Apr 222012
 
Do French people really use the expression "Ooh La La"?

        Something amazing is happening today! No, unfortunately, this is not Nicolas Sarkozy being kicked out of the Presidential Election (although the results won’t be in for another 12 hours or so, so we never know), it’s more modestly a new post on Ask a Frenchman! The first of 2012… and we’re late April… I should be embarrassed. I’m not. Let’s move on. So Marie, from somewhere (I suspect the US considering the question) asked the following [Read the rest]

Aug 162011
 

  (asked by Jennifer from the US) I have been to Paris several times and I make an attempt to speak French whenever possible. Apparently, my pronunciation is very good; they are invariably surprised that I am American. However, I am terrible at comprehending anything beyond a simple response, for example “ça coûte 25€” or “les w.c. sont là.” So what happens is that I will say something, they will respond in rapid-fire French, and I freeze, because I’m not [Read the rest]

May 262011
 
How this can be that so much would be borrowed from French in the English language?

I was always curious how this can be that so much would be borrowed from French if English has 1 million words and French has, what, maybe 100,000 tops? Rome invaded England before France did, and there were also the Danish, Norwegian, Greek and Dutch influences, and also English is a Germanic language itself, closest to the endangered language Frisian. (asked by Diane) Well, we’re straying away from French stuff here as we’re going to talk about the English language [Read the rest]

May 132010
 

(asked by E from the US) I always ask (in French) if the person speaks English. I’ve noticed French people tend to give some sort of demure response about not speaking English well… or very little. Then they proceed to speak very good English. It doesn’t seem like false modesty, but perhaps an underestimation of their own abilities. Is this a cultural thing? Head to Italy and it’s the opposite. I’ll ask if the person speaks English and they’ll give [Read the rest]

Mar 012010
 

(asked by Holly from the US) Okay, so you’ve had a question about whether the French can recognize regional American accents BUT what do they think about an American accent when someone speaks French? I have friends living in France who have had several reactions–one man complimented her on her “charming” accent and another told a friend that she shouldn’t speak French so well because American accents are charming and hers wasn’t strong enough. So what…is she supposed to “dumb [Read the rest]