Posted on | December 11, 2008 | 9 Comments
Language learners often agonize at occasions when they try to practice a language with the natives, only to receive responses in their own language (often English). Imagine the reverse happens. Someone greets you in your learning language. But the fact that the language was also foreign to her was so obvious that you would not even try to embarrass her by replying in the same language.
I went into a French café restaurant tonight in Atlanta, GA. I was at once greeted with a “Bonsoir” by a waitress. Come on! All the servers in the restaurant looked so American! I was nice enough to reply with a “Bonsoir”. But later I wondered why I bothered to do so. If they thought I was a francophone, and tried to speak my language, then I would appreciate their effort. But please don’t try to impress your customers by pretending to be a foreigner. The authenticity of the restaurant is judged by its food, not by the greetings, the music, nor the paintings on the walls. I cannot imagine how embarrassed they would become if a real francophone drops by and starts throwing some French at them.
This phenomenon seems to come up quite often in many supposedly-foreign restaurants. In Toronto, most Japanese restaurants are run by Chinese (the rest are run by Koreans). Sometime, they would greet the incoming customers with a loud “IRASSHAIMESA”! That is annoying. Stop it!
This also reminds me of those gondoliers singing in the fake canal inside the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. Can’t they hire someone who at least look a bit like an Italian!
Having said that, I feel sorry for those servers and gondoliers. Quite often, it is their bosses who forced them into performing those stupid stuns.