Author Topic: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France  (Read 1879 times)

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BabylonSister

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Re: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2013, 10:41:39 AM »
if she does speak to someone in french, she is supposed to use the "vous" pronoun and not "tu"
(I've never been to france but my french prof in university was very clear on that - claimed that wars have been known to start if someone is approached in the "tu" instead of "vous"!)


True, but there is also a certain level of tolerance for people who are obviously struggling with the language.  It's better however to always use "vous" unless the person suggests otherwise.  It's fine to address children as "tu".

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2013, 10:54:04 AM »
The extent of my French is pretty much Hello, Good-bye, Please, Thank You, Where is the Bathroom? and I don't speak French; Do you speak English?

(Bonjour, Au Revoir, Sil-vous-plait, Merci, Ou est le salle de bain? and Je ne parle pas le Francais; vous parlez Anglais?)

I don't have experience with France (but I might in 2014 - a friend might be moving there for a year; her husband works for Disney and is involved in the installation of a new ride(s) at Euro Disney) but do have experience with Quebec.  I've found, even in the most French areas, that if you greet someone in French, let them know you don't actually speak it and ask if they could speak in English, almost everyone will switch to English, if they can.
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Winterlight

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Re: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2013, 12:01:49 PM »
Check your local public library for language materials. A number of them have CDs, and some have online programs like Rosetta Stone.

Also look at this link for free and low-cost ways to learn- http://www.wisebread.com/5-ways-to-learn-a-language
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To whom you speak,
Of whom you speak,
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BabylonSister

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Re: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2013, 01:04:32 PM »
[...]Ou est le salle de bain?[...]


If you mean the restroom, it should be "Où sont les toilettes?". "Salle de bain" is the bathroom but in most French houses, it's separate from the restroom.

Outdoor Girl

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Re: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2013, 01:08:57 PM »
[...]Ou est le salle de bain?[...]


If you mean the restroom, it should be "Où sont les toilettes?". "Salle de bain" is the bathroom but in most French houses, it's separate from the restroom.

Might be one of the many differences between Parisian French and Quebecois French.  I'll keep it in mind if I do end up there in the spring of 2014
I have CDO.  It is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order, as they should be.
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AfleetAlex

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Re: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France
« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2013, 02:11:38 PM »
Some friends and I went to Paris this past June and found everyone to be very friendly and, when they could tell I was hurriedly translating from French to English in my head (usually numbers!), would kindly switch to English. I always tried to be very polite.

I used the Coffee Break French free podcasts to brush up on the language (which I had taken in high school). That was pretty helpful as each 20-min podcast is on a certain topic - i.e. ordering in a restaurant, going to the grocery store, etc.

Other things worth noting: There are lots of signs in Paris about pickpockets. I wore a sturdy cross-body purse and had no trouble. And I think we overtipped a lot since as Americans we're used to tipping more than some countries do, but I consider that erring on the side of being a better tourist.  :D
And the food was TERRIFIC!
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Only me

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Re: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France
« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2013, 02:20:46 PM »
I have lots of experience with french. I agre with Winterlight and AfleetAlex, who state get something where you can listen to the langauge, not just try to read it.

When I was in France I was treated really well and as long as you were friendly to them, they were mostly friendly to you.
When shopping say hi or greet the owner/worker or they will think you are rude.
When speaking use Vous tense for everything, Tu is really person even in todays society for them.
There are lots of people that speak english there, even if its another tourist.
yes pick pockets can be bad but if you or her are worried, have her try pacsafe purses or wallets (check it out online). At bit expense but I don't travel without mine.

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jpcher

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Re: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France
« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2013, 06:04:01 PM »
This is really great information -- please keep it coming! ;D

She doesn't have a smart phone (I refuse to pay for that service) but she does have an ipad -- are the smart phone apps that were mentioned the same for an ipad?

We will get to the library and see what CDs they have, I think that you all are right, hearing the phrase pronounced correctly is important.

I found this site: http://translate.google.com/#fr/en/bonjour%2C%20excusez%20moi%2C%20pouvez-vous%20m%27aider%3F%20-%20parlez-vous%20anglais

and am curious as to how correct the pronunciation is?

I typed in the first few phrases that Carotte provided "bonjour, excusez moi, pouvez-vous m'aider? - parlez-vous anglais"

Would someone please check this out (the English version sounded pretty accurate) . . . I thought this might be a good start for the simple phrases.


I didn't think that there would be much difference etiquette-wise between France and US, but I really appreciate the heads up on greeting shop-owners as being an important thing to do! ;D


Thank you for your help. :)

BabylonSister

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Re: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France
« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2013, 06:30:39 PM »
The pronunciation of the words is correct but the phrase intonation is wrong.  The tone is supposed to go up on the last word for a question (otherwise it goes down.)

