Saturday, September 16, 2006

Allez

The last thing to go in the carry-on bags are the two French phrase books, very nifty pictures, entirely useless for anything other than a drink coaster for booze on the plane.

Both purport to contain great heaps of everyday phrases the average American traveler might use. I hope I do not run into the person whom the editors seem to think has a burning, constant need to announce "I would like to order the brains." I also enjoyed "Do not lean out of the window."

Pronunciations are an issue; the French equivalent of the average English phrase can take years. Both guide books contain "emergency phrases", but the structure's very language seems designed to bounce Americans off the morass of vowels and apostrophes: "Does anyone here speak English?" is "Est-ce qu'il y a quelqu'un ici qui parle anglais?" By the time you gut that one out, the E. coli has spread to the farthest reaches of your spleen.

Josh The Pilot is kinda-sorta-formerly fluent, so he tried to help me with my pronunciation, which went about as well as my first day of driver's ed, only with fewer mass injuries.

"Bonjour," he said.

"Bonjour."

"No. You're pausing too much. Slide it together. Bonjour."

"Buh--juh."

"Now you're not pronouncing all the vowels."

"I said it just the way you said it!"

"You did not."

"I did!"

"Try it again."

"Bon-joooor."

"Okay, that'll get you dragged behind the Louvre and killed."

"Eh, just as well."

orange sorbet served in an orange is orange givree, write it down at: mb@blondechampagne.com

5 comments:

Rick said...

From what I've observed, the key to proper French pronounciation is to slur it together. While I was in the service, I once spent a couple of weeks in Belgium and one member of our team had taken French in high school so he was designated our translator. I noticed that the more he and our Belgian counterparts dranks and the more the speech was slurred, the better they understood each other.

It seems the French don't pronounce half the vowels anyway.

maverick said...

Hello,
Great blog...it sounds like your trying to get a handle on things and that is great! Gotta go, I'm looking for a baby shower centerpiece for a baby shower I'm going to and I don't know where I'm going to find it. Guess I'll check out www.diapergifts.combaby shower centerpiece, I've heard that is a good place to start.

Ophelia said...

"Could you show me to the ladies room?"
"Oui, oui, Madam."
"Oh no, I just have to powder my nose."

Sorry, just couldn't resist. Have a blast on your trip!

red pill junkie said...

Brains are yummi!! ;-)

Josh The Pilot said...

Imagine this conversation over the phone, while I'm driving. It's the latest rage in language learning!

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