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Saturday, June 15, 2013

More Silliness Speaking French

Another miserably failed attempt at speaking French the other night at our neighborhood Taiwanese restaurant.  Around 9 on a Friday evening, plenty of light still in the sky, we were sitting at a nice outside table and we'd ordered our entrees and received our wine.  Our waiter was a slight, middle-aged bumbler who seemed like he might be the husband, filling in for a waiter that called in sick.  He seemed nervous and confused.

When we'd ordered, we'd asked for a carafe d'eau (carafe of water), but there was no carafe when he brought the wine.  The next time we saw him, we asked again.  This time, he brought the carafe, but no glasses.  We thought this was kind of funny.

He clearly didn't speak any English, so, I summoned up some classic Rosetta Stone French - "Nous avons besoin de"  ('We have need of', or just 'We need'), but then neither of us could think of the word for glass.  So, I got the sentence all prepared in my head.  Next time he came by, I said "Nous avons besoin de 'glasses'", pronouncing the "glasses" with an exaggerated a-sound, like in cat or bat, and with a bit of a question mark on it to indicate I knew it wasn't the right word.  About ten minutes later, the waiter came by with no glasses for our water, but he did bring us a bowl with ice cubes in it.  We were a bit puzzled, but we thanked him.  By then, we'd remembered that "glass" is "verre", so we told him we needed glasses again, using the correct word this time.  As he walked away, our attention went back to the bowl of ice.  No other French restaurants had brought us a bowl of ice cubes.  We wondered why he would bring us this bowl.  Finally it dawned on us, when I said we need "glasses", he heard we need "glaces", i.e., ''ices."

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