Lost in trans­la­tion

French Property News - - Contents -

Hav­ing pur­chased a hol­i­day home in north­ern Avey­ron, near Es­palion, a cou­ple of years ago, we de­cided to make a con­scious ef­fort to learn con­ver­sa­tional French, to as­sist with in­te­grat­ing into the lo­cal com­mu­nity, es­pe­cially since ev­ery­one we’ve en­coun­tered has been so gen­er­ous and wel­com­ing.

We have now en­tered re­tire­ment and thought that this would be the ideal op­por­tu­nity to start the learn­ing process in earnest. To this end, nu­mer­ous books,tapes, CDS and French crime drama DVDS with English sub­ti­tles were sub­se­quently pur­chased, with a view to achiev­ing this goal.

How­ever, our at­tempt to mas­ter the ba­sics has ex­pe­ri­enced some­thing of a set­back. Ini­tially we thought it was our pronunciation that was the stum­bling block, but hav­ing spo­ken with two French cou­ples who moved to the area from Stras­bourg, and an­other from Paris, it was ad­mit­ted that they too, ex­pe­ri­enced dif­fi­culty in un­der­stand­ing the lo­cal di­alect. I re­alise now that I naively as­sumed that French was sim­ply French and did not take into ac­count that lo­cal di­alects would ex­ist and be just as wide­spread in France, as they are in this coun­try.

I can sym­pa­thise with visi­tors to the UK who pos­sess an un­der­stand­ing of the English lan­guage, but then find them­selves in var­i­ous parts of the coun­try where the di­alect is noth­ing like that spo­ken on the BBC World Ser­vice!

We will per­se­vere, but it does raise the ques­tion whether there are par­tic­u­lar ar­eas where the lo­cal ac­cent can be prob­lem­atic even to fel­low coun­try­men and if we have found its epi­cen­tre!

I would be in­ter­ested in other read­ers’ ex­pe­ri­ences and how they over­came any lan­guage bar­rier, as the phrase “Dé­solé je ne com­prends pas” is get­ting a tad over used... Al­though on a pos­i­tive note, I could now pos­si­bly ex­cel in a game of cha­rades, at Christ­mas par­ties! In fact, so ac­com­plished am I at act­ing out words, I’m tempted to be the one to sug­gest such a game in the first place! Kevin and Zoe Holmes

The author of this month’s star let­ter WINS a year’s sub­scrip­tion to French Prop­erty News!

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