At 09:00 3.2.2004, Philippe Caquant wrote:

>My wife is Ukrainian ans speaks a very poor and broken
>French. I noticed that every time she tried to utter a
>sentence in French somewhere:
>1/ French people immediately understand that she is
>not French
>2/ They nearly always (90% of cases) feel very
>grateful that she tries to say something in their own
>language, and make all necessary efforts to understand
>and correct her if necessary. They are even more
>admirative when they learn that her native languages
>are Russian and Ukrainian, from which they don't know
>a single word (except vodka and balalaika).

That was exactly my experience in both Iceland and
it works as you say.  NB my Icelandic (especially
pronunciation, my grammar was good but not perfect and
still is) got a lot better while I was there.
In France, however, most people pretended not to
understand me at all, which can not have been the
case.  One waiter even said to another "Il parle
comme les Négres", and I can assure you I didn't
say "Moi vouloir manger la spaghetti-là" when I
ordered.  Neither can my pronunciation have been
*that* funny, since my native language contains
those vowels that English speakers can't master,
and I made an effort to make /z/ and /Z/ voiced.
Indeed I believe my grammar is worse than my
pronunciation in French.

>This was usually the same for me in every country I've
>been travelling. Even saying "hello" and "thank you"
>in the local language is perceived as very friendly
>and brings usually a bright smile on the
>interlocutor"s face,

That's so for me in Greece and Cyprus, despite the fact
that my modern Greek is confined to 'hello, thanks, water,
yes, no'.  At a pinch I can write down an Classical word
in caps on a paper.  It works surprisingly often!
At one point I had to communicate with an old woman
who knew absolutely no English, but it turned out she
understood some basic Italian.  Between that and my even
more limited Greek we worked it out!

/BP 8^)
B.Philip Jonsson mailto:[log in to unmask] (delete X)
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