In my last job, I worked with a translator who was very pleasant and attractive, and who managed to get on very well with we inbred-Derby-pondlife even though she was elegant, sophisticated, and French.
She spoke English and Spanish perfectly, without any hint of French accent. In fact, she’d spent quite a few years working in central Birmingham before moving near to us and could fake a fabulous Brummie accent. There is something about a sophisticated French woman saying “I went to see me mum on the bus, innit? It was Luvvleeeee!” that I still find funny.
Her French accent returned occasionally, though. It returned when she was tired … or when she wanted something.
Having spent nearly ten years in the UK, she had long ago discovered that a good way of manipulating English men involved an outfit with low cleavage, and re-adding the French accent she had spent so much time losing.
This is, of course, because of the lasting influence of ‘Allo ‘Allo when watched in one’s formative years. Truly, British sitcoms have much to answer for.
Working with a foreigner can be a real eye-opener, because you can start to compare notes about racial-stereotyping. She swears blind she has never worn a string of onions, owns no stripey tops, and only one beret.
Interesting point number one: most French people find Jacques Chirac acutely embarrassing. Like a French version of Prince Phillip.
Interesting point number two: the French do not understand our love of broken biscuits, and consider the concept hilarious. Bought from the milkman, of all people!
Interesting point number three: an English idiot trying to speak French with a strong English accent is as sexy to the French as a French-person trying to speak English is to us.
Yes, you read that right! If you’re interested in a member of the opposite sex (or even the same sex – live and let live) who happens to be French, you are more likely to get lucky if you keep the English accent! Multilingual international jetsetters are so twentieth century! James Bond is out – Officer Crabtree is in.
So, écoutez et répétez in your finest Brummie/London/Yorkshire/any-other-unattractive-regional dialect:
“VOOLAY VOO KOOSHAY AVEK MWAAAAA?”
You’ll thank me later.