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  #1  
Old 10 Mar 2007
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Learning French?

Hello there

I am going to drive to Gambia with my car from West Europe. Most countries on my route are francophone. Is it necessary to speak a good word of French? At this moment I don't speak a word of that language.

Thanks for any reply,
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Old 10 Mar 2007
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It depends! If you will just rush thru those countries, and dont want to be involved in any kind of communication, then you can cope with some English and body language.
But it is way more interesting to understand at least something locals say.
And it will be more appreciated if you learn greetings or so in local languages as well.
When I went down for first time I also didnt understood a single word, after that I decided I need to learn french...
Have fun!
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Old 10 Mar 2007
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Last time I did this route I made do with about 50 words of half remembered schoolboy french. I survived but it would have been a lot more pleasant had I put as much effort into learning french as I put into bike preparation.
Spending the night with a Moroccan family and being unable to talk to them, trying to get the bike repaired in Nouhadibou (and Atar and St Louis) and even being unable to buy a bottle of milk in Dakhla all convinced me that learning some of the language was essential.
There was a thread some time ago about the best way to learn a new language but as a minimum I'd suggest something like the Michel Thomas 2hr introductory course which is only about £20.00
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Old 10 Mar 2007
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Here is the way to learn a language if you are limited in time

Buy some Learning language CDs and listen to them while travelling.

At home it is difficult to be motivated. But once on the road, you'll have people everywhere around you to practice with.

Then when you'll start dreaming during your sleep in another language. Congratulate yourself! You may now start to learn another language !!!

Patrick
  #5  
Old 10 Mar 2007
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I can highly recomend the Michel Thomas CDs. He has a rather unorthodox method of putting things across, but it is really effective at picking up phrases in a short space of time.
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Old 10 Mar 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chapati View Post
I am going to drive to Gambia with my car from West Europe. Most countries on my route are francophone. Is it necessary to speak a good word of French? At this moment I don't speak a word of that language.
Definitely take some time to learn at least some basics: numbers, dates, language for buying in a market, restaurant, hotel, etc.
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Old 11 Mar 2007
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Another vote for Michel Thomas. I have the full eight hour course plus the four hour advanced course on my iPod. And as Patrick writes, you are more motivated when you are actually in the country.

One of the most useful phrases is 'Pour allez ...?' which I tend to adapt to almost every circumstance.

Which road to Tanger? Pour allez Tanger?
Is there a hotel here? Pour allez hotel?
How do I get off these tracks? Pour allez goudroné? (tarmac)

Tim
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Old 11 Mar 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chapati View Post
Hello there

I am going to drive to Gambia with my car from West Europe. Most countries on my route are francophone. Is it necessary to speak a good word of French? At this moment I don't speak a word of that language.

Thanks for any reply,
Of course you should learn French!
  #9  
Old 11 Mar 2007
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I got a U (unclassified - or useless!) in my french o'level but still managed to communicate reasonably well on the same route as you the times I have done it. sometimes though it helps to play the stupid englishman waving your arms about and speaking louder (eg, when pulled up for some erroneous traffic offence!) Even if I spoke the language well I would avoid letting on in some cases.
Ultimately if someone wants to communicate with you, and vice versa, you can manage suprisingly well. English is spoken in many of the tourist areas but I would avoid those as you also get more hassle. On most borders a smattering of french will help. also take a phrase book or dictionary for when you really get stuck, although I have never had to use mine.

