vous parle anglais? This is the pidgin equivalent of “Do you speak English” which is climbing up my charts as the most frequently used French sentence. And it is turning out to be very effective in enlisting help. I came across this phrase by chance when I overheard a friend interacting with a French speaking person. The friend in question immediately got a positive response in broken English. So, I decided to ask and learn this magic sentence by heart.
Now, this is the first question I ask whenever I approach someone for help. I get two kinds of responses. Most common is a shrug followed by the words “a little”. For everything, the French has a shrug accompanying their sentence. I wonder why. The second response is a gesture by using the thumb and index finger indicating “a little”.
From that moment onwards, it is very easy. You ask them the real question haltingly with emphasis on the verbs aided by gesticulating hands. This always yields the answers you are looking for.
If you are going to France, this phrase will come in handy. So far, I have not encountered anyone who answered in negative!