Tuesday, February 7, 2012

French is all Greek to Me

I never learned a foreign language. I wasn’t required to in high school or college. I did learn quite a bit of American sign language one summer with a girlfriend who had a deaf cousin. I have decided that I’m going to learn some French before a trip to Europe this spring.

I know I don’t really need to. Everyone speaks English, even the English..well sort of. I know I can download a hundred iPhone apps that will say phrases for me in any language. I’ll tell you why I really want to learn some conversational French.

On trips to Montreal I can almost understand, if not the words, the meaning of the conversations. It is like listening to the radio with the volume just low enough that you can’t quite make out the words. I can tell if the speakers are happy or sad, excited or reserved, serious or playful, speaking to me or about me, almost.

Almost understand, almost know, almost good enough.

So what is the foreign language in your business? What do you almost know? Almost understand? Almost grasp, and is it enough, or do you need to get the Rosetta Stone for your “language”?

Learn the language, get a translator, or don’t complain when they bring you snails for breakfast.

1 comment:

  1. I applaud you for studying French! Culture and language are inseparable. To do business abroad we need to understand the cultural context. To really understand how someone from another culture thinks and feels,it's crucial to speak at least a little of his or her language (even if he or she speaks great English). And for us in New York, French is especially important as French-speaking Quebec is a critical trading partner and job-creator.