Of course you will find differences in countries other than your own but I find many of mine are due to not understanding what is being said. For instance, my French teacher said the word, “Achat” which means to buy. I only heard the word “Chat” which means cat. She and I had puzzled expressions on our faces for a while until I finally realized what she was actually saying. She kept wondering why I was looking at her cat.
Our little neighbor boy, Yannis, was here for a couple of hours the other day while his mother expecting her second child-a little girl-went to the doctor. Yannis is a cheerful little guy and chatters on and on in French and I usually understand what he is talking about. I won’t let Maurice leave me alone with him though. The one time Maurice went outside for something Yannis said something that sounded like “le pain gris”. He wanted bread? Gris, which is the word for gray, puzzled me. Was it some type of pastry? So I showed him some bread we had to see if he wanted any but he shook his head and repeated, “Non, le pain gris”. I told him I didn’t understand. He repeated, this time with emphasis, “Le Pain GRIS“. Finally Maurice came in. Yannis wanted his gray rabbit, “Lapin Gris”. It all sounded the same to me.
On our hike the other day with three French women, I was asked how I met Maurice. I told them I met him on a blind date. This got an immediate reaction of interest. I often get this even from Americans with exclamations of, “Really?” and questions wanting to know how it all came about. I was a little puzzled by the reactions and questions of the French women. They said things about being in a dark room and having to find your date by feel and how that all happened. I thought they were just kidding around but the next day my teacher told me that the word “blind” had totally thrown them all off. They thought Maurice and I met in a dark place and literally couldn’t see each other-those crazy American customs. Isn’t that funny? I laughed about it for a long time and still do.
I still haven’t figured out which cheek to offer when doing the double French cheek kiss exchange, by the way. I asked Maurice and he, being a male, didn’t really know. I will ask my French teacher the next chance I get.