Friday, March 12, 2010

french friday - part deux

Bienvenue!  Thanks for coming back for the second edition of French Friday.  I'm glad the video from last time didn't scare you off.

Today we're talking about les salutations (greetings).

Let me just get it out there (I'm sure several of you will protest this), but the French are a more polite people than Americans.  For example, have you noticed (in America) how when you walk into Blockbuster, they always say "Hello"?  Well, they do, or at least they're supposed to, and I must admit, it used to throw me off guard every time.  I'd look around wondering who knew me and, after seeing no one and realizing it must have been the blue-shirted worker, I'd mumble a nearly inaudible greeting.  They might even have a line of people waiting to rent movies and they somehow still hear the ding of the door and welcome me in.  I'm ready for it now and always answer back with a nice strong "Hi."  We, as Americans aren't used to this.  But if you live in France, it's just a part of the culture.  They're nicer.

I think the article below says it best:
In some countries, it's acceptable to greet a salesclerk, for example, with just a smile, but not in France - always start out with a polite bonjour. Even when entering a waiting room or boarding a bus, the French will mutter bonjour as a general greeting to everyone within earshot.

In addition, if you know the person or are being introduced, you're also expected to either faire la bise (kiss cheeks) or se serrer la main (shake hands). When arriving at work or school, this means you should go around the room and individually greet each person.
- taken from, article by Laura K. Lawless

Can you imagine saying hello every time you entered a room?  In America, people would think you were un(e) dingue (nutcase).  Or worse yet, kissing cheeks or shaking hands with each person in the room?  It sounds strange to us, but really, you have to admit it would make for a more polite society.  Especially in a society where people don't even look up from their phones long enough to acknowledge your existence.  But that's a post for another time...

I'm sure most of you can handle a standard bonjour.  But how many of you would be willing to faire la bise (kiss cheeks)?  I love the following video as an English man tries to understand the whole concept, especially when it comes to kissing another man!  (gulp)

If you want to waste a few more minutes, check out this video for an American take on social kissing:

I remember being a little uneasy about the whole kissing thing 
when I visited France.  
What if I went for the wrong cheek and ended up kissing on the lips?! Ew!  
And what if I was smelly or something?  
Trust me... I wasn't the one with an odor problem...  
And what if I caught some nasty virus? This still concerns me, but if you think 
about it, the French's immunities must be pretty strong 
since they kiss all the time.  
But really, after a few times, I become an old pro.  
Ready to visit France now? Better practice puckerin' those lips...

Oh, and Londa... "Mon frère est un dingue."


peter marie said...

Very interesting!! Can't wait until the next time I see you...*wink* *wink*...

I wish I would have paid enough attention to do a "Dutch Donderdag" on my blog, but I was too busy eating their cheese and bread and smelling all the hashish.

I think you should post some old pictures of you in France too!

The Sneaky Mommy said...

Offer your right cheek...that would have been helpful to know!
The first time we went to France to see my brother, we were overwhelmed with all the kissy greetings! During church, my face started to feel like it was on fire. I had broken out in horrible hives from all the perfume on "new cheeks". It was awful!
Thanks for the French help! You're a good teacher--I hope I don't let you down!

Joy said...

Great post, thanks!
And remember if you head a bit north to Belgium it's
trois fois (three times) or right-left-right!!

Amy Kramer said...

Where's our French Friday Katie video????????!!!!!!!! :)

This Heavenly Life said...

I'm not gonna lie -- I'm a little sad about not having a pronunciation video. What...are you BUSY or something?!

Also, do you always kiss on the same side first? Or just keep an eye towards what the other person's doing? How do you know which way to go first?

Emily said...

This is fantastic! Thanks to you, I'm really going to be ready for our trip to France!

As for the kissing thing, Italians do that too and it always used to make me nervous. Even now, I can never remember which cheek to offer first, but I actually do think it's a nice way to greet your friends.