How Speaking French Can Make Your English Confusing

Congratulations! You've done an excellent job of learning to speak French. Life in France is so much easier now that you can clearly communicate in the national language. It probably never occurred to you, though, that mastering one language would mean you'd have to sharpen up your English skills.

You've learned the proper way to pronounce all those French words that the English language has adopted. You even speak them with a proper French accent. However, your English friends may wonder why you're being so pretentious. When speaking of Paris, you call the city “Paree”. You tell them about a lovely weekend you spent on “Bretagne” (Brittany) and a fabulous 'restaurant' (spoken like a true native of France) where you had dinner and they have no idea what you're saying.

You were raised to say thank you when you were a child. That hasn't changed but now, it often comes out as 'merci' even when speaking English. When asked about your sporting activities, now you use French word order and reply, “I play sometimes basketball.” Your American friends may smile but perhaps try to remember if your English had always sounded so strange.

It's a good idea to try to keep French words and intonation to a minimum when speaking English, although you probably no longer hear just how 'French' you sound. People 'back home' will start asking why you sound so funny and will be confused when you ask if they'd like to 'meet for an apéro'. You'll find yourself acting as your own translator when you're chatting with old friends and family members.

Your mind has been steadily filling up with so many French words that you will sometimes find yourself unable to find the English word you need in a conversation. You just can't remember it, no matter how hard you try. Your mother might see this as amusing the first couple of times but just won't understand how you could forget your first language so easily.

When someone from France makes a statement and wants to see if you agree with them, it's very popular for them to end the sentence with the word 'non'. When you use this little trick in English, it doesn't sound quite right. 'This city is very beautiful, no?' Either it is or it isn't. If you've started adding 'no' at the end of your sentences in English, don't be surprised if your friends begin to wonder why you're contradicting yourself, and respond with an emphatic, 'Yes it is!'

If you feel like you've developed a second personality, a French personality, that's a good thing. It says you're adapting well to French culture, you even understand French jokes and the French lifestyle. It just might be a little complicated when your English personality doesn't want to wake up from its sleep mode.

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