Voulez vous visiter le Dorset?

If a French persons wants to visit Dorset and speaks English, they’ll be fine when they try and find information on the net. Just about. But what if a French traveller prefers to search for his holiday on the net in French? After all, it’s pretty likely. He may write ‘visiter dorset’ on google.fr. He’ll find this site (Pardon my Franglais) in 5th place before visit-dorset and dorset-newforest.

South East equals South West?
When I searched ‘visiter angleterre dorset’ dorset-newforest came first, tripAdvsior second, South-East Visit England third. I know, non sensical: South-East is not a typing error on my part. Pardon my Franglais comes 8th. Destination Dorset is not on the first page. I didn’t bother with the second page, most Google searchers don’t.

Attitude problem?
To think that Pardon my Franglais has been created for my random ramblings, does not get updated regularly, does not get many hits yet gets views from French people searching for a holiday in Dorset (and how to eat cheese in England) confirms something I already knew. English speaking people have a language attitude problem. I should know, I’ve lived here for over 20 years now.

English, the only language in the world?
If England is finally going to invest time, money and effort into tourism to show the rest of the world what a beautiful country this is (and what an outstanding county Dorset is), it may be time you lovely Brits realised that not everybody speaks English.
You can convince yourself (and many French speaking people) that your language is the first in the world. After all, Americans have done a good job of imposing their cinema even in France or insisting on international meetings begin held in English (how fair would you find them in French?) but that does not mean that they (and you) have succeeded in killing the other main languages altogether.

Who is losing out?
Is it not a shame to miss out on a huge market of French speaking (and Spanish speaking) potential customers? The only time British people speak to me in French is when they’ve had a few drinks. The other thing that often comes up after a few pints is how the British had a great empire (unlike the French of course). Living in the past does not always help the future.

Welcome, bienvenue, willkomen, blablabla
When will tourism professionals realise that languages are an important part of a service like hospitality and tourism? From the web searches of potential clients to the welcome of the staff. How nice is it when you travel and the waiter greets you in English? Do you take that for granted?
I am yet to go to a restaurant in England with my French speaking father and get any help from a waiter in translating a menu for him. I find my dictionary heavy in my handbag and waiting for my phone to connect and give me the answer really frustrating.
When in France, if I have to translate for my husband, there’s a good chance I’ll get some help if I get stuck, sometimes without asking.
When in Morocco, they’ll try in both languages, for good measure.

Food for French thoughts.


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