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To speak, or not to speak?

When Robin and I bought crêpes at Art Fair, the fellow making the crêpes had a French accent. I wanted to speak French to him, but I couldn't think of anything to say. Afterwards, I told my mother how I was kicking myself for having said nothing and my mom was disappointed. She thinks that I should use my powers for good whenever I have the chance. I think she fears that if I don't get into the practice of using them for good, I'll turn to evil. No one wants to be Lex Luthor's mom. I myself was disappointed to have passed up an opportunity to practice, out of fear that I'll eventually lose my French altogether.

Robin, on the other hand, didn't think I should have said anything. "When you were in France," she said, "would you have wanted strangers to speak English to you just because they could?" She's right - I usually end up getting insulted when I say something in French and people respond in English.

On the other hand, it might be nice to hear your native language in a polylingual desert like Michigan. Who knows? What do you think?

srah - Tuesday, 22 July 2003 - 5:54 PM
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Comments (4)

gravatar EV - July 23, 2003 - 11:53 AM -

I just got back from a year in Turkey, and shed blood, sweat and tears to learn the language, and so it would irk me a bit when I'd speak in Turkish and folks would answer in English. So I think you made the right choice.

gravatar srah - July 23, 2003 - 12:20 PM -

I wonder if we just say that because we're English speakers, though. There are so many people who speak English that we would be bombarded... maybe if you speak something less widely spoken (although probably not French, because people learn that all the time and butcher it), we wouldn't feel the same.

gravatar EV - July 23, 2003 - 5:01 PM -

Hmm, perhaps, I didn't think of that. You're right, maybe if someone is just dying to hear their own language just once is this forsaken new place they're in, it would be a welcome thing. Ahh, Anglocentrism.

gravatar katie - July 27, 2003 - 5:22 PM -

The first time I lived in France, my host father insisted on speaking only English to me at the dinner table. His was horrible. If I tried to respond in French, it made him angry and he would order me to speak English. It was very discouraging because I wanted to practice my French.

I went home early because he drank too much and was mean. (Not because of the English thing, though.)

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