Thursday, June 18, 2009

You too can speak French, in one easy blog post

Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris

I spent a few hours today wandering around the ever more heavily touristed streets of central Paris. Ostensibly, I was in search of traces of Roman Paris, and sadly few of these exist today, but that is the subject of a future blog post. Either way, simply wandering around Paris on foot is always an enjoyable experience.

I found myself in the Ile de la Cite, around Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris, and also in the Left Bank around Boulevard St Germain and Boulevard St Michel and was a bit surprised (and frankly a bit disgusted) to hear several groups saying, in rather loud american accents "like, they can speak english, you know. They do it on purpose!".

Don't just assume that everyone throughout the world speaks english. You will be amazed how easy it is to make some minimal effort to learn some of the language ... the locals will appreciate it, and even if they still can't communicate with you in english, at least they can tell you as much, and you can understand, in their native language.

When travelling you are in a foreign country, after all, that includes a foreign language as well as foreign cultures, and surely that experience is a large part of the joy of and reason for travelling.

Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris and more tourists

I firmly believe that anyone who has sufficient education to work and save enough money to travel to France (or have a rich enough daddy or mommy to pay for them to travel) can learn a small handful of phrases in french (or for that matter to learn some basic phrases for any country they travel to) which will make the stay that much easier and more enjoyable for everyone involved.

It's really not that hard to learn a few key phrases in the french language and to show some basic manners (such as being friendly) when travelling. I am continually amazed how rude some tourists can be.

As such, I have decided to post some key words and phrases here to help anyone considering visiting France but who has no french language skills.

Here you have a word or phrase in english; the equivalent word or phrase in french; and the phonetic spelling (i.e. how it is pronounced) in french:-

english = can you speak english?
french = parlez vous anglais?
sounds like = parley voo onglay?

english = thank you (very much)
french = merci (beaucoup)
sounds like = maresea (bokoo)

english = please
french = s'il vous plaît
sounds like = silvoo play

english = hello (daytime)
french = bonjour
sounds like = boenjooh (barely pronounce the "n")

english = hello (evening)
french = bonsoir
sounds like = boenswa (barely pronounce the "n")

english = goodbye
french = au revoir
sounds like = orvwa

english = excuse me
french = pardon
sounds like = pardonh (barely pronounce the "n")

english = yes
french = oui
sounds like = we

english = no
french = non
sounds like = non (barely pronounce the final "n")

english = can you repeat that (more slowly)(please)
french = pouvez vous repeter (plus lentiment)(si'l vous plaît)
sounds like = poovay voo repetay (ploo larnteemont)(sil voo play)

I hope those ten words and phrases are of some assistance to someone ... anyone.

A visit to Paris at least once in your life is quite an experience and one which I highly recommend.

Just try to learn the smallest amount of language before you do, or at least don't assume everyone speaks english.

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