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The Language

Practical French

The French like everyone else have lots of non-verbal communication, like the raised fore and middle finger in a V, which means two entirely different things to an American and a British person, some gestures are similar to Anglo-Saxon gestures, some are not.  Here are a few to watch for:

Wiping the brow with one hand means “that’s enough” or “I can’t take it anymore.”

Turning your palm upwards and touching your thumb to your fingers means “Say what? or What are you talking about!”

Making a fist around your nose and turning it from side to side means “drunk” or “tipsy.”

Loosely grabbing your throat with your thumb and forefinger means “unbelievable” or “yeah right.”

A classic Gallic Shrug is a shrug of your shoulders, while you throw up your hands palms out and raise your eyebrows. t normally means “Yes, but what does it matter or so what!”

Bof – more a sound than a gesture, but it means “I could care less”

Tapping the side of your nose with your index finger usually means that one is clever/smart.

Holding out your hands and rubbing your thumb across your fingers means the same as it does in English. It means something is expensive.

Making a fist with one hand and slapping the top of it with the other hand is a rude gesture.

Phrase basics

Yes Oui (WE)
No Non (NOH)
Good morning/hello Bonjour (BOHN-joohr)
Good evening Bonsoir (BOHN-suwr)
Goodbye Au revoir (OH-revowr)
Please S’il vous plait (SEEL vew PLAY)
Thank you Merci (Mayhr-SEE)
Sorry Désolé (DEH-soh-LAY)
Excuse me Pardon (PAH-dahn)
Right Droite (dwaht)
Left Gauche (goshe)
I do not understand Je ne comprends pas. (ZJUH nuh COHM-prahn PAS)
I do not speak French Je ne parle pas français. (ZJUH nuh pahrle PAS fransay)
Do you speak English Parlez-vous anglais? (PAHR-lay vew zon-GLAY)
Sir/Mr. Monsieur (mohn-SYUH)
Madam/Mrs or Ms Madame (MUH-dahm)
Miss Mademoiselle (MAH-duh-mwuh-ZELL)
Breakfast Petit déjeuner (PEHtee DAY junay)
Lunch Déjeuner (DAY junay)
Dinner Dîner (DEE nay)
Coffee Un café (un CAFAY)
Wine Du vin (doo VAHN)
Water De l’eau (duh L’OOH)
Mineral water – still L’eau plate (loh plat)
Mineral water – fizzy L’eau gazeuse (loh gazz-oez)
The bill, please L’addition, s’il vous plait (l’AH dee TION, SEE vew PLAY)
The bathrooms/toilets Les toilettes? (lay TWAH lett)
How much Combien (COM-bee-ENN)

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