Tuesday, March 25, 2008

My French Faux Pas

Some of the best stories we need to record are the ones that make fun of ourselves.

A few years ago, my husband Lynn and I traveled up to Canada in our motorhome. We planned to visit the areas of Montreal and Quebec, where our respective ancestors lived. We found the Canadians very friendly and accommodating, but as we got further east of Quebec City, we discovered that fewer and fewer of them spoke any English. However, I was not worried because I had three semesters of college French and two years of high school Spanish under my belt. What I was not prepared for was how my rusty memory mis-translated phrases into French.

After a guided tour of a small winery, we wanted to venture into French-speaking Canada on our own, so we asked for suggestions to a restaurant for lunch that was frequented by “locals” rather than by tourists. We were directed to a charming restaurant off the beaten track that was reminiscent of a French chateau.

Our waitress spoke no English, but how difficult could it be to order a simple lunch? In response to her request for our beverage order, I made my first faux pas by ordering “leche” (milk) for Lynn and “the chaud avec limon” (hot tea with lemon) for myself. The poor young girl was obviously confused by my order, so I pulled out my trusty French-English dictionary. It turns out that I should have used “lait” for milk instead of the Spanish “leche” and although lemonade translates to “limonade”, lemon by itself actually translates to “citron.” So much for trying out my linguistic abilities.

No comments: