Other pages Noticeboard Site search. Share this article. In honour of "International Francophonie Day" on March 20th, here's a look at the 23 things you don't find out about the French language until you're actually living in France.
When it comes to learning French you really have to be in the country to do it because they are many many things they just don't teach you in school. You'll notice that French people, particularly younger people who dwell in the capital are always casually dropping English words into the middle of their sentences for seemingly no rhyme or reason other than it's trendy at the moment. One minute they'll be chattering away in their mother tongue and the next they'll be saying something's "un peu too much" a bit too much or something shocking might be described " completement what the fuck ".
Or another common habit is to use the expression "so Britiiiish" in English when describing something from across the Channel. In other words you've learned French and then you get over here and find that half their sentences are peppered with English. Admit it, were you ever left totally confused after listening to a conversation in French and hearing them use the word "si" instead of "oui"?
As you probably know the Spanish word for "yes" is "si" but the French also use it to say "yes" as well? It also means "if" in French just to add to the confusion. Basically it can be used to answer "yes" to a negative question " Vous n'allez pas au travail aujourd'hui? Perhaps the first word we are ever taught in French is Bonjour.
Perhaps the second word we are taught in French is "Au Revoir" which of course means goodbye, but you'll be surprised how little it is used in France.
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Most people says "Salut" when they are saying goodbye but among friends you'll soon get used to saying "bisous" which basically means "kisses". Oh and that word you learned in school: " Adieu " - You can pretty much forget about it. But have you ever heard a French person laugh like this in real life? No, nor have we. They laugh just as everyone else does… by laughing. As the guys at the Earful Tower point out, you'll need to stock up on your "bons" when you come to France. The French don't just communicate with words.
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The stereotype of the French being a nation of gesticulators is somewhat true. But it's not just that they love a good gesture it's that until you are in the country of shrugs and shoulders you don't realise that the French have their very own Gallic gestures for communicating.
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And they need deciphering see video below. The chances are that if you've spent any time in France you've heard the word 'putain' or "Puuuuuuutaaaaaaaaaaiiiiiiiiiin! But it's not one you'll learn at school. You probably learnt merde! For more on "Putain" read: An ode to the greatest French swear word.
Let's not even talk about the Quebecois, whom you'll likely need an interpreter for. You can live in Paris for years and speak fluent French, but be prepared to feel like a beginner when you venture into the far corners of France.
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It really shouldn't be surprising given that they have their own oanguage but when you hear for the ifirst time the French versions of certansounds, you'll be taken aback. Of course it also makes sense that the French have their own animal sounds. For example roosters don't say Cock-a-doodle-do, they say cocorico! This list from Fluentu has them all. Except you soon realise that no one actually says it in France and the same goes for Zut alors!
In fact it's not just the mythical swear words that the French don't actually use.
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