Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Say what?


"Zhe parhrlay fransay", I would say to myself trying to build up some confidence.
Je parle français, tu parles, il, elle, on parle, nous parlons, vous parlez, ils elles parlent, I would write (practice makes perfect).

I would go on French vacations and recite faithfully from my Berlitz phrase book: "parhrlay voo ahnggleh?" Of course no one French ever heard me say "zhe parhrlay fransay" because it wasn't a claim I could make. A simple "non" was uttered in place of "je ne parle pas français" on the very few occasions I was asked and understood the question. It was a painless answer for me and my French listener.

So for years (my phrase book is from 1996!) I was not aware of my elemental French faux pas. I knew that French wasn't pronounced as written- but I didn't know to what degree. Now I'm starting to learn and getting very muet though it feels more like mute!

On the plus side, look how easy it is to pronounce the conjugations of regular ER verbs in the present (silent!): four for one (it looks like a bargain, doesn't it?)

je parle
tu parles

il, elle, on parle
ils, elles parlent

On the other side- if you can't look, listen to how much harder it becomes to recognize the word that's being said (ils and elles sound like il and elle as well!)
c'est ce qu'on dit:

Merci beaucoup Sebastien.

C'est ce qu'on dit = That's what they say
muet (nm) = tongue-tied
parler = to speak, to talk
Je parle français = I speak French
Je ne parles pas français = I don't speak French
Parlez-vous anglais? = Do you speak English?

Photo: un Singe (macaca sylvanus) à Gibraltar, janvier 2006

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