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French or English?


Helen

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I always communicate in French with utility companies etc in France.  My French is not bad though not error-free, and I struggle (and give up!) to include the accents on an English keyboard, so it looks like there are more faults than there really are.

On the most recent occasion, I got a reply in French, with a PS in English "Don't hesitate to write the answer in English if you prefer.'  The same thing has happened in shops.

What do others do in such circumstances?!  Is it churlish to reply in French when invited to speak English?

(I wonder how many water companies in England would invite a French person to reply in French....!)

 

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It is very commendable that the French are beginning to realise the need to use English as the Brits use Urdu and loads of other languages (irony here). However, if at all possible you should use French. Because it is part of a learning process. And because it is essential to speak the language of the country you adopt/move to/wanna spend time in. Otherwise you will always be an ethnic (in the linguistic sense) minority and a poor relation and an outsider and condemned to life outside or worse, in a Brit ghetto.

So Helen, thank them in French and keep persevering if you can.

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[quote user="Helen"] My French is not bad though not error-free, and I struggle (and give up!) to include the accents on an English keyboard, so it looks like there are more faults than there really are.[/quote]

If you mean you struggle to find the right codes etc for accents - rather than simply not knowing what accents to use - download  the "Type French Characters" application at www.avisoft.co.uk/FrenchChars/TypeFrenchCharacters.htm  . It's excellent and saves a lot of frustration.

Richard T

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I do just the same.........  Now I realize maybe I shouldn't.

When  British people speak French to me ( in France) and really try hard , I sometimes say they can speak English if they find it more comfortable, because I understand..

And now I feel guilty, I realize it is not right.

Thanks for posting this, helps me think about it .

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Thanks for the link to the french accented letters - a great help! I agree about sticking to French and will continue to do so (apart from the fact that I think it's simply good manners to speak French in France, I need the practice!).  But the offer from Veolia was very well intentioned and made me feel like I was getting excellent service from them, so no need to feel guilty Frenchie! 

 

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I thought I had the same problem with my doctor as Jacqui has with her vet, but the more French I spoke he finally told me how tiring he found speaking English.  Only problem is I would be there all day if we spoke only French.  We will have to share the load although once someone starts to speak in English I find it very difficult to concentrate on speaking French, if you know what I mean!!!
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[quote user="Jacqui Too "]

I have a similar problem with our vet!

Every time I speak in French he wants to speak English.[/quote]

I find that if people have some English, they like to practice too, but often I find they actually have less English than I have French.  Doctors, vets, and other similar type professionals often have some English as much of the research they need to access is in English (be it UK or US English) but it will be directed towards their own professional subject rather than ordinary English.  Whereas I find the English often have a grasp of ordinary French, but they struggle when it comes to detailed subjects (as exampled by the many questions on this forum).

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[quote user="Judith"]

, but often I find they actually have less English than I have French.  Doctors, vets, [/quote]

Well I cannot wait to be in that position.  I always speak in French to people and feel quite frustrated when they answer me in English.  Is it because my French is utterly shit and they feel sorry for me or are they stealing my thunder in trying to get a free English lesson for themselves? [:D]

Anyway, I must persevere to improve.

Another thing, I was told by a French colleague that when I speak French, I could be from anywhere in the world and that I don't sound at all English.  I don't really know what to make of that either. [blink]

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I guess that I am lucky to live in an area where hardly anyone speaks English and hence have found it (relatively) easy to learn French, I.E no other choice!

I can honestly say that during 3 years I have only met one person that can speak English  (she was my French teacher) although we only speak in French now unless we are alone, and even then often she will speak in English and me in French. I have also met a handfull of people who have after a long time overcome their shyness to want to practice a few words of English.

I went to a apero dinatoire Saturday at my AVF locale which is in a large and relatively cosmopolitan ville compared to where I live, for the first time ever someone asked me whether I would be more comfortable to speak in English or French (which I found charming), I chose French, the person was a new arrival from Paris.

I also had a fascinating conversation with a really interesting retired (early I think) Chef, he had worked for many years in French speaking African countries and had learnt English whilst working in Nigeria amongst others, it turned out that he started learning at the same late age as me (44) and did so for the same amount of time so we had a lot in common, although I was dismayed to learn that he has since lost all of his English. I hope that it is still there somewhere as I too have lost all the Spanish that cost me much time and money to learn.

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