Friday, April 12, 2024

I should be more motivated to brush up on my French before we head to the Olympics

Nice job with a "stereotypical French guy" photo, AI Blog Post Image Generator!

One of my favorite things about traveling to French-speaking areas of the world is getting the chance to put my 14 years of French language education to use.

As I've chronicled here before, I grew up in a school district where everybody took French in 1st through 6th grades. I continued taking it throughout middle and high schools, and nearly pulled off a minor in the subject with three years of additional French classes at John Carroll University.

The result has been that, on my eight or nine combined trips to Montreal and Paris over the years, I've been able to hold my own when it came to ordering in a restaurant, asking directions, getting answers to simple questions on the street, etc.

Actually, I've held my own in Paris much more than in Montreal. The Quebecois accent is such that my Parisian French education, combined with my Northeast Ohio inflection, renders me as unintelligible to some Montrealers as they are to me.

The point is, I know some French. Having not used it much, I read it much better than I speak it.

My daughter Elissa had almost as much French education as me and has taken actual French classes in recent years as an adult. She and I (along with Terry and Elissa's boyfriend Mark) are scheduled to arrive in Paris 16 weeks from today to take in some Summer Olympics events and generally see the sites as we're able.

I figure that, with our collective French proficiency and past experience in Paris, we should navigate just fine in the City of Light.

But I'm not going out of my way to review French vocabulary and syntax before we jet off to the continent. I should, but I'm not.

There are any number of excuses I can give for this, but the reality is that I'm simply a lazy American.

Language-wise (and many other wises), we are among the most spoiled people on earth. There are few places we can go where people won't either willingly speak English to us, or else roll their eyes and switch to English because we're obviously not going to make the effort to learn their language.

This is even worse because I mostly know their language. It wouldn't take much for me to get back into Francophone shape, but especially with a multi-cultural event like the Olympics, it will be easy to get around using only English.

I'm hoping to get more motivated between now and early August, but don't bet on it.

C'est la vie.

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