Flying in France

What Languages do you know?

I barely know enough French to get by… and I know smatterings of a dozen other languages… but I don’t have full command of any of them. How about you? I get the feeling there are many multi-lingual people around here!

Daily Photo – Flying in France

I remember when I was learning French at Jesuit. I took four years of it, and one of the first things I saw was a little cartoon in a book. It was two little French girls on a ride just like this. One was saying to the other, “Aiiyeeeee! Sylvie! Tenez!!!!”

Anyway, I always think of that when I see little French children on a ride. I feel like calling it out, but it always seems a little creepy for a stranger to say such a thing.

Flying in FranceI remember when I was learning French at Jesuit.  I took four years of it, and one of the first things I saw was a little cartoon in a book.  It was two little French girls on a ride just like this.  One was saying to the other, "Aiiyeeeee!  Sylvie!  Tenez!!!!"  Anyway, I always think of that when I see little French children on a ride.  I feel like calling it out, but it always seems a little creepy for a stranger to say such a thing.- Trey RatcliffRead the rest here at the Stuck in Customs blog.

  • Susan

    Looks fun…..I can hear the girls screaming in delight!

  • Haha, that is fantastic, your little writeup made me smile 🙂 I have lived in Italy for the past 2 years and have picked up quite a bit, as well as took classes when I arrived. It is difficult being a military person here since we strictly work with Americans everyday, and my roomate for the past 2 years was a Yank as well… I know what you mean though, I always try and learn some words in the local language to be a tad more respectfull while photographing their beautiful countrysides and cities. I lie the shot, processed in Silver Efex Pro??

  • Lovely capture, I can hear them screaming in French 🙂 As for languages… we speak Maltese here and I know English quite well. Can understand Italian perfectly well but not so much when it comes to speaking it. And can also understand some French (if spoken slowly :P).

  • I’m always very envious of folks who are multi-lingual. Some people grow up in that environment and others just have a great aptitude for it. Sadly, I do not.

    Great comp, Trey. Love the B&W.

  • I still remember a few of the sentences that were in my french book… from more than 10 years back :)) funny how some things just stick. “Simon et René arrive a la gare” :))

    Like the picture, I wonder though what it would look like in colour.

  • Patrick Ahles

    Nice composition. Great to see a B&W every now and then!
    I speak Dutch, the Maastricht dialect (a minority language), my English is quite good, as is German. My French is rather bad though, although I would get by if needed.

  • Amy

    I speak Japanese fluently and enough Spanish to get by, and should also note that I love your photos. Always. Every single one.

  • Gail in Montana

    You wouldn’t get me on that ride, Trey. Anything that goes around in circles, no way, lol. Bet they were screaming, let me off!! It is good to see an old-fashioned B&W photo occasionally. All your photos are spectacular. Have a great Wednesday 🙂

  • Fun shot Trey! And good call not to shout out to the children. he he. My Japanese is very rough (vocabulary always escapes my memory bank). I understand Tagalog, but speaking/writing comes is a bit slow. And I think after 32 years I’m just finally starting to get the hang of English. ;-P

  • Nicolas L

    I like this contrast and the details!
    Personally I speak both French and English, and I’ve lived in the US and France equal amounts of time. Where in France was this?

  • Bill B

    As always, love your choice of subject and POV. What made you decide to do this in B&W?
    Speaking of languages, since I’m tone deaf, I can’t hear inflections as well, so I speak English only and understand a few words here & there. My daughter speaks 6 languages and “knows” a few more of the related ones.

  • Carlos (CM Ortega)

    Great pic Trey. I speak English, Spanish and Portuguese.

  • Linda

    I’m so glad you decided to do this image in b&w. It’s really appealing. As for languages, I took six years of Japanses, but because I haven’t used it, most of it has fallen away. I also took four years of Spanish, even longer ago (jr. high and high school). I still remember rather useless lines from the dialogues we had to memorize: ¡Caramba! Se me olvidó mi cuaderno.

  • Thanks!

