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Language Barriers


The whole time I was preparing to come here, I kept thinking ‘Hey man, I’m good, I speak French, I’ll be fine. I’ll learn Bambara for fun.’

Oh, how wrong I was… It appears that most men do speak french, as do educated women. This means that I am at a loss with women in the market, housekeepers and children. I think this stems from the fact that as you grow up, you speak Bambara with your family and only learn French once you’re in school. Since I’ve been here, I’ve been speaking French with my colleagues and with my hosts, and apart from a couple of problems with vocabulary, we’ve been fine. And then, I had to call customer service to figure out why I’m not getting canadian text messages, and I couldn’t get through to the woman. And that’s when I found out that most people actually don’t understand me. Some of my colleagues do, because they’ve worked with canadians before. Others actually just nod and pretend. And here I thought I was actually doing a good job toning down my accent. (What accent?! I’m so confused!)

Needless to say, this has been frustrating. I feel like I can’t show people who I really am, and I also hesitate to start telling stories or give my opinion. I have, however, started over pronouncing every word and using a bit of a French accent ( ba – TE – rie / mé – DE – cin / jE trouvE / etc). It makes me feel completely ridiculous, but I think it’s working! As long as I can snap out of it when I get back to Canada…


3 thoughts on “Language Barriers

  1. J’ai très hâte de t’entendre me parler de tes aventures avec ton nouvel accent 🙂

  2. Pingback: Where's Alex?

  3. Pingback: My first solo outing! | Where's Alex?

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