Vacationing in Paris these past couple of weeks,it has been gratifying to note that the notoriously parochial French are now rather amenable to speaking in English to the hordes of tourists who swarm their city. Perhaps it has dawned upon them that in the midst of this economic downturn,it is wiser to speak lingua franca rather than alienate linguistically challenged but liberally spending foreigners.
Make no mistake the infamously obnoxious Parisian waiters can still be quite snotty as their 15 per cent tip is already built into the bill and they dont really need to please customers to earn their gratuity. But across the board in taxis,cafes,brasseries,boutiques and museums,the locals are willing to reply to a tourists hesitant,Parlez vous Anglais? with a nod and perhaps even a smile. It has been a great regret I never learnt to speak French fluently but I am always entertained by the Indian chatteratti who mispronounce everyday English words by adopting a fake French accent while nattering on the local cocktail circuit.
Here is a ready reckoner of the most mispronounced words overheard in our social circles:
EPITOME: It amazes me how many members of the beau monde brazenly enunciate this word as if it were an epic tome. Its pronounced i-pit-uh-mee. Given that most of our glitterati are obsessed with themselves,it is all the more ironic that the me is silent in their flagrant mispronunciation of this word.
DUPLEX: Most social snobs I encounter insist on pronouncing this word as dew- play,thinking it is a French word that rhymes with Camembert soufflé. Do they also watch films at a multiplay or rather go to a multiplex? Its pronounced dew-plex and if you aspire to live in one,then at least learn to pronounce it correctly. Touché?
CHUTZPAH: Another favourite word employed with impunity by our social climbers and enunciated with the sheer audacity of the truly ignorant! Its a Yiddish word meaning unbelievable gall or insolence and its pronounced hoot-spuh and not like some local slang.
MOET ET CHANDON: The champagne set who so like to snigger at those less fortunate do not realise the joke is on them when they go about quaffing bottles of bubbly and ask for their favourite Mo-yay e Chandon. They openly make fun of some poor waiter who proffers a glass of Mo-wett and feel oh-so-superior with their French enunciation. Guess what dahlings the waiter is pronouncing it correctly and you are openly flaunting your ignorance along with that oversized Birkin.
I am always amused when society arrivistes order Bordox wine at restraunzand talk loudly about their new Yatch and Hermeez bags.
Do please write in with any fox passes you might have encountered.
Till then,au revoir,mon cherries!