    Bill B – I dunno – it just felt like it was about shapes and lines…

    Adam – Yes it is SEPro

  • The angle and choice of color on this photo is excellent! It’s either gives a very eerie feeling or something out of a fantasy… I can decide yet. I recently shot a very similar shot at a creepy carnival, but instead of actual children riding the rides they had mannequins on the Farris wheel. Mine defiantly falls in the eerie category. (

  • English and Polish for me. Born in Poland, moved to Canada when I was 8. Still speak Polish when talking to family.

    Great shot Trey!

  • Jake

    I just had the trippiest experience. I myself am trying to learn a new language. Since I’ve started, I always wonder which languages people know too, especially people that travel quite frequently like yourself. Just now, when I was waiting for your homepage to load, I wondered “hmm, I wonder which languages Trey Ratcliff knows.” At this point, I could not see anything on your website, I was looking at a blank white screen. I was literally ready to ask you this question. And, then…the page loaded and I read the exact words I had in my head. It was truly a very trippy experience!!

  • I like how you chose to freeze the action. Pretty scary looking. By the way I know sign language but that is it other than english.

  • Olli from Berlin, GER

    Trey, nice image. B&W makes it pop out of your other stunnIng work. The longer Iook at it the more I feel like being beamed back into a 1930s Godzilla-like phantasy movie. The question there is: “Will the couple at the 4 o’clock position be eaten by the ferris wheel robot out of control? Or, are they allowed to make another round captured in their swinging seats?” Cool, when a photo can tell a story, even if it is just fiction 😉 .

    I am German by birth, speaking English, Russian and Polish, grabbed some Italian, French and Spanish. My tips are: When you are in a foreign country try not to hang around with others that speak your own language. (I know this is a hard one for English native speakers because the whole world seems to know at least some English.) Thus you will be forced to speak another language. Next: Open your eyes. Read and translate every big text line you see (signs, headlines etc.). That will teach you basic stuff and may help you to survive. And: Don’t hesitate to make mistakes. Go out and speak to locals in their language (or try it at least). This training makes you speak and understand more fluently, may discover some secrets for great shots on-site and makes it much easier to make friends. Okay, lesson is over 🙂


  • “Aiiyeeeee! Sylvie! Tenez!!!!”
    Yeah, don’t ever say that, it doesn’t make any sense.

    “Aiiyeeeee!” is not known interjection or onomatopoeia in French. And I guess that “tenez” is a bad translation from “hold on”, except that it would be “tiens bon” but even that is not natural speech, a natural thing to say would be “accroche-toi” maybe…

    (I speak French (native language), English, and I know bits of German, Russian and Japanese. I can understand but not speak Italian and Spanish if my life depends on it)

  • Heather

    I took french in high school, which seemed to consist mostly of our learning songs and playing scrabble. Fifteen years later all I’ve retained is “Je joue au tennis” and “J’habite une voiture rouge.”

  • Claire

    Love your pics. Found you when looking for info on Shanghai. I currently live in Brazil and will move to the other side of the planet in a few months.
    I speak Portuguese (native language), English (I teach English as a second language) and a little French (because I love it).
    My husband speaks English (native lgg), Portuguese (lived 5 years in Brazil), German (worked for a German co.), Dutch (we lived in Belgium for 5 years), Spanish (communicating to Latin Americans for business purposes), Latin and Greek (learned in college).
    Hey Trey, you should come down to Brazil. Special places for your special eye. Have you heard of Bonito, Fernando de Noronha or Lençóis Maranhenses? Besides the Amazon, of course. You’d love it!

  • beth h

    I absolutely adore all of your photography!
    I too try to pick up languages wherever I go,its a much more satisfying experience to immerse yourself in a local culture. As a fellow photographer, and teen with wanderlust, I find that my favorite thing to do in a foreign city is simply wander around with my camera for a few hours, j’adore l’exploration urbaine!
    As for languages, I’m American (so english of course!) and I’m in my fourth year of taking french, my second of spanish and I know bits and pieces of a few others

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