Bonjour, salut et allo ! As you did or didn’t know (I think I mentioned it in the previous post), I’m currently studying French in the beautiful city of Québec. I still feel nowhere near fluent and I know I need to up my game as it were but I’m super nervous talking with strangers and looking like a fool. As soon as I can explain to someone that French isn’t my first language and I’m from England I feel a lot more comfortable, thing is, it’s difficult to sneak that casually into conversation when trying to order McDonald’s (or McDo as it’s known in French. I prefer the British slang MaccyD’s) at a drive-through.
“Ah bonjour. Je voudrais un hamburger avec fromage s’il vous-plaît.” (Hello, I’d like a hamburger with cheese please. Pretty reasonable request for McDonald’s).
“Hé-là, on a pas des hamburgers plus.” ((Really informal here for some reason) Hey there, we don’t have any more hamburgers. What?! No hamburgers at MaccyD’s?! Oh no, need to think quickly).
“Ehhh, ok. Ermmm….poulet ?” (Me, struggling for words and wondering if there’s anything else on the menu. I went for chicken. I was in luck).
“Um, oui. On a quelques poulet. Combien est-ce que vous-voulez ? Est-ce que vous voulez un trio aussi ?” (Slightly bemused response to say that they have some chicken. How many do I want and if I want a trio. What the hell is a trio?)
“Umm, oui ? (Good move by me here).
“How many pieces do you want and did you want it as a meal.” (They’ve finally given up and started using English).
“Six morceaux and oui. Un coke s’il vous-plaît. Oh, je viens de l’Angleterre.” (Not giving up. Six pieces and yes. I saw their next question coming and gave them a big old Coke before they could even ask. I come from England. Thought I’d sneak that in at the end although I feel it may have been too late).
Now, the above story isn’t true but it’s how I imagine every conversation will happen when I talk with a stranger. I know I’m crazy for thinking this as I know my French is good enough for this kind of shit but people here talk soooo fast. They also have such strong accents. I mean, at least if I were in China learning Mandarin, it would be very apparent to the natives that I am not one of them. I am not Chinese. I do not look Chinese. I am probably 4 or 5 inches taller than the average Chinese man*. They would know before talking to me that my Chinese is probably a bit shit. Here though, in Québec, I look like every other person. I’m white, average height and an English blight. Sorry, had to rhyme. They probably just think I’m stupid or not listening. Not sure which is better. One is half-true and the other isn’t very considerate. I usually get two sentences in and then end up looking lost and scared. I think more confidence is needed and also to be able to tell people that I’m here to learn French so please talk more slowly. I think I just need to articulate more.
That’s all I’ve got right now. You wouldn’t believe how long it took me to correct and double-check my French up there. I feel like such a baby in French some times even when I’m just trying to write a simple sentence. Also not easy to get across the accent of these Québecois folks. Learning French with Rosetta Stone did not prepare me for this.
*Thought I was being racist but I am actually 5 inches taller than the average Chinese man.