Sunday, January 23, 2005
Salesman: I'm sorry Madame, but we don't have that here.
Me: Where could I find it?
Salesman: You could find it over at fZxhfdkc, it is nearby.
Me: Excuse me I didn't understand. Where?
Salesman: It is down the street and turn left at the red light.
Me: No what is the name of the store?
Me: FNAC? (a logical guess -- Jerome called Best Buy, the FNAC of the United States.)
Salesman: Non, Fuhn-OOSsss
Me: Fun Oos? I'm sorry, I didn't understand again.
We recently renewed our cell phone contract and as a result got a brand spanking new phone. Nice and small with a number of bells and whistles I'll never use ... except a camera. The phone however did not come with the pc adapter and software, so I decided to go to the little bouygues telecom boutique and buy it. But alas, they did not have it. This is where the conversation above started -- and it was in French I might add *patting herself on the back.*
Salesman: (a little annoyed) But Madame, it is an English word.
Salesman: (with gestures) Fon OOsss (pause) I will write it down.
Me: OH PHONE HOUSE
Salesman: Ah Oui, Phone 'Ouse
As I said before, little by very little I'm becoming more comfortable with the language and even have my little victories. Things that paralyzed me before don't stop me from jumping in and giving it a go. I have my playground French, I have my restaurant French, I have my call the French mother up and RSVP for the children's party French. I can generally understand what is being said to me even if responding appropriately and correctly is sometimes difficult.
However there have been a number of times when the thing that stumped me was an English word. Once some mothers were talking about the "cuh-bo-ees." "You know, they ride horses and have big hats -- its an American word." That would be COW-boys. Sometimes even with the correct pronunciation merely throwing in the odd English word plays havoc. Once someone threw the word 'management' into a sentence and that was enough to put me three sentences behind in the conversation.
Anyway, I managed to find the software and cable. Not at F-noos, but at FNAC. Little good it did me, the pictures aren't worth a thing.
-- said Auntie M in Paris
On another note - in 4 days, it will be the 8th anniversary of my father's death. I was extremely close to him and wish he could still be here to share in my life. I was lucky in that he finally saw me marry and have my first son just before he died. I sometimes feel that he stuck around just to see that and know that I was happy.
# posted by Pat : 10:28 AM
It never ceases to amaze me that the French get so frustrated when they throw an English word in a conversation and I don't understand it. It's become a joke now with my husband, "Don't you know English?" he'll tease me.
But I do have to confess that I have an odd feeling of satisfaction when I pronounce the word correctly. It's like giving a reminder: "Oh yeah, she's not stupid, she just speaks another language." ;)
# posted by ViVi : 1:27 PM
I'm so sorry about your Mom. Those anniversary days are hard. Hang in there.
# posted by Anonymous : 3:33 PM
my mother was confused for a moment and then yelled out, "vous voulez dire "westinghouse!!"
# posted by Anonymous : 4:16 PM
My heart is with you in your memories of your mom - isn't it kind of like just yesterday she was here despite the events of long ago that mark her. Our moms (mine passed 2+ yrs) are up there watching us.
Terry in SF
# posted by Anonymous : 5:50 PM
# posted by L'Amerloque : 8:24 PM
# posted by Kate : 2:05 AM
# posted by expatmama : 7:56 AM
Loved the phonousse!
# posted by Anonymous : 8:10 AM
My husband has recently started making this mistake.
"Yes, We ave heggs."
# posted by Anna : 9:16 AM
Yes, the anniversaries are difficult. My father died almost 7 years ago. My children will only know him from photos and from the stories about him that I share with them. It's great that you have your mom's photo with you in Paris. We have a photo of my dad here, too.
# posted by Oz : 10:11 AM
"J'ai shovellé mon driveway" or "J'ai freakin' soif/faim/fatigué".
# posted by Anonymous : 2:38 PM
As for your mom, I'm very sorry-- I'm going through that with my mom right now and it is very scary to think that she might not be there when I get married/ have kids.... It was good to hear someone else's experience!!
# posted by Magabe : 9:05 PM
To the two new commentors..
Expatmom, Welcome to the blog. I don't think I've encountered people making up English words, but I probably wouldn't have picked up on it either. Now that you point it out I'll probably notice it more.
Anonymous, Your comment made me laugh out loud. Even in my worst Franglais moments I never said something like.. J'ai freakin' soif. That is too funny.
# posted by Auntie M in Paris : 9:52 PM
BF: blahblah 'heeinsart ward'
BF: 'heeinsart ward'
BF: (confused) 'hinsart werd?'
Me: no, try again, tell me the word in French
BF: (frustrated)'hinser weyrd!'
Me: aaaahhhhh, 'insert word!'
BF: ouiiiiii, 'insert werrd!'
# posted by Nyx : 12:10 PM