So, I am recently returned from my first trip to Paris. As I mentioned in earlier posts, I had a great deal of apprehension regarding this excursion, much of which owing to the fact that I do not speak French. Let me give you some back round.
When I was in high school, my family hosted French Canadian students for the summer. They were a very friendly and energetic group of teenagers and we spent the summer experiencing all the lovely tourist traps LA has to offer*. As you can imagine, most of the summer was actually spent in LA traffic. During all of the long car rides, a favorite game of the Canadians was to ask me to speak to them in French. They would say a word and I would attempt the pronunciation and then they would laugh. They loved this game.
Fast forward 11 years and you can see that this seemingly harmless game has left a scar. I was afraid that French people would laugh at me trying to order a ham and cheese sandwich. But, seeing as it has been 11 years, I rounded up my fears stuck them in a pocket and went to Paris.
It was awesome. Not just Paris, which would be hard to screw up**, but conversing with the French. Admittedly, at first there were some tricky points, but once I slowed down and started to listen more I was able to not only say 5 or 6 useful French words, but my English actually improved as well. I had to remove slang and colloquial phrases from my diction if I wanted the French with their classroom English to understand me. At times it felt like an exercise in communication I would be given at some corporate job training retreat. I loved it.
And, whenever we wanted to speak privately, my travel companion and I would just talk quickly to each other. Not only could they not understand our speed English, but I don't think anyone we met ever understood what she said regardless of speed. Somewhere there are French Canadians laughing.
*They were always most excited to go to Venice beach and Santa Monica because that is where they film Baywatch. . .and you thought it was just the Germans with the Hasslehof fetish.**Ask my travel companion who was pick pocketed for 300 euro and still managed to enjoy her holiday.