Friday, September 17, 2004

French stereotypes

Granted, I've only been here two weeks, but I think I've learned enough to confirm and dispell some stereotypes about the French.

1. The French are arrogant and rude.
Not any more than Americans. I think this stereotype came about because for most people it's hard to take a cold, hard look in the mirror. Americans, though varied and diverse, are mostly indifferent to people they don't know and don't have any reason to know. They tend to be reservedly friendly to people they meet in a social context, but sometimes someone is particularly warm or cold. Once a repore is established, Americans are very friendly. The same is true for the French.
Most French will allow you to speak French and only a few (like the guy I got my cell phone from) will treat you like an inferior if you speak poorly. On the whole, however, I've found that because many French speak more than one language they are more sympathetic to your battle with the language barrier than I would assume most Americans are.

2. The French smoke, drink wine and eat cheese.
Yup. But an unexpected added curiosity is that they love peaches. You can get peach-flavored anything. I had a peach-flavored beer the other night, good but weird.

3. The French love little yappy dogs.
This is only partly true. Many French own dogs, but they're not neccessarily little. Sometimes they can be very large, but they are almost always very furry. This love of dogs, however, is quite annoying considering that pooper-scoopers are not trendy. The streets are a landmine of doggy-doo and I only have the laws of probability to thank for not having yet stepped in some.

4. The French laugh like "onh hon hon" and say "oo-la-la."
They don't laugh like that, but I have heard them say oo-la-la. Only, instead of the high-pitched "oo-la-la!" we credit them with, it is often more of a deep sigh: "ho-luh-luh."

Those are all I can think of, let me know if there are others you'd like me to confirm or dispell.

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