French Language

Topic has 21 replies.
Print Search Sort Posts:

Correcting french

I have been in France a week now, seen family and quite a lot of friends. I have seen a couple of english friends too and just loved speaking franglais, it is just so relaxing for all of us to speak franglais.

No one corrected my french until today, a friend of my sons whispered some grammatical correction to me and said the, in France we say` blah blah blah´ I cannot even remember what he said now, something far too much for me. Also it cut the conversation dead, absolutely dead.

I understand that most of us have to learn and in some way or other our french should get to a level that people can at least understand our french and in my case my accent too, but I have always found the correcting me and cutting into a perfectly decent conversation is awful. Maybe if we were sat quietly and sort of having a proper lesson it would be different, but when there is  a group having a chat or even putting the world to rights, I simply do not like it one little bit. 

Ofcourse this is not the first time it has happened to me. People who know me do not do it, it is usually their friends who do. 

It has its place but not in the middle of a conversation as far as I am concerned.

   Report   Reply Quote

Re: Correcting french

I gave up trying to speak correct French many years ago. Now if anyone corrects me I maintain very firmly that the so-called 'charm' of the language is like the state of many of the houses, unmodernised Big Smile [:D]with primitive jakes, and  that is hasn't evolved but been caught in a linguistic Disneyland.  I don't know if I really think that but attack is a good defence

The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible.
- Bertrand Russell
   Report   Reply Quote

Re: Correcting french

I understand that you're deeply offended, but you say that he whispered the correction to you ... might he have been impressed with the French you were saying and thinking that you might want a quiet correction to help your learning? Just a different point of view ..

In my experience, just trying to say anything, though, is encouraging even if you make mistakes. I've made huge clangers: asked if a jar of jam contained condoms (instead of additives), told someone I had a prostitute in my loft that I wanted to shoot (instead of a polecat), told a group of men that I was feeling horny (rather than hot) ... the list goes on.
If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we'd grab ours back
   Report   Reply Quote

Re: Correcting french

I was very politely corrected by an elderly woman I'd just met yesterday - it was the subjunctive and I knew it was vecu really, but after a broken night and a very busy day travelling my brain just didn't offer that word to me. She then asked if it was OK to have corrected me - and of course I said it was - I really didn't mind, and we were getting on so well.

However, I have a French neighbour who was also a good friend, who corrects my husband and me often, but in an unpleasant manner - and used to demand that we repeated after her! Having met the day we moved in 5 years ago, she has always been of the opinion that neither my husband or I can speak French - and she worried hugely from Switzerland when my husband was in hospital recently, as she was convinced that I wouldn't be able to cope with hospital matters! Of course, I had little problem with hospital bureucracy; I don't like to blow my own trumpet, but my French knowledge and accent aren't at all bad and I chat happily and often at length with many people I meet, such as the woman yesterday, who only speaks French. Incidentally, we very rarely correct our neighbour's English unless she asks us about particular words - she's not great at it, but tries hard and manages most of the time.

I think it depends how it's done that's important - and how often! A whisper in my ear wouldn't offend me at all.

Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it's about learning to dance in the rain.

   Report   Reply Quote

Re: Correcting french

LOL! If I had a quid for every time people have said to me (both English speakers learning French and people learning English) "The problem is, even if I ask people to correct me, they don't!" I'd be comfortably retired by now.

It's really a "damned if you do, damned if you don't" situation, and is peculiar to both the speaker and the listener as to how they react, which is what makes it a minefield.

Of course, there's a time and a place, but it's also very personality-driven. Some people have a gift and are able to correct you in a non-threatening way without making you feel as if you've just committed a cardinal sin or made a complete idiot of yourself, others make you feel like a naughty schoolkid who hasn't paid attention in class.

One of my very good friends in France, who is something of a grammar pedant (that's an observation, BTW, not a criticism) but also calls a spade a spade under any circumstances, pulled me up on something I'd said with the words "At last! it's not often you make a mistake but that's definitely a mistake!" (flattery delivered with a sledgehammer). The only witnesses were her family, we all laughed out loud, and although it killed that part of the conversation, it opened up a whole new discussion and lots of argument and anecdote, which is what eating with friends in France is all about.

Don't want to end up a cartoon in a cartoon graveyard.
   Report   Reply Quote

Re: Correcting french

I actively encourage correction although very few will do so, I have developed the art of reading their expressions and as soon as I see the signs I say "how should that be said?"

TBH I am very lucky if I am allowed to speak and even luckier if one just person actually listens to me, I am constantly interrupted, have my conversations finished for me, told that they know what I was going to say, or just completely ignored in a very obvious manner which brings back memories of my childhood when told "children are to be seen and not heard"

I think that it may considered rude amongst the French to correct though as my good friend who does (she was my teacher) will only do so one to one and never when others are present, although she will explain to them what I meant to say, I ask her and she says it doesnt matter, yet clearly it does when we are alone.

I have encountered a couple of guys that love to correct the English in a very public and humiliating way but they are just bullies through and through, the apologetic expressions of the others says it all. Doesnt sound like your person was one of them Idun.

For the last few months I have had several soirées, the only times that I have really enjoyed having guests in France as sadly those that dont want to let me speak or are incapable of listening are even worse in my house, I think that perhaps they get drunk before coming through fear of eating something alien, anyway these evenings are with 3 young teaching assistants (down to 2 now soon none at all), what is so refreshing is that when one of us speaks the others all listen actively, no interruptions other than to discuss whatever word is not understood which often turns out to have been wrong so its a group correction thing, these will be my fondest memories from France.

   Report   Reply Quote

Re: Correcting french

I think it's ok to be corrected if you're in just a one-on-one conversation, but it would, as idun says, be rude to the "correctee" and bring the conversation to a grinding halt if several people were chatting together.

   Report   Reply Quote

Re: Correcting french

Like Chancer I often ask for the correct way to say something, or some french vocabulary. But I don't think I've  ever been corrected. Possibly because I babble on very fast, probably making many mistakes, and they have a job keeping up and understanding me.
They quite often ask "quoi?"
Idun - as it was a young lad who corrected you he hadn't had the experience yet when to intervene and when not.

   Report   Reply Quote

Most Read

Enter our competitions

Win books, DVDs, travel and even holidays in France in our great competitions! Take a look at our latest competitions…

Enter now

Join us on social media

France magazine
Living France magazine
French Property News magazine