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 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
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montmorency
Diglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 2870 days ago

2371 posts - 3675 votes 
Speaks: English*, German
Studies: Danish, Welsh

 
 Message 3081 of 3740
17 September 2013 at 1:44pm | IP Logged 
They can control what language they speak in, but they can't control what language you
speak in. So one could just carry on regardless. Good practice for switching (mentally),
I'd think.
2 persons have voted this message useful



simonov
Senior Member
Portugal
Joined 3631 days ago

222 posts - 438 votes 
Speaks: English

 
 Message 3082 of 3740
17 September 2013 at 5:46pm | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:
simonov wrote:

Especially when you're the jerk who slaughters their language mercilessly.
P.S. By 'you' I mean 'one', nothing personal really.

I hope you don't ever teach me a language.

I wouldn't even dream of it! But we're not talking about "teaching", where one is paid to try and get someone to not slaughter a language. Being used as an unpaid tutor and having broken language inflicted on us is not everybody's cup of tea.
Iversen's French guy in the aquarium obviously was insensitive, and had an inflated opinion of his own prowess as a speaker of English. Not very interesting as a conversation partner anyway.

Edited by simonov on 17 September 2013 at 5:47pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Teango
Triglot
Winner TAC 2010 & 2012
Senior Member
United States
teango.wordpress.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3598 days ago

2210 posts - 3734 votes 
Speaks: English*, German, Russian
Studies: Hawaiian, French, Toki Pona

 
 Message 3083 of 3740
17 September 2013 at 9:57pm | IP Logged 
I suffered a similar experience as Iversen in Marseilles and Paris on several occasions, and usually in the company of older generations who focused far less on English at school and were exposed to considerably less English media than younger generations in their formative years. I can't really say that I've had the same type of trouble speaking any other language elsewhere in the world.

Sure, everyone wants to practise their English these days (try living in Germany for a couple of years - so many people have amazing English!), but usually this gives way to the more fluent common language after a few minutes of social negotiation (or at least both speakers settle on communicating at a basic level in the language that wins that battle).

I'll readily admit my French speaking is intermediate and certainly nothing compared to the advanced and fluent posters here in this thread, but surely it would be more fun to have a basic flowing conversation in a café over a glass of pastis, than fish for a few elementary phrases plucked from schoolday obscurity, and rely on growing gestures of frustration, furrowed brows, and pouting lips...all ultimately leading to the death of what could have been a potentially interesting dialogue.

Am I murdering the French language really so badly? Do I have no right to speak the language unless it's near-native perfect? And even if I do eventually speak French like a near-native one fine day, will it make any difference? I just don't get it; maybe someone can help explain this bizarre phenomenon. I wonder if even native French speakers from other parts of the world have similar trouble in Paris, for example, and end up having to speak English too (lol).

I certainly don't have the same experience in countries like Russia, Spain, Japan, or even Sweden (where many people have a very advanced level in English). On the contrary, in an age where English is so ubiquitous, local people usually seem very impressed that a foreigner took the time and effort to attempt to speak in their language and show respect for their culture.

This speaking French issue is so confusing. Maybe other people have had similar experiences in other languages, and I've just been lucky so far in other countries. Well, whatever it is, at least I feel a little better to read that even advanced speakers in this Forum have to endure the same fate from time to time. Maybe the best tip (if you know your second language level is already quite good enough for basic conversation, the other person is really struggling just to find a few phrases in your native language, and you're in the target language country anyway) is to do what montmorency and The Beautiful South suggest, and just "carry on regardless". Rant over; I feel better now. :)


Edited by Teango on 17 September 2013 at 10:11pm

3 persons have voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2749 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 3084 of 3740
17 September 2013 at 10:28pm | IP Logged 
simonov wrote:
tarvos wrote:
simonov wrote:

Especially when you're the jerk who slaughters their language mercilessly.
P.S. By 'you' I mean 'one', nothing personal really.

I hope you don't ever teach me a language.

I wouldn't even dream of it! But we're not talking about "teaching", where one is paid
to try and get someone to not slaughter a language. Being used as an unpaid
tutor and having broken language inflicted on us is not everybody's cup of tea.
Iversen's French guy in the aquarium obviously was insensitive, and had an inflated
opinion of his own prowess as a speaker of English. Not very interesting as a
conversation partner anyway.


It's also poor customer service. Customer is king, if he wants to do business in your
language...
1 person has voted this message useful





Iversen
Super Polyglot
Moderator
Denmark
berejst.dk
Joined 4745 days ago

9084 posts - 16476 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 3085 of 3740
19 September 2013 at 10:30am | IP Logged 
Maybe I should add that I haven't had any trouble with other Frenchmen, only that lamentable case, so I wouldn't judge a whole nation on such a limited basis. But of course you can be so bad at a language that you can't expect local people to do their business with you in the local language.


Edited by Iversen on 19 September 2013 at 11:18am

1 person has voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3051 days ago

3277 posts - 6777 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 3086 of 3740
19 September 2013 at 2:20pm | IP Logged 
Of course you can be so bad but in that case, you are unlikely to pass a B2 exam for example. I surely met a lot of french who had no trouble using French with me but the % is much different than in other european countries I visited (and I have visited approximately half Europe so far). What strikes me more than my personal experience (which can be biased of course) is the number of people who have got exactly the same experience. That cannot be a coincidence in my opinion.
1 person has voted this message useful



Jeffers
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 2951 days ago

2151 posts - 3960 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Hindi, Ancient Greek, French, Sanskrit, German

 
 Message 3087 of 3740
19 September 2013 at 5:33pm | IP Logged 
Iversen wrote:
Maybe I should add that I haven't had any trouble with other Frenchmen, only that lamentable case, so I wouldn't judge a whole nation on such a limited basis. But of course you can be so bad at a language that you can't expect local people to do their business with you in the local language.


Interestingly, I had the opposite experience with some students from England in a different French aquarium (up North). The students were supposed to be practising their French, and the lady at the snackbar insisted on speaking with them in French. When the students would ask for something in English, she would tell them how to say it in French. At the time I wasn't learning French myself (I was along as a member of the Humanities deptartment), but I was disappointed that students who were in their second year of French didn't know how to say, "how much is this?"

Down in Besançon, on the other hand, I successfully asked about prices and bought tickets for a boat ride. When I asked for the departure time, and I got a bit mixed up with numbers, the woman groaned loudly and spoke to me in English in an annoyed tone. She was probably someone who wasn't paid enough to really care about the customer, but still a jerk.
1 person has voted this message useful



Tsopivo
Diglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 2513 days ago

258 posts - 411 votes 
Speaks: French*, English
Studies: Esperanto

 
 Message 3088 of 3740
19 September 2013 at 7:59pm | IP Logged 
Cavesa wrote:
What strikes me more than my personal experience (which can be biased of course) is the number of people who have got exactly the same experience. That cannot be a coincidence in my opinion.


I have not done nor observed the same thing but I agree that I have read about it many times to discount it.

If someone has trouble with French, it is usually considered polite to switch or offer to switch to their NL but I can't really see a reason why you would continue doing so if the person mention they prefer talking in French and your command of their NL is not as good as their French. That's weird.

tarvos wrote:

It's also poor customer service. Customer is king, if he wants to do business in your
language...


Then keep in mind that "customer service" and this kind of reasoning ("customer is king so if he wants this then the employee has to comply") does not held the same importance worldwide.

Besides, not all customers would be put out by switching to a common fluent language if service is slowed down by the poor level of a particular customer in the country's language.

Edited by Tsopivo on 20 September 2013 at 8:13am



1 person has voted this message useful



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