make them. Bad eggs, usually.

Daryl a dit…

You are far nicer than I. I would have pretended not to understand their English .. but I am a mean girl and get pleasure, enormous pleasure, watching fish out of water ...

travelling, but not in love a dit…

D, maybe I should have chatted away in German instead - oh, damn, I knew I should have gone to more classes....

cb a dit…

Being American, I massacre both English AND french, fuck you very much.

And I can't visit now, knowing that you'll take the piss out of me for my efforts in both languages.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

CB! you got in there before I could! he he

I promise not to insult your linguist abilities....honest guv'nah. You just need to buy that ticket.

aims a dit…

Besides the language barrier thing and how absolutely annoying people can be.......

I note with much pleasure how many people are coming to visit you dear heart.

That would be some party. I might have to take a strategic pee myself before walking in the door.

Lane a dit…

I don't like anyone talking first thing in the morning or last thing at night - whatever the language. You're too nice. Can you not just do a Gaelic shrug?:-)

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Aims, I'm a popular boy, what can I say?

Lane, I think looking at them like they're crazy is the best way. Or looking at them like I'm crazy, he he.

Valleys Mam a dit…

hey try speaking welsh in Wales I get accused of being anti english.
Its really hard for first language speakers and learners

Ksam a dit…

And this is why we stay away from les Bretons..... ;)

Seriously though, that is one of my biggest pet peeves - I'm sure most people don't mean it that way, but I speak decent French and whenever people insist on continuing in English, it always makes me feel like they think my French is crap. It bothers me to no end!

12ontheinside a dit…

Why do people have the need to TALK to you when you're in the toilet! There's a time and place for conversation. That place is NEVER the bathroom!!!!! I do not want to even meet someone's eyes or acknowledge their existance should I run into them in the bathroom. I definitely don't want a light chat while I am PEEING!
(Er... I guess I feel kind of strongly about this!)

The Hangar Queen a dit…

We were taught that it was rude to switch between languages.If you were asked a question in French then you bloody well answered in French.

It is incredibly annoying isn't it? Last year in Frankfurt my attempts at German were strangled at birth.It was mortifying to have my cheery 'Guten Morgen' earn a steely Teutonic gaze held for a fraction of a second too long.The Stasi-issue 'Goot Mornink' was designed to wound I tell you.

Just pretend you're Irish.
"Parlez-vous le Gaélique?"

travelling, but not in love a dit…

VM, I used to work in a bi-lingual welsh/english team of 4. I was the only one who didn't speak welsh, so you can imagine my frustration at hearing my name in the middle of a welsh language conversation between the three of them....

used to drive me crazy...!

travelling, but not in love a dit…

Ksam - don't get me started on Bretons - Paris is full of 'em. Seriously, every guy who has spoken to me over the last few evenings out has been from Britanny....weird

12oti - did something bad happen to you in a bathromm as a child? he he, it seems you do feel strongly about this!

travelling, but not in love a dit…

HQ, I think that then having to explain that Gaélique is not Gallois would prove to be my undoing....aaargh!

Anthony a dit…

They probably don't get that wierd Brummy-cum-French accent think you have going on ....

travelling, but not in love a dit…

LaTanya, let's not talk accents sweetheart. I've heard your mockney, and I'm not impressed ;-)

Anthony a dit…

Oh HELL no! Bring it on!

Louise a dit…

Tell them you're from somewhere else.

I was in Iceland for 7 months and learned nothing more than "nice to see you" because people LOVED conversing in English... broken that it sometimes was.

travelling, but not in love a dit…

LaTanya, bring it on indeed...!

And Louise? Iceland? You really are a lady of mystery. I want to know more - post about this!

Were you running the banks there by any chance? he he.