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Linguistic adventures: Bus driver in Paris

In my Facebook, I used to tell little anecdotes from when I travel to a place where they speak a different language or dialect. Now that I have this blog, it seems like the perfect place to continue doing so.

This first one happened a couple days ago. I flew to Paris for a short stay, and went to get the bus for the city. I stepped in and greeted the driver:

Bonjour! C’est combien? [Good morning! How much is it?]

The man looked at me sternly and replied:

– /ʌ’lʊ:/ !

… what? Damn, he must have a thick accent. I think I heard “où?” there, he is probably asking where I’m going because it affects the price.

Paris-Nation, s’il vous plaît.
– /ʌ’lʊ:/ !

Fuck. What is going on here? I’m good enough at French to carry a long conversation but I was completely puzzled with this guy. He could tell I was lost too. He stood up from his seat and looked at me from behind his dark sunglasses. Then he asked:

– English?

Well, time to admit defeat. First sentence in France on this trip and I’m resorting to English. I will have to hand in my polyglot card and retire to a secluded monastery to atone for my sins.

– English, yes, ok…

He smiled openly and proclaimed:

– Well then, so? ‘ELLO!

Disclaimer: The Blind Mouse does not support mocking people for their accents; I do condemn, though, replying in a different language and insisting on doing so when the other person is clearly at a miss on what you’re trying to say.

Originally published in The blind mouse.

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