Parlez-vous Français?

Before leaving for France I took a small amount of comfort in the fact that I knew basic, survival French. Yet after 10 days in Perpignan it’s clear I was wrong about how far the limited amount of French I speak would get me.

While I’m able to order my morning coffee and croissant at the nearby café, it’s become apparent that an interpreter just might become the most useful journalistic tool for me during my time here.

Recently, at a “slow food–fresh food” tasting with France Bleu Roussillon radio host Virginie Saint Clair I had my first taste of what it might be like work with an interpreter to interview French-speaking residents. Walking away from the interview, I’m glad I was able to have this experience first, before being sent out into the field with an interpreter to work on our main multimedia project.

Three varieties of Fleur De Sel Du Roussillon

Three varieties of Fleur De Sel Du Roussillon

With the help of one of our faculty members, Laird Harrison, I spoke with Gerard Riviere, the man behind Fleur De Sel Du Roussillon.

Using a completely new process, Riviere turns seawater into salt in 24 hours.

While attempting to ask questions about the process he uses to create his salt, I noticed that both myself and Riviere were looking almost exclusively at Harrison, a no-no on my part as the interviewer.

Furthermore, I found my pen often paused just above my Steno pad as I struggled to take notes and record quotes when the responses I was getting to my questions were in third person. It felt more like I was being told about Riviere than actually having a conversation with him.

With a few small tweaks to my note taking and a more structured, intimate setting I hope to come out of my next experience working with an interpreter feeling less overwhelmed and more in control.