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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

The Russian Need to Speak French

french-lessonsIt was the beginning of the 19th century and upper-class Russians spoke French… and hardly any Russian at all.

Maybe a little to the family servants, but that was it. Some could not even read nor write in Russian.

A friend of ours from Paris once gave me a beautiful, old book in French about a young Russian girl’s life. This was de rigeur and simply assumed that anyone of culture would speak the same.

Not that I lived in the early 19th century, in case you were wondering.paris15

So here we come with Russian children of our own. The eldest, Petya, studied French in high school, graduating this year. Now the next two siblings were slated to start. Of course, they believed that they could watch a video and be fluent the next minute. Which meant that I needed to speak with them non-stop, tutoring, coaching, urging proper pronunciation from those who had not yet mastered proper English.

4 French Lesson 1“Repetez, s’il vous plait,” I urge, “Bonjour!”

“Bahn-jer,” they try.

“Open your mouth: ‘Bohn’—use a nasal sound, speak through your nose and barely say the ‘n’ at the end, then add ‘zhoor’.”

“Bahn-jer,” they repeat.

“Monsieur – miss-yure.”french-lessons1

“Mister.”

I shake my head, repeating over and over until we finally move on.

“Merci—mehr-see.”

“Mercy.”

My thoughts exactly. Naturellement, Paris was not built in a day, and Russians speaking French could take some time, as well.

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