Is speaking French posh?

I've been in England now for nearly 5 years and had the time to see, hear or just witness some amazing and funny things, trust me on that, but I'm always amazed at how many people in England will tell you that they speak French. Or believe they speak French. Let me explain this please...

For most people in the UK, French means great wines, great fashion brands, tasty food (definitely) and a great place for an expensive week-end or a family house in the south; in one word, here on the other side of the English Channel, French means "POSH"
What I'm trying to say is that generally people believe that knowing how to say hello (Bonjour), thank you (merci) or "comment ca va aujourd'hui" (how are you today), being able to order a glass of wine in a pub in Paris or a piece of French cheese in Waitrose, means that they speak French.

Well let me tell you that I strongly doubt that first. I mean I didn't need to go in school to learn English and get a good job in 3 different English countries (England, USA, Canada). No, what I did was watch CNN or the BBC, listen to Tupac Shakur and read NBA magazines before I could pass my TOEFL in France with success. And yes my English isn't perfect and I still learn everyday but I would challenge anyone to learn French (and I mean French...) just by watching TV5 or Canal +, by listening Serge Gainsbourg or IAM and by reading French fashion magazines.

If you look at it deeper you'll realise that each time the last two French presidents (Chirac & Sarkozy) came here in UK or went in the United States, they both had interviews and local talkshows in English, but did you ever see or hear Georges W. Bush, Tony Blair or Gordon Brown having to listen and answer questions in French when they went to Paris on a shopping trip...... I don't think so

Let have another look at this with a transcript from a conversation I had with a "Posh" colleague here at IBM :

The Peace Blogger: Hi how are you today mate?
The "posh" IBM dude: No bad thanks to ask, but can I ask you something...
The Peace Blogger: Yes obviously, what's wrong
The "posh" IBM dude: Nothing just wanted to know if you're French because you sound French...Are you?
The Peace Blogger: Well I'm from Gabon/Cameroon, which mean that French is my first language, why
The "posh" IBM dude: Just funny because you know, I do speak French too and have a house over there... (I'm Posh dude)
The Peace Blogger: Really!
The "posh" IBM dude: Yes I swear.... Bonjour....Comment..va..bien "today"...
The Peace Blogger: Je vais bien, un peu fatigue mais ca va, et toi comment va la famille
The "posh" IBM dude: Euh...J'aime le...vin...je suis dans la...maison...a moi...
The Peace Blogger: Ouhaa pour l'instant je comprends rien du tout, ou habites tu en France?
The "posh" IBM dude: Euuuuh...tu as vois...le..derrière...hahahaha...j'aime...Paris beaucoup...
The Peace Blogger: Ok, bien essaye mais je continue a rien comprendre de quoi tu parles Lol...
The "posh" IBM dude: Euuuh...je...boire la...bière au...café...et acheter...baguette...hahaha...j'aime....baguette...
The Peace Blogger: Je suis impressionné par ton Français, excellent. Félicitations...
The "posh" IBM dude: Euuh merci...beaucoup mon ami...euuh a...demain....

Well as you can see, if this is what speaking French means for most folks here in UK, I deserve a PhD in English literacy....

1 comments:

October 8, 2008 at 4:29 AM Anonymous said...

Though - to be honest, perhaps M. Gainsbourg's words are not the most appropriate to learn French from ;)

James B

 

© THE PEACE BLOGGER
Revolution Elements by Blozard. Original WP theme by Jason Schuller | Distributed by Deluxe Templates