Like a lot of folks growing up in the states, I didn’t learn a practical second language that I could use on a day to day basis. Speaking with friends from Europe, its second nature to know three or more languages. For all intents, they can’t graduate without being able to speak a third language.
So way back in the day on our first trip to Paris, we picked up a little phrase that works great to break the ice, let the other person know you are trying, and will quickly get you to a common place with the other person.
Most, if not all international hotels speak English, so if you don’t want to use this phrase there, you really don’t have to. But I still do. Where it comes in handy is when you visit local restaurants, especially where the menu is entirely in french. For example, one time we went to Atelier Joël Robuchon Paris in Saint Germain…
After using one simple phrase, the waiter offered to read the entire menu to Mrs. Weekly Flyer in what was probably his second or third language, English.
The menu was entirely and French and neither Mrs. Weekly Flyer or I spoke a lick of French, except this simple phrase.
What To Say In Paris
We use this simple phrase to break the ice when we aren’t in a familiar place in Paris. To listen how it sounds when spoken, click here and then click “say it” if it doesn’t load automatically.
Je ne parl pas français, parlez vous anglais s’il vous plaît
The literal translation means:
I don’t speak French. Do you speak English please.
This won’t work everywhere, but every time I’ve used it, I get a common response…”but of course!”
Have you ever used this or another common phrase to bridge the gap in another language?
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