I can still remember the time, when, even in Paris, a simple ‘Parlez-vous anglais?’ would be met with the annoyance hat-trick of raising the eyebrows, pursing the mouth and looking up at the sky with an expression of distaste for the foreigner who comes to France not speaking Dieu‘s own langue.
How times have changed. After a long hiatus (excluding Paris, which I visit almost every year, my last trip to France was in 2004) I returned in 2012 for three extensive research trips lasting over two months for a rewrite of three chapters of the Rough Guide to France. Although I spoke some reasonable French, every reception had their English speaker, restaurants tried to describe their dishes in English if there was no translation menu, and attractions had their English audio guides if items were not labelled in English as well. English, for a pragmatic folk such as the French, was there to stay, if tourists from places like Asia — who only learn English as a second language — were to be drawn to France.
But the shock was in the English signposting.
Art galleries seems to be the worst offenders. Maybe they want to appear international?
As for music – English rules
Some informational signs have sprung in English, too.
This confused me no end. This anglicism has been adopted in French to mean something else. But put the word ‘Relooking’ in Google Translate from French to English and you will get ‘Makeover’.
And finally some unfortunate signs for the English native speaker.