I used to miss speaking French. I remember how exhausted I felt at the end of the day, my brain working hard to decipher English and to find an acceptable way to put words on my thoughts.
Browsing: French & English
“I asked for a… baguette au sésame. But they didn’t understand me at first, because I pronounced it as seSAmee instead of SAYsame.”
Oh, and while we are on the topic… stop ordering “French fries” in France.
North America’s delicate ears shall not be assaulted by strong language, much like delicate eyes shall not be exposed to nipples and delicate taste buds cannot stand foul unpasteurized cheese.
Speaking at least two languages fluently is so common in the immigrant community that I tend to forget it is indeed… a skill.
Just like most parenting topics, there is plenty of do-this-not-that advice and a huge gap between theory and practice. You can find me right there, in this gap, waving my arms.
Whether you are looking to expand your vocabulary or get some insight into the French psyche, here are six unique words and expressions for you to use… or not.
I felt completely isolated from other Canadians. I couldn’t do small talk, couldn’t relate to the culture, didn’t understand jokes and when arguing with Feng, I always ended up in tears because it crying was easier than expressing myself in English.
I’m not sure how many words there are in English, but after having a quick meeting with myself, we decided that whatever the magic number was, it was not enough. We need more words in our vocabulary. I said so.
Do you speak Canadian? Knowing basic slang words and canadianisms is a good start, but learning to read between the lines is also important. Every culture has expressions that shouldn’t be taken literally. So, what do Canadians really mean when they say the following?
I used to speak French like a French person. Hardly surprising considering I was born and raised in France—yes, I like to state the obvious. But lately, I realized that there were quite a few words or expressions I hadn’t used in ages.
As a native speaker of “Parisian French” in Canada, many prospective immigrants and local English speakers ask me what I think of “Québécois”, aka “Quebec French”, the predominant variety of French spoken here,
I now work as a freelance translator and bilingual copywriter and copyeditor. Working on my English paid off and I’m glad I’m perfectly fluent in both official languages—it makes my life in Canada much easier. After 10 Great Resources to Improve Your Quebec French Language Skills, here are 10 other great resources to focus on your English.
In the 2004 novel “A Year in the Merde”, an Englishman is sent to Paris to set up a chain of tea rooms in France. At the beginning of the book, the British guy tries to explain his French team that “My Tea Is Rich” is not a good name for a chain of English tea rooms.
I don’t feel as self-conscious about my English as I used to be, probably because I’m fluent now. Besides, I spend my days editing, reviewing, writing and translating documents in both official languages. Obviously, my English is good enough for that.
That said, there are mistakes I keep on making, no matter how many times I catch myself and correct them.
Language is highly cultural. Grammar and spelling can be taught at school but some vocabulary can only be learned in the street or even—gasp!—watching T.V.
In my first few years in Canada, immersed in the culture, I learned a lot of words and expressions I wouldn’t have found in grammar books.
The other day, we went to see Kiss & Kill, a U.S movie. You may have heard of it: the English title is “Killers”. Why did the French bother changing the original English title to another English title? No idea. Similarly, “The Spy Next Door” is “Kung Fu Nanny” here. Go figure!
Every day I thank the language Gods for the invention of the pronoun “you” in English. No matter who you talk to, whether it’s your boss, your in-laws, a close friend or a perfect stranger, it’s a no-brainer: just say “you”.
It’s not a given, you know. A lot of languages have two ways of saying “you”: French has “tu” and “vous”, much like Spanish has “tú” and “usted”, Portuguese has “tu” and “você” and Chinese has “你” and “您”.
It’s only when I showed up at Starbucks that I realized I had no idea how to order in French. And ordering my coffee in English in Montreal would look back, wouldn’t it. But I needed coffee: this is a working weekend for me and I haven’t had much sleep the last few days.
I occasionally miss not speaking English fluently. Trust me, life was a lot of fun when I could only understand half of what people were saying. My mind was working fast, perpetually trying to make sense of things. Could that be that?
Just like everything in Canada, it started with a long harsh winter. I was watching T.V when I suddenly realized that my weather vocabulary had expanded quite a lot
As most of you know, Canada has two official languages: French and English.
Now, most of the immigrants who are chosen under the skilled worker program will have to show language proficiency in either language. But it’s not always that easy.
The province of Quebec’s official language is French, and the province of New-Brunswick is officially bilingual. For the other provinces and territories, it’s a bit of a grey area… English is most widely spoken but there are French communities almost everywhere: in Ontario (the Franco-Ontariens), in Manitoba, in Alberta…