mercredi 9 avril 2014

French is a polite language 1 : Tu & Vous

The French people are often accused of being rude with a capital “R”. This cliché is so popular that even people who have never set foot in France take it upon themselves to warn potential visitors about French rudeness.

We have all heard of one stereotype or another about the French... French people stink, they don't take their bath daily and wear a lot of perfume in order to cover up the stench, they never speak English, they love wine, cheese and baguettes, they smoke a lot, they dress like fashion models, their women don't shave their armpits, and the list continues...
The rude French Waiter 1
After living two years in France, I think it's just a myth. In my experience, I can say that the French people appear unfriendly, but that doesn't mean they are rude. They don't go about looking at the faces of people they pass by on the streets, they don't go about with a smile on their faces, they wouldn't notice if someone who is crying silently walked beside them. They often seem to be lost in their own thoughts... often times, they wear a look of sadness as if the weight of the whole world was sitting on their shoulders... weighing them down. But that's my opinion, judging from the part of France where I live.

Here in Cagnes-sur -mer, there seem to be a high concentration of old people. I have never seen these much old people who look as sad as if they didn't live their life to the fullest. All I see is sadess and a glimpse of regret. But that's my interpretation, a Lagosian.

But I can say that the French Language is a very polite language...
The rude French Waiter 2
Unlike the English language where the 2nd person subject pronoun you is used :
  • for one or more persons
  • for someone you are familiar with or not
  • for someone older than you are or not
The French have two different words for you.
  • Tu is the informal you used when you have a certain closeness with the person you are speaking to : God, your parents, your siblings, a relative, a friend, a peer, a colleague, a child, etc.
  • Vous is the formal you used to show respect or maintain a certain distance or formality with someone. Vous is used when speaking to someone you don't know well, an older person, an authority figure, anyone to whom you wish to show respect. Vous is also the plural you - you have to use it when talking to more than one person, no matter how close you are.
In France, using tu with someone you don't know or someone you should show respect to, is considered as being rude : an insult.

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