Free thoughts on language learning

Discussions on learning Spanish, English and other language issues. Occasionally, we may stray from language learning topics if there is something that catches my interest.

Friday, January 12, 2007

French Manners - It's a minefield out there

Kermit the Frog said, "It's not easy being green" but it appears that being polite in France these days is tough for natives and foreigners alike.  As reported in yesterday's   the French are waging a war (would it be called a civil war or civility war?) to restore manners to French society.  The Paris transit authority, the Hospital Federation of France, the Ministry of Education all have their initiatives to get people to behave better.

Here's a snippet from the article:

In the perfect French world, rules govern even the most mundane subjects: how to answer the telephone, how to greet a guest at the door, how to address a stranger, what to take to a dinner party, how to behave on the Métro.

“It’s like a sport, you have to train hard,” said Marie de Tilly, a rail-thin expert on manners, who teaches a two-hour course in Paris to women who pay $90 to attend. “But once you train and know the rules, it all comes naturally.”

All can be lost in that first moment of acquaintance, Ms. de Tilly told a group of French and American women during a session last month in a hotel room adorned in brocade and silk.

“In the first 20 seconds, others will judge your look, in the second 20 seconds your behavior and the third 20 seconds your first words,” she said. “There is a code. If you don’t follow it properly, it will be very, very hard to make a comeback.”

For those of you who cannot get enough of manner-mania I found a book on Amazon to give you another dose on the subject.

Money, Morals, and Manners: The Culture of the French and the American Upper-Middle Class

French students!  Don't forget to try our Free French 3 course during January.  See the prior post of January 5th.


At 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that most of the country has come to the realization that the Iraq war is wrong... that makes the French right so we should stop picking on them.


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