Thursday, 13 June 2024

Scusi amigo, parles-tu French? Nein!

Written by  Dec 20, 2015

Half dead like a half-zombie, sleepy like Snow White and with my ear-phones in my ears, my brain in “flight mode” I made my way to work. But shortly before I managed to turn off all of my brain activities, a guy with a bag and a map of Dubrovnik came to me and asked me a question. My first reaction was very informative and constructive: Eh? What?! Oh yes, I still had my ear-phones in my ears and Till Lindeman was about to mention the sentence “Du hast” for the 128th time in the song of the same title. I pulled out my ear-phones and was able to hear the guy who apparently was a tourist. First, I thought that I didn’t hear the commonly used “Excuse me, could you tell me” – part. No wonder, there wasn't any “Excuse me part” there was just a roughly asked question: “This!?” Yes, the word “This” can be very well used as a very useful interrogative question. I have to mention that his English was broken like a Scandinavian Glacier.

My English isn’t in such devastated condition, just somewhere halfway between Chernobyl and Fukushima. The guy was not alone. Besides the fact that he was very grumpy, very sleepy, brain-dead and without a plan, his nationality and my name were connected to each other. He was Italian. My name means “brown” in Italian and his nationality means: “I don't speak any English only Italian, chiaro?!” He showed me the location of the Tommy market in Gruž and at that point I knew that I had to tell him or show him the brutal truth. He and his friends would have to hike the whole way back from where they had come from because we were in Lapad near the football ground. No thank you, no grazie, no grazie mille, nothing. He just turned to his friends, looked expressionless like Kirsten Stewart and scratched his head with his fingers. How many times in a minute he repeated “Merda” or “Cazzo” after I left him I don't know but I think it was enough for a lifetime of a Galapagos giant turtle! The point of the story is the fact that Italian tourists usually don't speak English.

The French are able to speak it but they won't. A couple from France asked me once without any introduction:  “Vous-êtes d’ici?” (Are you from here?) ‘cause “tout le monde” speaks French. So if you just say two words in French they continue to speak with you like with a native speaker. I made the mistake so many times and said “Oui”. Dare to make a grammatical mistake while you’re speaking French and Robespierre will cut your head off with a guillotine! They will correct you immediately because your French must be perfect, sorry, not perfect - PARFAIT s’il vous plaît! In opposed to that, if a German tourist asks you something and you speak some German he ignores that and continues to speak English. They don’t force German but I think that is because of history.

Last time when the Germans forced German somewhere abroad the things went “a little bit in the wrong direction”. I must admit that I learned the easiest and best option for the people from Spanish-speaking countries. If they ask me something I just say: Yo no hablo español! Ear-phones - in, Till Lindemann - back, brain - good-bye! Amen!

Bruno Lucic 

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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