Thursday, June 24, 2010


Speaking French MUST be easy. Little kids as young as three years of age can do it! I can't. A lot of me wants to, but if I could it would take a lot of the fun out of travel. On first hearing a language spoken it sounds like babble. We have all 'been there'. But if you listen, especially if you know the context, some of the spoken words start to make sense.

It seems as though Parisians speak very fast and take a great deal of pleasure in doing so. Whether this is a deliberate ploy to prevent foreign access to the language is debatable, but the total effect is at least to delay acquisition of this intriguing way of communicating.

Some encounters with foreign language are most edifying. An example for me took place during a walk by the beautiful Lake Annecy yesterday. Past the boat restaurant and the fountains, over 'Lover's Bridge' (over the canal) we saw a sign advertising the rental of boats that can be propelled through the water by means of energy generated in much the same fashion as cyclists use. You know what I mean. You have seen them for rent on many an Ausralian beach or lake resort. Your kids nag you to 'have a go' in one , and you reluctantly agree, only to fond that you quite enjoy the experience. What are they called? In Australia (and in England) we call them "Peddle-Os". Here in French-speaking Annecy they are called "Pedal Eau"s - 'pedal on water'. Get it? I think the French can justifiably claim first dibs on that one, don't you?

Just a little aside on the use of language in this blog. You will notice that I have not taken any cheap shots at the French. Here are some French words ripe for punning:

piscine (English: "pool"),
bastide ("artificial village with straight streets and town square built in 12th century to keep English at bay"),
oui ("yes" - see 'piscine', above).

AT NO TIME have I lowered myself to such depths. [However, there is a Mars Bar for anyone who can cleverly form a sentence in English that cleverly includes these, and any other Franglaise words into a sensible double entendre sentence! It is not Fran Vaughan's style to enter into such depravity, so the contest is wide open. Besides, Fran is already owed two Cherry Ripes!]

Despite all the problems I have encountered with French, it remains an intriguing language and one I would very much like to master. Its rhythm makes it delightful to listen to, whoever speaks it. The skylarking boys on the skateboards, the smoking pastis drinkers in the bars, the market stall holders and the spruiking bateau renters all convey a wonderful musicality that I shall miss. Back to speaking English on Saturday after we drive back to Paris, drop off the car and hop onto the Eurostar bound for London on Saturday.

Talk later ...


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