The stranger was now standing near to them, – almost so near that he might hear their words. Burgo, perceiving this, walked up to him, and, speaking in bad French, desired him to leave them. “Don't you see that I have a friend with me?”
“Oh! a friend,” said the man, answering in bad English. “Perhaps de friend can advance moneys?”
“Misther, Misther!” said the man in a whisper.
“What do you want of me?” asked Mr Palliser, in French.
Then the man spoke in French, also. “Has he got any money? Have you given him any money?” (Trollope 1938 : 76, 454, 457)
When the feckless Burgo Fitzgerald and the exemplary Plantagenet Palliser went to Baden in the 1850s (in Anthony Trollope’s novel Can you forgive her?), they did not attempt to speak German with a ‘stranger’. What happened is related in the epigraph. There is a given, conventionalised lingua franca, used for speaking to strangers, in this case French. Speakers who appear not to know this language well will be a...