MB has a Yankee friend called JL from Connecticut. MB remembers JL telling him a story many years back about a 6-month French language course that JL had attended. Now JL has many gifts, but the gift of languages is not one of them. And never will be. The end of the course arrived and JL could only mutter one single phrase en Francais; which was:
“Marie, où est la bibliothèque?”
After 6 months – that was the sum total of JL’s French!!!
Anyway, a few weeks back, MB found himself in Nyon, a small French-speaking town some 15 minutes train-journey from Geneva. MB had heard that there was a castle on the outskirts of the town, on the lake edge, that was worth a visit and a few camera shots.
“Parlez vous Anglais?” said MB to a couple of shop assistants, a few minutes after disembarking from le train.
“Mais oui Monsieur” replied les deux Francais.
And just at that precise moment, all of MB’s school French came flooding back to him. Like un tres grande linguistic sunami, en Francais.
“où est le chateaux?” said MB, casually, to les deux Francais, who looked quizzically at l’Irelandais, wondering if this guy before their eyes wasn’t some kind of major p**s taker. He had just asked them if they spoke English and had then addressed them in perfect Francais. ‘Quell assh**e’ they were thinking for sure, thought MB.
“à droite Monsieur” – instructed les deux Francois.
“Merci beaucoup, merci beaucoup, au revoir” replied MB in accent-perfect Francais.
“Un plaisir (assh**e)” replied les deux Francais.
MB turned right just down the street as instructed. What satisfaction did MB not feel on seeing le beau chateaux before his eyes, a mere 100m in the distance. All as a result of MB’s tres bon multilingual skill-set!