I’m a novice when it comes to spoken French and the subtleties of the language but I really want to do it justice when I reference it in my novel. The particular scene I need help with is a first person account of a French woman where she tells the reader about an occasion when was approached by English Gentleman (an official and very well educated) who was fluent French speaker, but not a native, and how she knew he wasn't French. I wanted to include details of how she
she might have missed initially if she wasn’t paying too much attention to him but as her guard was up already in the scene, she was able to spot the giveaways that others may have missed.
Whether it be pronunciation, tense, inflection or something to do with the time etc.
The English man in the scene approached the French woman when she’s at work in a post office and hands her a note. He tells her something along the lines of ”I need this delivered by tomorrow morning, 9:30 at the latest. Tracked” with a French name and address on the envelope. I’m thinking something around the way he says the time could be interesting, but I’m not sure how it would work yet?
What are some subtle giveaways that native French speakers pick up with non native French speakers that indicate to them them that they’re not French? (That aren’t so obvious.)
Any thoughts will be helpful. Thank you for your time🙏🏻
Although this forum is only for discussing specific kwiziq lessons, I find your question intriguing, particularly because I'm also a writer and have faced similar problems.
A possible slip-up might be the way one refers to a traced letter in French vs. German. In French, one would commonly say une lettre avec suivi. In German, however, one would refer to such a letter as "ein eingeschriebener Brief". Translating the German to French in a literal way, gives une lettre inscrite or une lettre enregistrée. You could use this as a possible give-away.
Also, could use something simple such as mixing ‘24 hour phrase’ with a ‘ 12 hour phrase’.
Especially in an informal context, he could say something like ‘ neuf heures trente ‘ for 9: 30 am - native speakers would usually say ‘neuf heures (et) demie’ (almost always, except perhaps for a small number of strict ‘military time‘ adherents ).
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