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ThermionicScott 08-03-21 08:30 PM


Originally Posted by GhostRider62 (Post 22165712)
Interesting observation on the French, Clasher. Lots of business trips to France and vacations confirms your take. The bureaucracy can swing both ways. If you seem really down and out and you are nice, they will more than likely go out of their way to help or bend the rules. If you are not nice, forgettaboutit.

I had a snafu with my bent. I somehow screwed up coming into a control and I was getting yelled at for going the wrong way or something. I stopped and looked at the yeller in chief and said, "Pardon, Je suis vieux...velo couche, J'ete dormi" and they all roared and helped me. During inspection, a non-french Inspector was busting my chops. The French Inspector co

I was enjoying this story, but it seems to have gotten cut off?

GhostRider62 08-04-21 05:16 AM


Originally Posted by ThermionicScott (Post 22170028)
I was enjoying this story, but it seems to have gotten cut off?

I wonder what I did wrong.

Basically. The French Inspector comes over and was more interested in my bike (he was also a velo couche rider) and I explained to him that the rules suggest one could put a chain ring guard on but it was clearly not obligatory and that I realize they were required in France for the HPV Worlds. I showed him my unusual crankset (Rotor RS4X) and that there was no way to mount one. He said but if you crash, the chain ring could hit somebody. I said that could also happen with an upright, too. A pause and some silence. He then gave that French shrug and I knew I was going to be good. So, I threw a joke in. Besides, this thing is so fast everyone just latches onto my rear wheel, there is nobody in front of me to hit my chain ring. He laughed and he also waved the other fellow away. He signed my paper. This was all in French, so, I could have misunderstood some of it but I think I got the gist of it. The truth is, you can't really ride in a fast pack as a recumbent, it is all solo.

Not quite the same but another story. My freewheel broke while touring and I could not fix it. With grease all over me, I went into a bar to ask where the nearest bike shop was. The bartender yelled and yelled at me for coming in so dirty. The patrons at the bar attacked him back....how dare you talk to a young visitor to our country, someone on a bike. An 80 year old slightly drunk man in a tweed jacket with one of those french hats, takes me by the arm and walks me and my touring rig to a bike shop. It is like the French somehow really care about the little guy and that is reflected in the "Bravo and Courage" that we hear into the wee hours. I think. I know it is no longer PC to say there are national characteristics. I used to see it all the time touring when doing the big famous climbs. They would never ever pass in a dangerous place and when they did pass, they would be cheering the same encouragement that we see on PBP

ThermionicScott 08-04-21 09:20 AM

Great stories, GhostRider62 . I'd like to be more fluent in my French for 2023... having my little sister along last time opened so many doors.

unterhausen 08-04-21 11:12 AM

I'm studying French right now. I was really unhappy with myself for not studying more before 2019. There is a plugin so you can get youtube and netflix captioning in French (and English simultaneously). I have been watching French movies on netflix with French captioning. I only recently learned they often don't say ne --- pas. In spoken french they only say "pas" and in formal written French they only write "ne"
OTOH, when I tried to mail something in 2011, I did understand "je ne comprende pas" But we finally worked it out.

OTOH, getting rid of my southern accent while speaking French has been a dismal failure.

The only problem I had at inspection was they all disapprovingly looked at the ends of my decaler bar, which I hadn't capped off. I look at it disapprovingly too. But they passed me.

ThermionicScott 08-04-21 12:15 PM

^ That's interesting! I think I'd been taught that the "ne" was usually elided into whatever was nearby, but I didn't know people omitted it entirely when speaking. I suppose there is some redundancy with "ne" and "pas".

https://www.commeunefrancaise.com/bl...-spoken-french

clasher 08-04-21 02:39 PM

I found that the French I learned in school is a lot more formal than the spoken French in France... and shamefully we learned very little Quebecois French in school.

unterhausen 08-04-21 03:12 PM

On netflix here they have a French series called "A very secret service" ("Au service de la France" in French). There is one episode where they make fun of the way some Quebec separatists talk. Of course, the Quebecois understand French perfectly well and are really mad about it. But now, when ever I hear Quebecois French it makes me laugh. OTOH, the CIA agent speaking French is a little uncomfortable. They really did a great job on both accents.

Apparently there is a course where the only thing they teach you is how to pronounce French. They would probably kick me out after the first week.

GhostRider62 08-04-21 03:44 PM

had hired a retired Princeton french professor years ago to teach me as I wanted to work in France. I went to her house twice per week and she made me read French stuff and write a essay. I would only chose le miroir du cyclisme, l'equipe or something on wine. If I was spending huge money on french journals and the effort to obtain them, I wanted to at least enjoy it. One day she lost it on me.....I should read more intellectual stuff. That I did not care about the mind. Only the body. So, she shifted to having me watch movies and that was really hard. The slang was impossible and there were no subtitles. When I applied for my Residency permit and work permit, I had to indicate my ability with the language. I asked her if I was a low intermediate. She nearly passed out.....she was so insulted and she pouted and really told me how she felt. I give her credit, she put her heart into it. She'd give me some French philosophy crap to read that I hated, we eventually compromised on newspapers and news magazines with limited sports stuff, food and wine. It has been 30+ years and I forget almost all of it. The funniest part, the French would tell me I speak like a Japanese but with a good accent....whatever that means but I heard it a lot.

What I found helps when approaching a french person is to be very polite (smile, Bon Jour Madame, etc) and first to apologize for butchering their language. I say it has been 30 or 40 years and I am old. Please excuse me. Lower your eyes a bit. Then, get into whatever it is. I think it is still expected to say Bon Jour Madame as one enters a patisserie to clean out the shelves. I had a french colleague who said I was not so rude for an American. LOL

unterhausen 08-04-21 04:38 PM

The person who ThermionicScott linked to above has a lot of practical lessons, which is great. I noticed that Duolingo has a few things they teach that are more like spoken French, but their emphasis is definitely on written French, spelling mostly. But there are entire lessons where they teach you to use on instead of nous.

One useful thing I learned is the contradictory "yes" -- si. If someone asks, "are you about to cut off your finger," you say "si, I'm carefully slicing this piece of ham.

ThermionicScott 08-05-21 09:44 AM


Originally Posted by GhostRider62 (Post 22171011)
What I found helps when approaching a french person is to be very polite (smile, Bon Jour Madame, etc) and first to apologize for butchering their language. I say it has been 30 or 40 years and I am old. Please excuse me. Lower your eyes a bit. Then, get into whatever it is. I think it is still expected to say Bon Jour Madame as one enters a patisserie to clean out the shelves. I had a french colleague who said I was not so rude for an American. LOL

I still shudder when I think about the couple of times in 2015 when I just went up to a counter and asked for something. So rude. :(

clasher 08-05-21 12:34 PM


Originally Posted by ThermionicScott (Post 22171902)
I still shudder when I think about the couple of times in 2015 when I just went up to a counter and asked for something. So rude. :(

I'd feel kinda rude doing that in an English speaking country :lol:

ThermionicScott 08-05-21 12:53 PM


Originally Posted by clasher (Post 22172169)
I'd feel kinda rude doing that in an English speaking country :lol:

Well, I can think of some situations where a really overloaded server might want a minimum of chit-chat, and my engineer-brain likes to get to the point when talking in person... and I could also try to blame my fatigue after completing PBP.

But none of these are great excuses for a big faux pas. All I can do is try to do better next time.

GhostRider62 08-05-21 02:37 PM

If you are going to clean out the entire pastry shop, a little Bon Jour won't hurt.

It is amazing how much pastry I can put away when hungry. Sure beats Lil Debbies


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