‘I am fluent in English’, ‘I am a businessman, a marketing manager, a doctor, a teacher, a professor, a researcher, a lawyer, an editor, an artist and, although neither my mother nor my father is English, I feel perfectly comfortable speaking English and understanding it and I even go as far as to say humbly that I am bilingual’.
I have often, too often met people who were convinced of their ability to master this beautiful and yet endangered language and was also insulted by some who believed their knowledge of English was vastly superior to mine; the best example I have in mind is probably the day when, as I entered a lift in an international law firm, my two companions of travel who happened to be French lawyers decided to carry on their conversation in English for obvious reasons of confidentiality. Strangely their tactic worked for I found it suddenly quite difficult to understand the gromky goloss that bellowed out of them, O my brothers.
Being French and although I think that after countless years of research, practice and endeavours to express myself in English in the best possible way (I have the sad feeling that this sentence is not quite right) when talking to native speakers I have managed to become a little proficient, I strongly believe that I will never be bilingual, which I regret deeply.
How could I dream to master perfectly such a complex and elusive language, to get the right music of the words without fail, to understand without apparent effort specific cultural references or crack the right joke at the right moment? So please, little Froggies, stop bragging about your amazing talents in business Henglish, legal Henglish or God-knows-what Henglish and go back to your grammar books and little dictionaries. Frankly, I think most of you would be distressed to hear the inner laughter of your English interlocutors when you open your mouths, you big shots.