My son and I are competing to see who can learn the most French by next week (super cram-cram course). Hey, it’s not like it’s a difficult language or anything.
So far, I think I am in the lead, with:
- I don’t speak French. (Je ne parle pas français.)
- I don’t know. (Je ne sais pas.)
- I don’t understand. (Je ne comprends pas.)
- I don’t know where I am. (Je ne sais pas où je suis.)
- I don’t know what I’m eating. (e ne sais pas ce que je mange.)
- Is this alive? (Est-ce vivant?)
- Please don’t hurt me. (S’il vous plaît ne pas me blesser.)
You’ll notice I used the formal “please” there. If you’re begging for mercy, always be polite.
Naturally, I’ve added some existential phrases to my vocabulary as well (so existential, in fact, they don’t even require translation), such as:
- Who are you?
- Who am I?
- Where am I going?
- Is this all there is?
I figure the French like to get right to the heart of all existential matters. I like that about them – not having spent very much time with them. Yet.
To make friends quickly and easily, one should learn practical, conversation-starting inquiries and comments (to be utilized preferably in a bistro setting):
- Hey, how about that Jacques Cousteau? I could never hold my breath for that long!
- Wow! You talk just like that Maurice Chevalier.
- Cool scarf. My friend puts one on her dog that looks exactly like that! It’s super cute.
- You remind me of someone I know… (lights a long cigarette in a longer holder here and dramatically drags). Wait, (exhales sensually, coughs violently)… I know: Jean-Paul Sartre!
I can also intertwine some French-sounding utterances with random songs of Edith Piaf. Sure, I’ll have to vocalize for about forty-five minutes to an hour beforehand, but the payoff will be plenty of French Friends. (Yes, 2 capital “Fs” required there).
Then, I fully intend to win our Slamming-At-Home-Crash-Course-of-Learning-French-a-Week-Before-Our-Trip Competition and put my son to shame without shattering his self confidence (entirely) by pronouncing the following stolen words with a French accent:
- Coup d’état
- Foie Gras (yuck)
- Bon Apetit! (…to be shouted across a restaurant. I bet French peeps love that!)
Why didn’t I put money on this competition? I would clean up.
‘That’s cheating,’ you say. We’ll see. I shall return with either new friends or a record of time served. Quoi que sera, sera!