Tonight during my weekly French Skype conversation with Philippe, I said that if I did come to Paris this January, I would probably want to take a side trip to Alsace. He kept asking me to repeat myself because he had no idea what I meant. I said over and over again, “Alsace. Alsace. Alsace.” Finally he exclaimed, “Oh, Alsace!” I asked, “Isn’t that what I said?” Apparently the s in Alsace should be pronounced more like a z.
Immediately after my call, I headed to the laundromat to pick up my wash. I told Millie, the Latina woman who works there, that I was thinking about taking a Spanish class this spring and that if I did I’d start talking to her only in Spanish. Forgetting all about actual conjugation, I added, “Tratar,” which means, “to try,” though I intended to tell her, “I’ll try.” Millie kept asking me to repeat myself. I said over and over again, “Tratar. Tratar. Tratar.” Finally she exclaimed, “Oh, tratar!”
So there you have it. I can learn all the French and Spanish in the world but people are still going to have no idea what I am saying because my ear and my accent are so terrible.
Merde! (Another word I cannot pronounce correctly.)
(Photo: Colin Mutchler)