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Whenever I have trouble understanding a native speaker, I ask them to speak more slowly by requesting something to the effect of "Parlez plus lentement, s'il vous plaît."

But I have more than once had someone infer what I was going to say and complete the sentence for me, except they say doucement instead of lentement.

Is lentement the wrong word for this context?

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Both « lentement » and « doucement » can be used with the meaning of « moins vite ».

Pouvez-vous parler plus doucement, s'il vous plaît ?

In the sentence above, « parler doucement » can mean either « parler lentement {speak slowly} » or « parler à voix basse {speak quietly} », depending on context.

Although... in order to eliminate any ambiguity, it is more common to use « lentement »:

Pouvez-vous parler plus lentement, s'il vous plaît ?

  • Actually, I consider using "doucement" with the meaning of "lentement" as a mistake, even if it's a common one – Jean-Denis Muys Oct 15 '16 at 22:06
  • @Jean-DenisMuys Hi. Someone in a fit of excitement/temper tends to speak fast and loud. In such a specific case, the use of "doucement" might come in handy: "Can you calm down a little bit, speak more slowly and quietly?" Qu'en penses-tu ? :) – Con-gras-tue-les-chiens Oct 16 '16 at 8:54
  • J'en pense du bien. "parle plus doucement, les enfants dorment" (speak more quietly, the children are sleeping), but "répète plus lentement, je n'ai pas pu noter" (repeat slowlyer, I couldn't write it down) – Jean-Denis Muys Oct 16 '16 at 9:21

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