Thursday, October 21, 2010

Road Trip

So we got off to a rough start. That's cool. We girls know how to carry on smiling.

We left three hours later than planned so that meant we arrived in Geneva at midnight. I'm a Texas girl so a little night time driving doesn't bother me. What was freaky though was driving through the French Alps in the dark. I couldn't see the mountains but I knew they were there, looming; our ears popped, the signs warned of steep grades, and there were slow climbing lanes. There were also long tunnels cut into the invisible mountains which the girlie loved. As we passed through one of the longer ones--1900 metres, distance of tunnels is marked just outside the entrance, we decided we were glad to be in that super cool, lit up tunnel inside the mountain together. Ma Fille vowed she'd never forget it as long as she lives.

We ate McDo in the car and I have to admit it was one of the best Royal Cheese I've ever had. We stopped for hot chocolate and biscuits and were excited by the chill in the mountain air.

And we talked and sang and did French homework.
If you've ever been to France, especially Paris, and have tried to speak French to someone, you know how they repeat what you've said, only with a French accent as if to say...'um, so sorry, I think I've understood your butchering of my language but I need to make sure by repeating exactly what you said back to you in my langue maternelle'.
It goes like this:
Brave Tourist: 'Hello. I'd like a hot chocolate please.'
Paris Frenchie: 'Hello.What would you like? A hot chocolate?'
Brave Tourist going back for more: 'Yes, please. A hot chocolate. And a croissant too, please.'
Paris Frenchie: 'A hot chocolate and a croissant? Ok.' (smirk)

I always found this type of exchange off putting. It would totally throw me off my game. But then I started to think, perhaps they're just repeating it to be sure of what I'm saying. Maybe they're just helping me to get the pronunciation right. So it's like a mini-lesson. How nice. I'm a benefit of the doubt kinda girl.

But NOW, my own daughter does it to me. Her accent is flawless. Of course it would be because she's learning how to do it in French school and she has a sponge brain with no life lessons learned/college shenanigans/late nights/wine drinking neuron damage to slow her down. So when we practiced for her spelling test in the car and I said 'un coude', perfectly in my opinion, she repeated it with French gusto, 'un coude?'. With the up lilt question mark thing as if she wanted to be sure I was saying elbow even though she knew full well it's on her list.

No more benefit of the doubt. Listen up. When they do that to you at the train station, boulangerie, cafe, what they're really doing is showing off. What they're really saying is, 'this is the correct way to say it, this is how you're supposed to get the r stuck in the back of your throat and it offends me to leave the sound of your mispronunciation lingering in the air so I have to quickly replace it with my perfect one.' Don't give up. Keep saying it the way you feel is right. After all, when they speak English we find their accents charming, sexy, foreign. We can't all be lucky enough to learn two languages in childhood. And I will remind all mes enfants of this fact when they are older and hate me.

For a little sumpin' speshal, we replaced Nancy with a fake GW Bush. So as we (finally) drove north to Suisse he guided us there. As we were running late, had been sidetracked and taken a detour we were reliant on GW to get us back on track. 'Hang a left in a coupla secs.' Ma Fille asked, 'Do you think he was a good president?' Uhm. 'Imagine how he would sound speaking French with that accent?!' We had some laughs trying it out ourselves. She'd say, 'Come on 43rd....tell us which way to go!'. To which he'd reply, 'Upa head, there's gonna be a ex-it. Leave the motorway and hang a right.'

She fell asleep at 11pm. She missed Swiss border control, the last of the tunnels and her mommy singing loud to70s music on the radio. And when we arrived at midnight and I tried to wake her she started counting in French in her startled sleep. Beautifully.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful memory this will be for you and your daughter to share.

    And I understand the repeating it back to you thing, but I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that they are doing it for clarity (even though deep deep down, I know they are mocking us!) x


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