In college I studied Spanish, Portuguese, and even Hungarian; all more useful to my cultural prejudices and post-college travel plans than French.
I never made it to Budapest.
This is all the French I knew and/or learned on that trip:
- Je voudrais une bière, s’il vous plaît – I would like a beer, please
- pas grave – No worries, not a big deal, it doesn’t matter
Oh, and some Quebec French profanity to spice things up. (Want to see your French Canadian friends cringe? Scatter the following exclamations throughout your next conversation: crisse, maudit, ostie, tabarnac!)
Fortunately I was traveling with several French speakers (who cringed frequently for various reasons). With their help, code switching by the Quebecers I encountered, and pointing, I was able to order an adequate supply of beer and poutine to survive the trip.
In November I’m traveling to Montreal again, to see the Grey Cup (Canadian for Super Bowl).
So in anticipation of the trip, at the ripe old age of [late mid thirties], I’ve signed up for a French class.
French 101 at the Alliance Française de Portland:
The Alliance Française de Portland is a nonprofit cultural and educational group with annual enrollment of 700-800 students in French classes and monthly social and cultural events in the Portland metropolitan area. The group is a chapter of the Paris-based Alliance Française which promotes cross-cultural understanding and the French language and culture, and today has 1,071 chapters in in 133 countries.
I lured a few friends to the open house last week with promises of brie and fruit and wine. Lo and behold; brie and fruit and wine! (I did not predict the vanilla wafers however). We watched a brief theatrical presentation of which I understood nada. But I met my professeur and picked up my books. Classes start Monday. Wish me bonne chance!