Brief French and Japanese encounters

For two days in a row, I had some exposure to languages I understand but don't hear much: French and Japanese. A lot of languages are represented in Chicago, but for some reason, I don't hear Japanese much, unless I go to Mitsuwa, and rarely hear French, unless I go to the Alliance Fran├žaise.

But yesterday, I was in a store and heard a couple behind me speaking Japanese, and it was so great to finally hear an Asian language I understand. At one point, the guy looked at a sign, read the English, then said in Japanese that he didn't understand what it said. I was tempted to say "I do" in Japanese and freak them out, but they probably wouldn't have processed it anyway and would've looked at me baffled.

Then today, I was walking down the street and heard a guy speaking to a woman in French. The guy sounded like a native speaker, and the woman sounded American, and she ended up being someone I haven't seen in a few years. Very weird. But unfortunate too, because my spoken French is lame. I told the guy in French that I can read it, and we exchanged some small talk, but I didn't attempt a real conversation.

I can't believe I finally had a chance to talk to a French person about whatever I wanted, and couldn't do it. I need to go to France to get that language in my head beyond the reading level :(


Jordan said...

The same thing happened to me a few years ago in Quebec. My wife and I went to McDonald's and I said 'Ok baby, I'll do all the talking.' I turned to the girl at the counter and said 'je vou...je...je voudrais un...une...je voudrais...I'll have a cheeseburger.'

Margaret Larkin said...

Weirdly, when I first lived in Japan, I wanted to use the bit of French I'd learned in school. I guess my brain was searching for something non-English.