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Basic french conversation handguide for first timers...

New Delhi, India
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Basic french conversation handguide for first timers...

Hello everyone,

As the subject says, that's what I'm looking up for. I do understand that they do speak English but a sentence in French can come handy as an "Ice Breaker" and help one get better response.

I know that there are few online language translators available but the outcome isn't always reliable. So why not have a handguide that one can actually keep handy to make their first stay a memorable one (in a good way thou).

Would you please help in contributing to the correct translation to the following?

1. How to reach "INSERT Tourist destination name"?

2. How much? (for paying at bakeries, or local vendors)

3. Do you speak English?

4. How are you?

These are the very few that come across my mind but i'm sure that there are few other words/sentences that one must get him/herself equipped with for a wonderful Paris experience.

Feel free to add more with the translation.

Thanks

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Saratoga Springs, NY
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1. Re: Basic french conversation handguide for first timers...

I personally wouldn't ask most of those questions in French unless you were sure you'd understand the answers in French.

Perhaps it's better to simply stick with "Hello" (Bonjour) and "do you speak English" (Parlez-vous anglais? - sounds like par lay vooz ahng lays)

The key ice breaker is to always, always say "bonjour" (or bonsoir, after about 5pm) to someone before beginning your interaction. The French think it's very rude to just start talking to someone without properly greeting them.

Edited: 02 June 2013, 14:52
Paris, France
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2. Re: Basic french conversation handguide for first timers...

I agree with everything Tracie says. Many years ago I was a "victim" of this practice. So unless you are going to understand the answer there's really no reason to learn how to ask.

Louisville, Kentucky
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3. Re: Basic french conversation handguide for first timers...

I find translator apps are helpful. Besides the good info provided here, you can speak through the app to someone with whom you don't share a language. I really haven't had to use it often, however. When you show the courtesy descrbed here, helpful people who speak your language "emerge." Otherwise, you don't get much attention.

Saratoga Springs, NY
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4. Re: Basic french conversation handguide for first timers...

If you want to learn some more helpful phrases, I would suggest learning some requests instead of questions.

Something like this might help: http://www.amazon.com/Lonely-Planet-French-Phrasebook-Lonely_Planet/dp/1742208118/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1370186304&sr=8-1&keywords=french+phrase+book

Phrases like:

I would like a table for two / Je voudrais une table pour deux

Two tickets, please / deux billets, s'il-vous plait

I would like this / je voudrais ca (can use this while pointing at a pastry or an item on the menu)

thank you / merci

Often times they will hear your English accent and start speaking in English to you. And don't forget to start the conversation with Bonjour! "Bonjour. Deux billets, s'il vous plait"

Le Bugue, France
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5. Re: Basic french conversation handguide for first timers...

Unless you know how to pronounce the language, seeing phrases written isn't really going to be helpful at all.

I would suggest you get online to the BBC or other audio language sites and start learning how to use basic French and figure out the pronunciation.

UK
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6. Re: Basic french conversation handguide for first timers...

The most important thing to do is to greet every person you deal with (for purchasing tickets, or asking a question) with 'bonjour!' You also do this when entering a shop or bakery. You might have them tuned out, especially if it's crowded, but if you are alert you will notice that most likely someone has looked up when you entered the shop, and has said bonjour to you. Say it back to them! It is basic courtesy in France. They will be far more receptive to your halting French, or your English, if you show this courtesy. If you're in a very touristy area, they'll not be surprised if you speak English but it's polite to ask first.

Lisbon, Portugal
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7. Re: Basic french conversation handguide for first timers...

Learn French? It's a beautiful language...

Be polite. Bonjour, bonsoir, merci, s'il vous plaît, au revoir, à bientôt, etc., are obligatory. You may want to add Madame/Monsieur when greeting, it's more courteous.

Requesting the price of something: Combien ça coûte ? / Ça fait combien ?

Requesting the bill at the restaurante/café: L'addition, s'il vous plâit.

How are you?: Ça va / Comment ça va (informal) / Comment allez-vous ? (formal)

How do I get to...?: Comment j'arrive à [insert place name] en metro, à pied [transportation mean] ?

Some young people will turn to English even if you attempt to speak French.

Lisbon, Portugal
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8. Re: Basic french conversation handguide for first timers...

BTW: Do not say, for instance, "I want a slice of this/that cake" (Je veux...). You should rather you I would like. Then:

"Bonjour madame/monsieur ! Je voudrais/souhaiterais une part de ce gâteau ici/là-bas, s'il vous plaît".

Edited: 02 June 2013, 20:42
Paris, France
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for Paris
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9. Re: Basic french conversation handguide for first timers...

Communicating usefully in a language requires a lot of study. You cannot do it with a phrasebook or automatic translator.

Learning set phrases is useless, since the answer will be in French, and you do not speak French.

It is best to learn a few greetings in order to demonstrate courtesy towards others, but it is understood that this is not actually speaking French, and the locals will appreciate the gesture but will not attempt to continue the conversation in French. The only phrases that can be of any practical use are those that make it clear that you don't speak French, such as "je ne parle pas français." When asking if someone speaks English, ask the question in English, unless you are sure that you'll understand a response in French (which may not be limited to "oui" or "non").

Bellflower...
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10. Re: Basic french conversation handguide for first timers...

Be sure to add Monsieur or Madame, whichever applies, to the Bonjour/Bonsoir.

MrsJAS