I am now fielding both English and French technical support calls. Although my vocabulary is currently limited, my comprehension of spoken and written French hasn't suffered from my lack of exposure/practice.
I am forever grateful to my parents for enrolling me in French-immersion in Kindergarten. As a result, my second language is hard-wired in my brain; I hear French as I hear English, no need for internal translation.
I am also grateful to the French customer I've been dealing with. They are very patient with my slow-motion French, and my occasional butchering of their beautiful language.
In a recent email to some friends, I noted that the word 'Unfortunately' is often featured in my work correspondences. It's a word that comes with the tech-support territory. The French equivalent for this word is 'malheureusement'. A look at the root words 'unfortunate' and 'malheureux', provides a glimpse into the divergent thought-processes encouraged both languages.
Characterized by undeserved bad luck; unlucky.
Qui n'est pas heureux, qui est dans le malheur. [That which is not happy]
When I say, 'Unfortunately, we no longer provide service for your product,' I am telling the customer that fate has dealt them a bad hand.
When I say, 'Malheureusement, nous ne fournissons plus le service pour votre produit,' there is no indication that the customer's luck has come to an end. I am simply stating the sad fact that we can no longer help them.
From a customer service perspective I think the later is preferable. From a philosophical/linguistic perspective, I find it interesting that the prior subtly reinforces the concept of fate and fortune, a concept I think we would be better off without, (but that's another entry in itself, so I digress.)