Saturday, September 3, 2022

French Lessons

I am not a very good student of languages, and although over the years I have traveled extensively, I have never learned more than a few words of Portuguese, Spanish, French or Chinese even when I spent a while in countries where these languages were spoken. I did learn simple greetings, such as “hello”, “good by” and “thank you”, as well as important things like how to order a beer, but not much else. 

I did have to study French when I was in Jr. High in New Brunswick, and I did actually pass the class at least one year, but only with the teacher keeping me after school for days drilling it into me, and I must admit none of her hard work stuck. After a few poor experiences in Quebec with the language (Although I will readily admit it was during the 70’s when I was young and Quebec was in crisis), I tended to avoid the province completely, going so far as timing my trips to visit the children in Ontario so I could drive right through without stopping. I have to admit that my attitude has improved and Quebec has improved to the point that I now quite enjoy visiting the province, but mostly because they have become more tolerant of us “English speakers”. 

 We did spent a week in St Pierre & Miquelon
An Irish Pub in France - should be english here

, the French Islands off Newfoundland, but because of their proximity to the rest of Canada, I found most folk there understood and spoke English reasonably well.

 And now here I am in Narbonne France for a month, followed by a week on a rental boat on the Canal de Midi. Like many of the places we visit, it is not a major tourist centre, and we quickly discovered that there is very little English to be heard or seen. There are some signs in English, but even those are limited, and products and information is all just in French. In other places we were able to ask for an “English Menu” in restaurants, and usually a tattered and slightly out of date one was found; not so here, I am going to have to translate if I eat out. 

 Unfortunately, although we did invite our good friend who is proficient in French to come and act as guide, we failed to convince her. 
The Hale Market . . . not a word of English

 Fortunately I do have good old Google, and their Google Translate will read almost anything and give me a translation. We have already used it to set up a SIM card for our phone, for finding ingredients in grocery stuff, and to read instructions for the oven in the apartment. It will be handy to have. 

 Hopefully, having to actually live and communicate in mostly French, I will learn a few more words and expressions. Well, we will see . . . . . .

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