Wednesday, June 17, 2009
So How's Your French?
So how's your French? That's a phrase I hear a lot between visitors and the ex-pat community. Replies will vary from "awful", "coming along", or "not bad". This later is the group that needs watching. Take one neighbor who has lived here about six years and feels her French is very good, doesn't need any help with anything. The visit to the plastic surgeon for a few adjustments would be a simple matter.
When she visited the doctor, she was missing a tooth, that would be replaced soon, but she didn't understand when he was asking her about that. Her lip on that side was filled in to accommodate a "dent perdu". Good thing it was only a bit too much collagen.
Help translating tax and financial issues is another area where I would also bring along someone who can really speak the language. I love le avocat, but not so crazy about les avocats. The first I make guacamole with, the second might accompany one into court.
So, how is my French? After taking up the language well into middle age, it is difficult at best. In a resturant, a shop or the antique market I can be understood, and generally understand what is being said. Last week I spent three delightful hours at the dinner table with elderly neighbors, who only speak French. There were few lapses in conversation, and they were very helpful and ready with a dictiornary. Marc spent two years as a prisoner of war for crossing the Line of Demarcation during WWII. Listening to Marc and Lousie recount how they met after the war was priceless. That is the kind of evening that makes my struggle with French worthwhile. My photo is Marc and Lousies' garden. They are both 87, and are out there every day.