Luís wrote:Maybe I've been lucky so far, but I can't really relate to that.
Sure, the French can be a little impatient if you're a beginner (or if you try to speak English to them), but once your level improves they suddenly become much friendlier. I speak decent French (although I'm sure I have an accent and still make plenty of mistakes) and I've gotten random compliments from people in Paris.
Have you worked in Paris or just visited? For me, the difference between being a tourist there and working there was so big, my experiences might as well have been from two different countries. (So, for all I know, maybe the situation is similar in Italy, and I was just benefiting from being a tourist there...)
Saim wrote:It’s probably different groups of people who have different language skills, as many people might not be particularly comfortable speaking English even if they can understand enough to take orders
Sure, that may be the case for some (although in my experience, people who work with tourists, such as waitstaff, speak better English than most anyone else), but I encountered plenty of people who spoke very good English--far better than my French--but were reluctant or downright refused to speak it.
As for Indians, I think the reaction is a bit different depending on whether you have South Asian physical features or not.
Yeah, I understand that (which is why I premised my remarks with "as a non-Indian"). I experience the same thing with Persian, no matter how good my Persian is; because of my appearance, people giggle if I say anything that sounds even remotely non-native.
In that case I don’t think I would expect encouragement from strangers for speaking their language in their country, because speaking the language is the “expected” thing to do. ...
I also think it’s the case that in France there’s less of an expectation that people should be friendly to customers (ar least compared to many other countries), and the US is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Honestly I’ll admit that I prefer the French attitude.
To be clear, I prefer the French attitude as well in many regards. Certainly in terms of interactions with customers; I've lived most of my life in the US and the fawning obsequiousness expected of waitstaff in restaurants still makes me uncomfortable. A waiter's job is to serve food, not to be your friend. In general, I also think the French attitude that 'this is France, we speak French here, if you are visiting our country you should make an effort to speak our language rather than the reverse' is a very healthy one, certainly moreso than the Indian attitude that devalues local languages so much that anyone 'deigning' to speak a South Asian language rather than English is to be lauded for their 'sacrifice'. But it's these sets of attitudes that put up enormous mental blocks for me to learn French whereas I dove into learning Urdu with great ease. Also,
Luís wrote:As far as I understood, eskandar wasn't complaining about not receiving compliments, but rather that people looked down on him or treated him badly because his French was not perfect, which is a completely different thing.
Yes, exactly. And this was the other incredibly discouraging thing about trying to learn French while living in France and not just visiting as a tourist. I had many immigrant friends and neighbors who spoke far better French than I did, but who still had the same experience of not speaking well enough - not being native speakers - that they encountered problems. So this also contributed to my mental block against French. Knowing that no matter how much I learned I would still never really fit in or be accepted made me wonder why I was bothering in the first place.
Bref, I respect the French to some degree for the way they safeguard their language against the onslaught of global English, but at the same time, their attitudes made me not want to learn French.