Seeing as in my last (written) post I discussed the pitfalls of clearly being English whilst living in France, I thought that now I should turn my attention to what one should do if one truly wishes to fake it as a vrai(e) Français(e) (please note how I have included both genders, très gentil yes). Equally please note that I’m not sure how successful the following methods are, as I meet with varied levels of success on a day-to-day basis. The thing that terrifies me is that I don’t know if I’ll ever be fluent in French, because how can you quantify communication or the use of a language? But I’ll try not to let that worry me too much. For now, I shall continue to do the following:
1. Change Facebook to French.
2. Same goes for Skype.
3. Purchase a French cookbook, struggle laboriously to understand the list of ingredients and then equally to find them in the ridiculously huge supermarket, thus forcing you to give up and just make a stir fry instead, because it sort of looks like the picture of the meal anyway. Sort of.
4. Pass a French person on the street/in the school corridor/where you live/anywhere in particular and in engage in the French equivalent of what is known in the North as ‘Y’alreyt? Y’alreyt?’. Known on this side of the channel as ‘Ca va? Oui ca va et toi? Oui ca vaaaa’. So easy yet it makes you feel like a boss if you do it in public. Or at least it sort of makes you look French, which is the ultimate goal of course. Ensure that you do the exchange in a French, nonchalant manner.
5. Pretend to be French to a French person on a plane. Or anywhere, for that matter. I somehow managed to pull this off recently despite the fact that my French neighbour heard me speaking English in an impeccable Northern accent to the air hostess, as when he asked me in English if his friend could go to the bathroom I replied ‘ouiii bien sur!’ thus leading him for some reason to assume that I was French, and not in fact a clearly English girl just pretending. Badly.
6. Add or be added by a French person on Facebook/Skype/any other thing in this genre. Even if you never talk to them, it seems pretty impressive to have befriended them all the same.
7. Add ‘quoi’ on the end of every single sentence you speak. I have assumed (correct me if I’m wrong) that this is the French equivalent of ‘like’, which I, like, use, like, all the time. Like. Sorry, quoi.
8. Il en va de même pour ‘du coup’. Before coming to France I thought everyone used ‘donc’ and ‘alors’ in conversation. Although I wasn’t completely and horrifically wrong, it does seem that most of the people I’ve conversed with tend to use ‘du coup’, which is apparently too informal to use in essays but still useful enough to be chucked around as often as ‘quoi’.
9. Though technically speaking this one won’t qualify as pretending to being actually French, as for me it often involves letting the cat out of the bag that I am in fact English and spending my year abroad en France, it is very important to talk to everyone, even people you would usually flee from or at least avert eye contact. I mean, obviously avoid dangerous people, but as for Jehovah’s Witnesses (always friendly, even more so when you accidentally tell them in French that you’re one too), salespeople, shop assistants, random strangers who don’t have a creepy glint in their eyes, and so on and so forth.
10. Finally, do not write about or discuss ways of pretending to be French. Sort of gives the game away. Oops. Peu importe, I am English after all, and I can at least be content with the fact that my French and indeed my confidence appears to improved quite a bit this year. Merci la France.