French Lessons 101

“He said that if culture is a house, then language was the key to the front door; to all the rooms inside. Without it, he said, you ended up wayward, without a proper home or a legitimate identity.” – And The Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini

It’s true. The only way you can really, truly, learn a language, is to live the life and speak with the natives, every single day. Even if only for a few weeks, you can learn a whole lot by picking up on the language and idiosyncracies, simultaneously immersing yourself in the culture. Here are some I’ve learned just within 5 weeks of living in France.

  • For one, I’ve noticed the variations of  “yes” in French – “ouais” or “ouah” or even “si” (a special kind of yes used to contradict a negation, so you’d say this when someone says no). If you’d like to blend in, try saying these, instead of the standard “oui”.
  • I’ve also noticed the prevalent use of “alors”. Once, our airbnb host spoke a record-breaking 20 alors (I counted) in a breath, when explaining to us how her apartment works. “Alors”, pronounced “ah-lorgh”, is basically a filler word. The closest equivalents to English would be “so”, “then”, or “well”.
  • Important: when enquiring of the price of something, here’s what you should say, “C’est combien?”, pronounced “say kom-bion”. Then learn your numbers well, because asking them is one thing, receiving a reply in a super fast jumble of a combination of French numbers, is another!

I’ll add more, when I can remember. Till the next French Lesson 101!

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