If you’re living outside your home country then the answer isn’t an obvious one.
Say you’re living in France and you’re from the UK. In that case, the language you use within the family will be English whilst the language you use outside the home will usually be French, won’t it?
Well, not necessarily. For example, in our case for a variety of reasons this year less than 10% of our guests were French. Thus, in practical terms in 90% of the time we ended up using English with the guests. That’s not because they were British mind you because under 10% were; it’s because of that 90% non-French clientele, almost all of them had a preference to communicate in English rather than French (they were largely German and Dutch).
Which has resulted in a series of odd complaints, mainly from the French guests. We weren’t greeting everyone in French, nobody spoke French, etc. Seeing as we can see where the various cars come from as people arrive we actually greet them in the most appropriate language we can muster whether that be English, French or Spanish. If it’s a German number plate then we kick off in English because we know that 99% of them speak it better than we do.
What we can’t obviously do is insist that all the guests speak French as one French couple seemed to want going by their complaint. In fact, they were the only French couple staying that day and were surrounded by Germans, Dutch and Spanish who all chose to speak English to each other whilst having breakfast.
The peculiar common thread behind these complaints is that the French seemingly assume that in a French hotel all the staff will be French and so will all the guests which seems pretty weird in these days of widespread international travel.Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.