Oui

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File this under “Things I’m Learning About Myself by Living in Belgium”.

I use a lot of words.

No, not too many.  But a lot.

There is construction happening on my street.  Did they warn us that any of this was going to happen?  No.  Did they let us know that we weren’t going to be able to go left and would have to take a detour that adds an extra ten minutes to any trip that we need to take?  No.  Did they ring the doorbell at 6:45 one morning to tell us to move our cars?  Yes.

ANYway, there are often trucks/bulldozers/piles of rocks left in front of my driveway.  Not a big deal because we have taken to parking just across the street to avoid the problem.  One day I didn’t and that was the day I walked out to get into my car to go pick up the kids from school and found a truck parked in my way.  Uh oh.

So I looked up and down the street and saw someone wearing a shirt that had the same logo as the truck.  Then I had to form my plan of attack.  You see, I don’t speak French and obviously, he does.  Mentally I start racing through my “barnyard words”.  That’s the list of French words that I know due to the many times I’ve heard children’s board books being read to the kids by Ben.  You know, chien (dog), vache (cow), rouge (red), camion (truck)…..  Wait!  There it is!  Camion!

So I march on over to him and he looks at me and I use my best American tries to speak French accent and I say, “ça c’est ton camion?”

“Oui, madame.  Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, bouge, blah, blah, blah?”

Bouge!  I heard it!  Some form of the verb “move”!

Now, here is where my lesson about myself comes in.  If someone, in English, had asked, “Would you like me to move my truck?”  my answer would have been, “When you have a chance, if you wouldn’t mind, that would be great because I really need to pick up my kids from school”.  But in French I have to be as succinct as possible due to the whole only-knowing-words-that-an-eighteen-month-old-knows.  So my answer was?

“Oui.”

One syllable.  That’s all I could give him.  But it worked and my kids weren’t stranded at school.  So there’s that.

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7 thoughts on “Oui

  1. I imagine this is what I’ll be like when I move to Belgium this summer, although I do know a good bit of French, I will probably be clueless when people speak French to me!

    • At least now I finally understand why people who don’t speak much English always ask me to speak more slowly. S-l-o-w-e-r is b-e-t-t-e-r when you have to try to work out each and every word. Enjoy your summer in Belgium!

      • Yeah I find it’s way easier when people speak slowly, so much easier to understand ’cause the words tend to be more separated when people take their time speaking! Thank you!

  2. I can empathise completely, I moved to live in south west France just over 5 months ago. My french is very limited and improvement is slooow. So I find “Vous parler trops vite pour moi” a really useful phrase “Bon courage” mes amie!!

    • I will definitely have to steal that expression since that is often my problem. I’m sure I would at least get the gist of what they’re telling me if only the words didn’t run together so fast! And good luck to you down there in France. Brocante-ing is one of my most favorite things to do. Looks like you’ve got the good ones down there!

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