Leesville is initiating a new series of summer trips beginning with 2016’s trip to England, France and Spain, chaperoned by Mrs. Scioli, Mr. Andy Hunt, Senor Ross and Mr. Broer.
The trip consists a group of simple minded plebeians from the southern liberal bubble that is Raleigh, North Carolina and taking them on a wild ride into the snooty, high-fashion, and overrated culture that is western Europe.
As a snooty member and former resident of Lyon, France, my main concern for these students is not just the culture, but the language. And so I must take this moment to stress how important it is to not indulge in Google translate. You will sound stupid, and you will not make sense and those French people will have no patience for that.
First of all, because France in located in a pinnacle of European culture, unlike the isolated United States, the majority of people speak at least a little bit of English. So even if you have no interest in trying to speak the language, you’ll be fine.
For those of you looking to get a little more out of the experience, my recommendation (as well as Madame West’s) would be WordReference. Though you can’t translate full phrases, the website will actually tell you how to say something the culturally appropriate way and not just the direct translation. No need to worry about idioms or grammar, the website also has a conjugator.
“But that’s hard” you say, “and Google Translate is so simple.” It may be simple, but it’s simply not correct. For example, think about a phrase a majority of tourists find themselves asking at least once in their life: Can you tell me how to get to the bathroom? and the translation is: Pouvez- vous me dire comment se rendre à la salle de bain?
Now I have to hand it to Google Translate, this phrase isn’t all bad but there is one part that could be potentially dangerous. La Salle de Bain refers specifically to the bathroom. Room in which there is a bath, usually located within one’s house. On WordReference, however, it will stress how in French, you should actually say les Toilettes. A translation not found on Google translate whether you put in bathroom, restroom or washroom, and it’s not normal in the English language to ask for directions specifically to the toilet.
So there you have it. Does it really matter? Not necessarily, but doesn’t it make you feel better to say the actual right thing? And the best part, the word reference app is free. Thanks to the evolution of technology, you don’t have to worry as much about getting your message across however, there are several cultural differences that you will miss out on if rely solely on Google Translate.