AuntieA

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Re: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France
« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2013, 02:23:44 AM »
Even though I have a solid grounding in French from the convent school when I was young, I would never venture out, especially when shopping, without a cross-language dictionary. Really helpful when you're looking for specific spices, medications, and first aid supplies. I have one on my Palm TX, but I also carry a pocket-sized one.
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sparksals

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Re: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France
« Reply #25 on: January 16, 2013, 12:33:56 PM »
if she does speak to someone in french, she is supposed to use the "vous" pronoun and not "tu"
(I've never been to france but my french prof in university was very clear on that - claimed that wars have been known to start if someone is approached in the "tu" instead of "vous"!)


True, but there is also a certain level of tolerance for people who are obviously struggling with the language.  It's better however to always use "vous" unless the person suggests otherwise.  It's fine to address children as "tu".

Agreed.  In my experience being in France twice, most recently in Sept, as long as one makes the attempt to speak the language, they are happy with that.  They don't turn into grammar police, nor do they get offended by the wrong pronoun.   Greeting the shopkeeper upon entry with a cheerful 'bonjour' goes a long way.   They can tell 99% of the time that French is not your first language and many times answer in english. 

sparksals

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Re: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France
« Reply #26 on: January 16, 2013, 12:37:55 PM »
Some friends and I went to Paris this past June and found everyone to be very friendly and, when they could tell I was hurriedly translating from French to English in my head (usually numbers!), would kindly switch to English. I always tried to be very polite.

I used the Coffee Break French free podcasts to brush up on the language (which I had taken in high school). That was pretty helpful as each 20-min podcast is on a certain topic - i.e. ordering in a restaurant, going to the grocery store, etc.

Other things worth noting: There are lots of signs in Paris about pickpockets. I wore a sturdy cross-body purse and had no trouble. And I think we overtipped a lot since as Americans we're used to tipping more than some countries do, but I consider that erring on the side of being a better tourist.  :D
And the food was TERRIFIC!

The pickpockets are especially in full force at Notre Dam and the Metro.  Don't fall for people coming up to beg.  We were at the Eiffel Tower, was approached by a Gypsy (they are well known there for being at tourist places and the metro pickpocketing) and my husband said "no speak english' and they walked away.  LOL  Always hold the cross body bag in front of you in close quarters and crowded areas.

Tea Drinker

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Re: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France
« Reply #27 on: January 16, 2013, 03:21:49 PM »
I found that starting with "Bonjour, madame/monsieur, parlez-vous anglais?" worked pretty well even when the answer was "non." With that opening, a shopkeeper was willing to sell me lip gloss and eyeglass-cleaning cloths entirely by gestures, and people generally put up with my complete lack of verbs. (Many simple transactions can be done almost entirely with nouns, please, thank you, yes, and no, and if necessary reading the price off product labels or the cash register.)
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Jocelyn

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Re: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France
« Reply #28 on: January 16, 2013, 11:49:59 PM »
I tried memorizing simple phrases in German before going to Germany, and previous posters have given all the ones I used. But what I really needed, and hadn't planned on, was numbers. In Germany, and, I believe, in France, you give your hotel room key to the desk clerk when you go out. I realized, when I came back, that I had no idea of how to ask for my key.  ::) The funny part was, I was there with a cousin, and both of us spoke French but not German, and we both found ourselves trying to explain ourselves in French! It was as if we realized that English wouldn't work, so our brains were supplying anything that might work. Unfortunately, the hotel desk clerks didn't speak French, either. I was often reduced to writing the number on the surface of the desk using my finger. Finally, the clerks just took pity on us and would pull our keys out and lay them on the desk when they saw us coming. :) (the keys had the numbers written on them, so we could pick out own keys out).

Louie_LI

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Re: Learning French . . . aka how to be etiquettely correct when in France
« Reply #29 on: January 18, 2013, 12:09:25 PM »

We sadly don't have much in term of drinkable water access outside so keeping a bottle of water is good, and filling it up whenever they can (inside museums for example, behind the public bathrooms ( they're free, the water is outside, on the other side of the entrance, and can be pretty easy to miss).)

Did you know that all of the Wallace fountains provide drinking water:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallace_fountain

Speaking of food:

A café serves coffee (always espresso), tea, juice and soft drinks.  No food except little snacks.
A café-bar serves the same plus alcohol.
A brasserie serves beer and other drinks and very simple food.
A salon de thé serves tea and other hot drinks and pastries.

I don't think your first definition exists anymore! All the cafés I know sell alcohol as well as soft drinks. Some serve food, some don't. The line between café, brasserie and restaurant has become quite blurred over the past years.

I agree that greeting the shopkeeper is very important.

Tipping is not a percentage. Most people just round up a euro or two. There are occasional reports of dishonest waiters trying to convince tourists that the tip is not included. In a way they are correct: the service charge is included, any *small* tip on top of that is not. An additional tip is not required and, while waiters don't make millions, they don't work for below minimum wage, either.

It's not rude to place your bread on the table (don't expect a bread plate).

When you want the check, ask for it (it is rude for the waiter to bring it before you ask for it).