Sunday, 2 October 2011


The other day, I was introduced by an English-speaking friend to a French couple that she knew. We chatted for a while and, at some point in the conversation, I must have mentioned something about Scotland. The French man looked at me a little quizzically.

"So, are both your parents Scottish, then?" he asked. "Tu es arrivée en France à quel âge?"

And he looked somewhat surprised when I told him that yes, both my parents are anglophone, and I first lived here at the ripe old age of 21.

It might not sound like much, but while people are often impressed by my written French, I don't really learn well by listening and find it hard to pick up an accent. The result is that I can see feminine plural agreements in my head even when they're not there in speech and conjugate written verbs better than many French people but have only recently learned to hear the difference between antérieur and intérieur and that the r at the end of Monsieur is not pronounced, ever. After 4 years of feeling like I'm screaming "I'm a foreigner" every time I open my mouth, being able to surprise someone with my 100% non-French origins and upbringing felt like a major milestone!


  1. Wow congratulations, huge deal! I have surprised people mid-conversation by not being French, but only when my part up to then consisted of nodding and saying "oui". I was actually quite hurt yesterday when I agreed to do a survey on the street and after the first question the lady (nicely) said "oh, you're not French? That's okay, don't worry about it". Rejected :( Then her colleague stopped me on the way back and I had to explain they didn't want me anyway!