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Old 08-23-2016, 10:29 AM   #1
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Speakey de Frenchy?

Page and I are planning a trip to Canada again this fall, this time focusing more on Quebec. We have been several times previously and have always had a great time.

I'm the kind of traveler that looks at a map and wonders what this or that place looks like. So this time I'm looking at Lac-Ste-Jean, north of Quebec City, and then back down to the north shore of the St Lawrence for more touring.

We have not previously run into language issues except when we have been in very rural areas, such as a fishing village or two when we traveled around the Gaspe' peninsula. But I wonder whether it will be more of an issue when we venture in the Quebec interior.

Any travelers with insights for us? We already know how to smile a lot.

Pat
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Old 08-23-2016, 11:11 AM   #2
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Most people are flattered if you at least try to speak their language--really try, not just butcher a few words trying to pronounce them as if they were English. Why not get one of the computer-based or audio language courses and learn at least the basics.

If you start out with Bonjour, je parle seulment l'anglais, est-ce-que il-y-a on qui peut m'aidez? (Good day, I speak only English, is there anyone here who can help me?) you've at least shown some respect for their language.

Learn how to say the basic things you might need--food, bathroom, laundry, car repair, etc.

After that, Google Translate might help.

Good luck with the language and enjoy your trip.
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Old 08-23-2016, 11:13 AM   #3
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Old 08-23-2016, 12:23 PM   #4
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You should have no issues in Quebec City due to your lack of french. But as mimiandrews suggests learning at least some of the basic greetings will get you a long ways - anywhere in Quebec.

Heading out in the more remote areas you may find fewer folks as quick to speak English to you when they realize you do not speak french well. There are a couple of reasons for that 1) They probable know English but its not great, as they have few chances to practise it 2) A less common reason - you will need to read the history behind why Canada has two official languages. ;-)

If worse comes to worse - Google Translator is your friend!!

You will find that having Google Translator a good thing, as you will need it to help you read road signs & shop signs which are frequently only in French.

It is a beautiful area to travel through! Well worth the occasional minor langue issue.
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Old 08-23-2016, 12:28 PM   #5
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Maybe don't take a printout of this thread's title with you . . .

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Old 08-23-2016, 01:30 PM   #6
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Having lived in Quebec all my life I feel I can give you some advise.
The lac St-Jean and Saguenay regions are among the most beautiful places in Québec. They also happen to be places where the proportion of people speaking English is the lowest in Québec. That being said do not let this stop you from visiting. Most people working in the tourism industry will have at least a few notions of English. They might be hesitant to speak it because they know it is less then perfect but I am sure you will always be able to get by.

If at any point you think you need to justify not speaking French mention you are from the US, people sensitive about the language issue feel that all Canadian should be able to speak French but they do not expect that from American. As for google translate it is less then perfect. The problem is you do not realise it if you translate in a language you do not speak. If you speak another language then English do the test, write someting in English and have google translate in the other language. You will soon see the limits .

Traveling is about discovery and discovering a new culture will be fun , do not let it be stressful.

As a side note I remember being in a little restaurant in Texas, I think it was in Presidio ,where my English was useless as everyone spoke only Spanish. Through sign language I undestood that their specialty was Menudo ,something I had never heard off before. Well I just had to try it.......... And being polite I just had to finish my plate. It must have been ten years ago but my wife still makes fun of me from time to time asking me if I want a bowl of Menudo
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Old 08-23-2016, 01:59 PM   #7
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Thanks, guys (non-gender-specific, btw).

We did get introduced to poutine at a small village - a nice find, but a surprise to us. We just don't have that sort of thing in our old Virginia cuisine. You see, we read a menu and picked out an item that had "peschere" in it, and figured it had to be something with fish in it.

Turns out the item translated into "fisherman's lunch" and had no fish in it (I guess that's the last thing a fisherman wants for lunch). We were delightfully surprised when they handed over wonderful poutine with onions, peppers and gravy slathered over french fries.

The lady then stated the price and I struggled to translate the price into numbers before asking her to write it down. I ended up passing along some bills and let her decide what change I should get in return.

Much smiling and laughing along the way.

Pat
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Old 08-23-2016, 02:33 PM   #8
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Menudo is a common cure for hangovers in some places. A well-made bowl of menudo is delicious.

For those not familiar with it, it is a soup made with some of the less often used bits of the cow.


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Old 08-23-2016, 02:40 PM   #9
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Having traveled to both Quebec and France I found both places easy to visit and communicate. Thanks to Julia Child, French cuisine was made common in America a long time ago, so most likely you'll be able to figure out what's on the menu. You know, poulet (chicken), poisson (fish), etc.

Try doing the same in Asia!!! (At least some places there have menu's with photo's.)
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Old 08-23-2016, 02:49 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by pmclemore View Post
Thanks, guys (non-gender-specific, btw).

We did get introduced to poutine at a small village - a nice find, but a surprise to us. We just don't have that sort of thing in our old Virginia cuisine.

Pat
You might not have poutine but you have great country ham. I will trade any day.
My wife loves boiled peanut , she grew up eating those in Vietnam and was thrilled to find them in Virginia on a recent trip.
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Old 08-23-2016, 02:53 PM   #11
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Menudo is a common cure for hangovers in some places. A well-made bowl of menudo is delicious.

For those not familiar with it, it is a soup made with some of the less often used bits of the cow.


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Let's just say it is an acquired taste and one I do not expect to acquire
It made for a funny story , and anything that does not kill you makes you stronger.
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Old 08-23-2016, 03:28 PM   #12
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Somewhere on the Internet was once a list of what different cultures find as 'yukky' in other culture's cuisine.

It's rather revealing if you can find it.

I try to keep an open mind, since I'm Norwegian/German and wife is from Hong Kong. Our family eats stuff most Americans might not consider. Curried cuttlefish is one of my daughters favorites. However, Lutefisk, a Norwegian specialty, my Norwegian side of the family would never touch, go figure.

You never know what it's like unless you try it--like a Philippine dish known as 'Chocolate Pork'. Wonderful served over rice, unless you object to pig intestines cooked in a pig blood-based gravy. Our neighbor in San Diego was totally surprised we all loved her version. She was a heck of a good cook, and phillipino /Chinese as well.


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Old 08-23-2016, 04:08 PM   #13
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Been to Quebec City and up the north shore of the St Lawrence a number of times. Been to Lac St Jean. I speak no French and am hard of hearing in English. Never really had any problem. There are not a lot of people in the Lac St Jean area to speak to anyway. The north shore of the St Lawrence is one of the most beautiful drives I have been on. I love that area. Be sure to go on the whale watching cruise. Couple of cathedrals not to miss. I like Isle de Orlean right up from Quebec City. Quebec city is a good place to spend a few days.
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Old 08-25-2016, 08:33 AM   #14
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Thanks, folks. We love to wander around QC just because it is so exotic for us. Like an old Europe city without the hassle of flying. Plenty of small restaurants and bistros.

The countryside is lovely and the people friendly. We are looking forward to our trip.

Should I bring you a Smithfield ham, Papa?

Pat
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