Posts Tagged ‘public’

Décâlisse, tabarnak!

Décâlisse, tabarnak!

I witnessed an argument over an iPhone in a public place in Montréal yesterday where some colourful language was used…

A man in his 30s walked past a table where a man in his 60s was sitting. The older man was looking at his iPhone.

The younger man stopped about three metres away from the table where the older man was sitting and began to observe him intently. The older man didn’t like this, and he asked the younger man what exactly he was looking at.

That’s when the younger man explained that he had lost his iPhone in the area, and wanted to know if the iPhone the older man was using was really his own.

The older man got angry at the suggestion that he was using a lost or stolen phone. He then swore at the younger man telling him to get lost:

Go the fuck away!

The younger man asked if he could see the phone, and the older man swore at him again:

Décâlisse, tabarnak!
Go the fuck away, goddammit!

The younger man kept looking at the phone from where he was standing. He seemed pretty convinced that it might be his. He then challenged the older man by saying:

Tu viens avec moi. Tu veux parler fort? On va parler fort dehors.
You come with me. You wanna shout? We can go shout outside.

The older man just told the younger man where to go again:


The younger man then moved about seven metres away from the older man, wondering what he should do. After about a minute, he finally walked right up to the older man to take a really good look at the phone. After he looked, he backed off and said:

OK, c’est pas le mien. Tu vois? C’est pas compliqué. Je m’excuse.
OK, it’s not mine. You see? It’s not complicated. I’m sorry.

I don’t know who’s more to blame in this altercation!

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I have a friend who used to have trouble with French in public places, like in restaurants and shops. People had trouble understanding him when he spoke.

He was frustrated and disappointed by this. He would often ask me afterwards if the way he had said things was correct.

And you know what?

He usually said things close enough to perfect that it shouldn’t have presented an obstacle to communication.

What was going on then? If his French was good, why would people have trouble understanding what he said?

The problem wasn’t his French.

When he started to learn French, he was understandably shy about using it in public at first.

He would speak too softly. It was hard to hear him in public places.

That was the only problem.

But it was a problem that stuck with him long after his beginnings in French. He had become convinced that speaking French in public would always be a struggle, so he continued to be shy about it.

In private with his francophone friends, he had no problem rambling away in French!

When he started using a louder voice, his problems went away. He became confident about speaking French in public.

If you’re struggling with using your French in public, ask yourself a simple question before you assume that your French is bad:

Am I speaking loudly enough?

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