French Etiquette

Old Feb 12th, 2005, 03:41 PM
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When and how did we Americans lose that "i" in aluminium, anyway?

Tedgale: I guess the reason I hear "Bonjour Mesdames-'ssieurs all the time is I'm a country bumpkin most of the time in France, hanging out in the old cafés and bars where the farmers do. And I agree upon reflection that it's more of an announcement of "I'm here" than a more polite social convention. Come to think of it, I've rarely heard it in Paris or other big city.
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 04:24 PM
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St Cirq wrote : "Um, tegdale,what Do you say? I've been in countless cafés/bars where the regulars came in and said exactly that!I'm really curious"

St Cirq, I think the important word here is "regulars". I too say "bonjour/au-revoir messieurs dames" in small cafes where I'm a regular and know the owner and the patrons. I don't when I enter in a random cafe where I don't know anybody, nor in large cafes where there are plenty of people.


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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 04:33 PM
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St Cirq quot;I guess the reason I hear "Bonjour Mesdames-'ssieurs all the time is I'm a country bumpkin most of the time in France, hanging out in the old cafés and bars where the farmers do"

Definitely. In small villages, the norm is to greet everybody you meet, anyway, even complete strangers. So, a general "bonjour messieurs dames" at the local cafe isn't out of place at all.
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 06:41 PM
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Here in the Cher River valley, in Saint-Aignan and other little towns, you nod and quietly say "...messieurs-dames" when you enter a shop (boulangerie, boucherie, charcuterie) and see people standing in line. The Bonjour is optional.

It's not an announcement that you have arrived, but an acknowledgment that you are not alone in the shop. Then you say Bonjour Madame or Monsieur to the person who waits on you.
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 07:26 PM
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By the time I made my first trip to France, I knew (from hours and hours spent on Fodors) to say Bonjour before trying to communicate with a local. I made sure to do so and always found the French to be very receptive. However, on my last trip, I got the flu on my last day in Paris, and upon arrival at the airport for the flight home, I had chills and a fever, and all I could think about was getting something cold to drink because I was so dehydrated. I walked up to a food and drink vendor and blurted out "Can I have two 7-Ups?" The dear man behind the counter, instead of showing displeasure with my obvious lack of manners, without missing a beat, gave me a huge smile and said "Bonjour, Madame". Well, that made me feel about two inches tall, and I apologized profusely, hoping for some sympathy for my condition. Thankfully, he was very understanding, and because of that incident, I think I'll always remember my manners in the future.
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 08:33 PM
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I have to add to the comment of thingorjus about wrists/hands on the table.

At a dinner in a French home, at which I was really trying to make an impression, I was eating "American" with one hand planted firmly in my lap. Our host, obvioulsly trying to test the newcomer, looked at me and asked, "What are you doing with that hand, playing with yourself?"

I had just enough French to look him in the eye and say, "No, with your wife."

The table roared with laughter, and I had passed the test.
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Old Feb 12th, 2005, 08:38 PM
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machin
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I read that same story somewhere else twice, published, Was that really you?
 
Old Feb 12th, 2005, 10:34 PM
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Harzer,

I ask for my "doggie bag" in fractured French because that helps to elicit pity. Americans are not supposed to get it right! Some time ago, in the 1980s, I was in a key shop doing business and the fellow behind the counter said, "You speak French just like you learned it from a book." Exactly!
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 01:29 AM
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Dialog first with the other customers in the shop and then with the young woman at the boulangerie this morning:

... messieurs-dames...
... monsieur...

Bonjour Monsieur.
Bonjour Mademoiselle.
Qu'est-ce qu'il vous faut?
Une baguette, s'il vous plaît.
Voilà, monsieur. Soixante-treize centimes.
Merci, mademoiselle.
C'est moi qui vous remercie, monsieur.
Au revoir, mademoiselle.
Au revoir, monsieur. Et bon dimanche.
Merci, oui, bon dimanche. Au revoir, messieurs-dames.
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 03:49 AM
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Ken,

Can I offer you some fractured French lessons?
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 03:55 AM
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Dave, no thanks. It has taken me more than 40 years to get to this stage, and I'm doing OK. Though it does come in handy sometimes to speak a little pidgin French... Keeps them on their toes.
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 04:02 AM
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I've certainly heard people in Paris saying Messieurs-dames bonjour (with that word order), though never in restaurants or bars. The place I heard it most often was in the waiting room at the doctor's surgery, almost exclusively from the mouths of older people (never heard it from anyone who looked under 50).
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 04:20 AM
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>...the French word is, as in all civilized cultures, 'aluminIum'.<

I call your attention to
http://pearl1.lanl.gov/periodic/elements/13.html

The element was named aluminum.

>When and how did we Americans lose that "i" in aluminium, anyway?<

It is not we who lost an I, StCirq, it is they who added one.


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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 09:11 AM
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Ken,

That phrasing may shake loose a baguette now and then, but I'll bet it's not bad enough to get you a sack of bread dough to go!
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 09:14 AM
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When I lived in Paris all those years ago, I used to buy bread dough at the boulangerie so I could make my own pizzas at home. Same dialogue...
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 09:29 AM
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Well then, I'm off to Alliance Francaise.
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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 09:41 AM
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Wait! No! Ken: You PAID for your bread dough?










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Old Feb 13th, 2005, 09:47 AM
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What, do they give the stuff away now? Times have changed. There must be a bread dough surplus in Paris.
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