Comme tu dit “idiot?”
Reading French and speaking French are totally different.
It hasn’t been a week yet, so right now, I get excited when I recognize a word or two in a sentence. Unfortunately, I am totally unable to comprehend the words strung together in context as a cohesive thought.
Here’s an example of how I hear French as of my fourth day:
“Je suis desole (hey, I know that word–Sad!) dans l’hiver (hiver, hiver, it’s a season, I know it’s a season) par ce que tout le monde (world, all the world) est gris, il pleur et on peux prends (that’s takes, to take, conjugated) le parapluie (damn it’s on the tip of my tongue…it’s Umbrella!… or Cat!)
Now if they’d stop there, and maybe give me some time to put it all together, but noooooooooooooooooooon (that’s me doing John Belushi in French) they just rattle off a whole new string of words for me to try and process.
At the grocery store, when the girl at the butcher counter says something to me in French. I nod, smile and either say “merci” laugh and shake my head knowingly, or say “non”, depending on her tone and gestures. My nodding means, yes, I did understand a word or two of what you’re saying. The more words I know or recognize, the more I nod emphatically. And then I rush home to look up “dinde” to make sure that I’m having turkey for dinner and not some cute forest creature’s brains or something.
In the stores, they often wish me bon voyage at the end of a transaction which seems like a pretty good indication I’m not fooling anyone. I tell myself it’s because I haven’t perfected that subtle rolling back of the throat sound on the “r”s that always makes me feel foolish when I seem to be doing it right.
If they were to shake their heads and say “pauvre bete”. I’d be so thrilled that I understand both words, I wouldn’t know to be insulted.
Judging by the expressions on some people’s faces, I’m pretty sure I’ll live to miss these days of ignorance.