Saturday, March 26, 2011

80% accurate French Speaking is greatly appreciated by the French.

I found I am 95 to 98% fluent in French speaking, reading, and writing, but at best, about 66% in listening, especially with speakers who have a STRONG Central Massif accents (Clermont Ferrand, where they sound like there is cotton in their mouths), or when the speaker is rapidly delivering local colloquialisms, of which I have not previously been exposed.  I catch the basic essence of the conversation, but not the nuance. 

Of the 1/2 a dozen technical and commercial French speaking groups I met with this week, every single one of them complimented me on my French and expressed their appreciation for using their language.  They were nice enough to switch into English when my expression turned from one of comprehension to one of "huh, what did you just say? - so we conducted discussions in approximate 50% French with them speaking, and +90% in French with me speaking, using the subjunctive tense, reflexive verbs, simple past and future tenses as well as argot as often as possible,  and making every liaison between words that started in vowels (always tricky), guessing at most genders of nouns with a degree of accuracy, and always expressing a strong sense of self-deprecation "je parle francais comme la vache espanol" always put a native French speaker at ease and brought smiles to the faces of the people with whom I was speaking.  I tried to follow this with "Mais, il faut que on practiquer" (it is necessary that one practices).

We're off to go burn fossil fuels to look at wild flowers... no more time for blogging today.

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