Tuesday, September 27, 2005

While we're on the subject of bilingualism...

I had an American woman here the other day for a haircut. She's been in Canada for a long time. Her husband is from Québec, they met in Vermont (where she is from) but they have been living in this area for about 20 years or so. Anyway, her name happens to be Jean Richards. Now, all self-respecting English-speaking people know that Jean is a girl's name, and is pronounced as in blue jeans, or gene. Unfortunately, all self-respecting French-speaking people know that Jean is a boy's name and is pronounced as in Jean Chrétien (ex prime-minister of Canada) (French version of John)

With a last name like Richards, which is very similar to the French last name Richard (silent d), our lady has been in a few funny situations, not the least of which is the following:

A few years ago, she went to see a plastic surgeon to get two moles taken off her face. When she went back for the check-up afterwards, her name was called "Jean Richard" pronounced in French. She got up to see the surgeon, and suddenly everyone started staring and whispering. She didn't know why, but shrugged it off and went into the doctor's office. When she came out, the friend she had come with greeted her with a smile. As they were walking out the door, her friend said, "I know why they are all staring. They're all thinking: Wow, the plastic surgeon sure did a good job on him!"

Everyone thought she was a transvestite!