Re: OT: Linguae franca

From: Erland Sommarskog (
Date: Wed Jan 03 2001 - 18:43:28 EST

Antoine Leca <> writes:
> Yet, the result is certainly not what I call bilingual. There is
> a joke here in France about the pityful result of the average French
> person (myself included) which, when he detects a foreigner trying to
> use French with a strong accent, switch to use English (often bad and
> not easy to understand), while keeping using French will certainly
> be much easier to understand (I found it is often if not always, much
> easier to understand a foreign language than to speak it correctly).

I was in Limoges and was to rent a car. First I spoke with the clerk
at the desk, and we spoke in French. Then there was this young boy,
probably less than 20 years old who was to show me the car and give
me instructions. And he insisted on speaking English. True, I'm far
from fluent in French - although I find it easier to speak than to
grasp what those fast-speaking Frenchmen say! - but this guy's English
was really poor. He could not have studied it for more than one or two
years. Myself, I kept on speaking French, because I found it ludicruous.

When we ready with the preparations, he excused himself for his
bad English and said that he was better in German. It took me some
self control to say "Aber sprechen Sie dann Deutsch bitte!".

(For the record, my command in German not as good as in French. But
this language I probably understand better than I speak.)

Erland Sommarskog, Stockholm,

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