Are you travelling with the PDC, now known as the banjul challenge I think. if not are you aware of restrictions on right hand drive vehicles going in to Gambia? not a problem if you are on a bike obviously, but definately if you are in a car.
check out
eBay.co.uk Shop - Captain Moggy's Surplus Store: Books: Me, dad, and the Plymouth to Dakar new book
for my book on doing this route in a beaten up pink suzuki SJ on the PDC

Andy
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Last edited by moggy 1968; 11 Mar 2007 at 12:43. Reason: schpelling!!
  #10  
Old 11 Mar 2007
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Thanks you guys. I will definately need to learn French. My main reason is the experience the Africans. And what is better then speaking the same language. It will be tough to learn though. But I will give it a try. I got some basic French in school but I all lost that. I think I have my French schoolbooks somewhere. Anyways, cheers!!!
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Old 11 Mar 2007
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In muslim areas a 'salam alecum' said as a greeting often goes down well, shows your a bit more interested in their culture. you have to get it in first though, if he says a greeting first the reponse is different. I can't remember what it is but I am sure someone here will know, I think it is just the reverse, i.e. alecum salam', but I could be very wrong on that!

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Last edited by moggy 1968; 11 Mar 2007 at 22:58.
  #12  
Old 12 Mar 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Cullis View Post
One of the most useful phrases is 'Pour allez ...?' which I tend to adapt to almost every circumstance.

Which road to Tanger? Pour allez Tanger?
Is there a hotel here? Pour allez hotel?
How do I get off these tracks? Pour allez goudroné? (tarmac)
Kaput!

Errr Benzenee ? Gas?
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  #13  
Old 12 Mar 2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by moggy 1968 View Post
I got a U (unclassified - or useless!) in my french o'level but still managed to communicate reasonably well on the same route as you the times I have done it. sometimes though it helps to play the stupid englishman waving your arms about and speaking louder (eg, when pulled up for some erroneous traffic offence!) Even if I spoke the language well I would avoid letting on in some cases.
Ultimately if someone wants to communicate with you, and vice versa, you can manage suprisingly well. English is spoken in many of the tourist areas but I would avoid those as you also get more hassle. On most borders a smattering of french will help. also take a phrase book or dictionary for when you really get stuck, although I have never had to use mine.

Are you travelling with the PDC, now known as the banjul challenge I think. if not are you aware of restrictions on right hand drive vehicles going in to Gambia? not a problem if you are on a bike obviously, but definately if you are in a car.
check out
eBay.co.uk Shop - Captain Moggy's Surplus Store: Books: Me, dad, and the Plymouth to Dakar new book
for my book on doing this route in a beaten up pink suzuki SJ on the PDC

Andy
This is highly questionable advice - don't play the "stupid Englishman" if you're not English (or stupid). Some travellers hide the fact that they're English, such is the poor reputation of a minority of them for shouting (or "speaking louder") at people, as if the Empire still existed; to say nothing of poodle Blair's illegal war in Iraq. One English bloke I know still refers to Asians as "coolies". He should be dangled from his dangly bits. Avoid this fate.

If you speak some French, you can use that asset to AVOID hassles, as I have done in France when caught in minor infringements by the police, e.g. crossing the double white line. They like to hear anglophones speaking their language -and why not? French is a real asset in Africa too.

French is a world language. Enough said.

And please dont, as Moggy suggests, say "a salaam o alaikum " in a French speaking country, as these words are Arabic!

Last edited by Caminando; 12 Mar 2007 at 14:22.
  #14  
Old 12 Mar 2007
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Originally Posted by Caminando View Post
And please dont, as Moggy suggests, say "a salaam o alaikum " in a French speaking country, as these words are Arabic!
To get to Gambia from West Europe you would possibly cross:

Morocco: religion, Islam (98%), official language: Arabic
Western Sahara: religion - Islam, language: Arabic
Mauritania: religion - Islam (c. 100%), official language: Arabic
Senegal: religion - Islam (94%)

Perhaps even Algeria: religion - Islam (99%), official language: Arabic
or Mali: religion - Islam (90%)

I would think “as salam alaikum” would be a very nice thing to say in those countries, just as it might be in Paris or Marseille when meeting and greeting Muslims.
Stephan
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Old 12 Mar 2007
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Would you say "salaam" in London? The first post enquired about FRENCH not Arabic. FRENCH not Arabic!
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