You'd think that after 10 years in a country where you are considered to master the language, you'd get it right...but no. After 10 years in
- military time : if I make an appointment for "14 heures", the mental process goes something like this. 14 o'clock equals 2 o'clock equals a number with a 4 in it. So my appointment is at...2 or 4? Damn
- G or J : In French, the pronunciation is the opposite of in English. Luckily my maiden name begins with a G so I have that one down, although each time I have to spell something with a G I have to first spell out my name in my head. But for the J, which is the beginning of both of my husband's names, I still get confused so I generally avoid spelling or giving his name.
- times of the day: It seems that the French are famous for giving inexact times for appointments, for a return phone call, etc like fin d'après-midi (late afternoon) or debut de soirée (early evening). For me, the day breaks down to morning which lasts till around noon, mid-day which is till 2pm, afternoon till 5pm and evening which is anytime thereafter. But for the French ,you have to add on about 2 hours to all those times. so late afternoon is actually 6pm, the time I'm winding down. Midday is the only one I've mastered, since everything shuts from 12-2, even in a "large" city like
- u vs ou : this one's a real problem when you are trying to say words like coup (hit) and it comes out cul (ass). I think I've just resigned myself to never being able to say it right.
- poudre à lever vs bicarbonate de soude : I cook a lot. But I still cannot get the difference right in my head. Every time I bake, I take out both powders and have to visualize the orange arm and hammer baking soda box in my head before I can choose the right one. So when I found some arm and hammer at my local Chinese store, I was so excited. This will avoid much confusion in the future.
- Ca va: when a neighbor asks you "ca va?" in passing, the correct response is "ca va bien et vous?". No, they don't really care how you are. You should not answer "oui". Each time it comes out of my mouth, and I feel like the person is looking at me like I have purple horns on my head, I berate myself. And yet, the next time someone asks me that loaded question, I say the same thing.
- vous vs tu : I still don't get it, like at work. I generally just avoid calling people anything at all.