I Apologized for Saying Merci Beaucoup (Thank You)

It is sometimes difficult to explain the relationship between the Flemish speaking and the French speaking parts of Belgium to other Americans. Heck, I’m not sure I understand it and I have been trying to for decades now.
While I was in Belgium, we went to see the ruins of an amazing castle. It was both interesting and beautiful. If you want to read more about it, here is the link: http://www.montaigle.be/  Since it is in French, here is another link to see information about the ruins (this time in English) medieval-castle-ruins-of-montaigle.

I wanted a picture of all of us with the castle behind us and asked a passer-by exiting the castle if they could please take our picture (in French). They did so and I thanked them. When they found out I spoke English they switched to it immediately and so did I.  This is because they were from the north of Belgium and Flemish is their mother tongue.* They made it clear that they preferred English to French.

When they left, I reflexively said “merci beaucoup” without thinking and then, immediately apologized for having spoken in French. To make reparations, I attempted a “dank u”.

*I have always been advised when meeting Belgians who speak Flemish to speak English not French (one of their country’s languages and mandatory in school from an early age). I was told that they could feel slighted that I had chosen to learn one of their countries other languages before Flemish. I have always done so and found their English to be excellent.

 

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