Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Je ne parle pas français

I called Jennifer today. She is on a business trip in Rouen so this was my first attempt at speaking French with a French. It was a trip to hell and my first experience on how thick the French can be (no offence).

Me: Bonsoir.
Hotel: Bonsoir.
Me: er... (very badly) Je voudrais parler avec Jennifer Hardi, chambre quatorze s'il vous plait...
Hotel: (inaudible)
Me: er...uhm... Je ne parle pas français...
Hotel: Oui. (inaudible)
Me: (very slowly) Parlez-vous anglais?
Hotel: Oui.
Me: Oh, thank you...! Room fourteen please!
Hotel: (quiet)
Me: Uhm... Est-ce que quelqu'un parle anglais?
Hotel: Oui. (inaudible)
Me: Je ne comprends pas. Please, room fourteen please, that is one four. Chambre un quatre!
Hotel: Okay. Hold on please.
Me: Merci.

It was pretty difficult speaking French with a fast speaking French who understands English but makes no attempt to communicate in other languages other than their own. To make matters worst, Jennifer wasn't in!!! Obviously having fun. Now I have to do the whole French thingy again tonight.


faridz7 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
faridz7 said...

im a msian in london as well. took me a while to get used to it too

mamat said...

Start with english, straight-away!

Or, maybe why don't you amuse them and ask for Jennifer's extension using your own mother tougue? Or Bahasa Melayu?


Jon said...

Won't work on the snail eating frogs (no offence to any Frenchies). You need to start with their language or at least prove to them you are trying.

Kat said...

Heh. I know what you mean. I was in France a couple of years ago. I got lost and asked for directions in French, being the smart ass that I was. All I got was inaudible French and I was too embarassed to ask for them to repeat in English, knowing that all I'd get was a scorn from the Frenchies.

mei xian said...

what business trip? she's working meh? anyways did she laugh at u? just speak english next time...hotel ppl are supposed to know english or at least understant english.....

Jon said...

She was invited by the university there. Still classified as a business trip.

Jen said...

Well, apparently from 20 attempts I had made to speak to local people in French, only two gone badly wrong! so, i would say that they are actually pretty friendly ;)

The first one was when I need to ask for my room key for the first time and I said "quatorze" (pronounce something like Kath-ouer)to "Katsu" (as in chicken katsu!)! luckily they just smile and corrected me!

The second one was when i was badly in need for toilet during the conference so I went out to the reception and ask the receptionist in english where the toilet is to a surprise that she said suddenly said it so loudly in French "Pardon?!" and I thought she might not understand my english and so ask her again in french this time for the "toilette" and this time she answer me in english "toilet?!" and I said "oui" and oh-my-god suddenly she speak in French so fast that I only so be grateful that upon explaining to me, she also put her hand in somekind of direction and to safe me from embarassement, I just said thank you so much in french and quickly following where she pointed her hand on!

Anonymous said...

i was in france last year and most of them spoke with me in english but that was probably because they knew i wasn't english.

Jon said...

Well that was what I heard, a couple of Malaysians went there and they pretended not to know English or French. And it worked!

Mei said...

Next time, just speak in English. Most people in the tourism industry would know at least basic English but warning: the accent is strong. AND really, they don't mind. A lot of them (the younger ones especially) would be happy to get some practice.

Btw, about 30% of English comes from French, so sometimes you are able to pick up some words. I had a blast in Paris last year.