French in France - "Tu" or "Vous"?

Jun 22nd, 2012, 01:21 AM
  #21  
 
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I think you should certainly address in "vous" in France, unless it is someone you have gotten to know well. It is a sign of politeness in that country.

I guess in it is the same in Italy when you use "Lei" instead of tu".

During any converstion, when the people you are conversing with change from the "polite" form to the "friendly" form or if they specifically tell you themselves, then do so.

I would certainly not address anyone in France that I am not really acquainted with with "tu" (unless they were little kids). For them it is downright rude.

You are absolutely right nytraveller - many doctors, including those with Phds, or managers etc would expect to be called with their titles of Dr or Professor or Mr or whatever in Europe, even after one would haveworked with them for many years. Many would never ask you to start calling them by their first names, I guess that for them this is a sign that you are showing them respect or because they enjoy their higher status, lol.
Anna_Galea is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 01:24 AM
  #22  
 
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Visitors should not even be asking such a question. We are all vous to you. ;-)
kerouac is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 02:23 AM
  #23  
 
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Right on, Kerouac. But I also think Palenque should not make the mistake of taking one person's opinion for 'they way they do things there.' It's like asking anyone from a different country how things are done. You get their opinion, which is not always wrong - or right - but it still mainly an opinion.

We always vouvoie until asked to do differently, or until someone tutoies us. (One of our closest neighbours, and friends, has used tu for a very long time, and we reciprocate. But we still vous her husband.)

Just to throw something else into the mix. After we had lived here for a few years I was congratulated on my very good French by an older neighbour, because I used 'nous' rather than 'on'. I hadn't really absorbed the fact that most of my friends were saying 'on sort ce soir,' for example, rather than 'nous sortons ce soir' Now we hardly ever use 'nous'. Again something that a visitor to France doesn't have to worry about, however.
Carlux is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 03:25 AM
  #24  
ira
 
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Hi Chris,

>Some young people immediately tutoie me and I'm not crazy about it when I don't know them. <

It's part of the generally lessening of standards.

In the US, they address everyone by their first names.
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Hi nyt

>I have found the americans almost always say "call me X" after the first time I address than as Dr. Z...... Just a difference in level of formality.<

It is a false familiarity. It stems from politicos, eg, Bobby Kennedy (whose friends and family called Robert) who want to look like one of the folks.
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HI ldt,

>... do the French think it rude....<

As Prof Higgins pointed out, "The French don't care what they say, actually, as long as they pronounce it properly".
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>I usually suppress my inner curmudgeon.

Not a healthy thing to do, Flan. It causes elevated blood pressure. Worse, it encourages the improper behavior that cause the elevated blood pressure.
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Hi AG,

>I guess that for them this is a sign that you are showing them respect or because they enjoy their higher status, lol.<

You are correct about the first part.

The false familiarity that some Americans use (The Chancellor of out University System would say, "Just call me Johnny") is a trap. It allows them to address you, improperly, by your first name.


"Just call me Johnny".
"Yes, Dr Smith".
ira is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 04:29 AM
  #25  
 
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Merci à vous tous.......
MarnieWDC is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 05:07 AM
  #26  
 
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Waiters in France sometimes use "tu" to annoying patrons for the satisfaction of insulting them without their being aware of it. Better than spitting in the food, perhaps.

Different countries and even regions have their own styles on honorifics.

When I went South to get my Ph.D., one of my [Northern] professors told me, "They'll "doctor" you to death down there." It was true. At my undergraduate university, all the faculty were called "mister" (yes, it was a men's college and I never heard of a woman faculty member) on the assumption that of course _everyone_ was a Ph.D.

In the UK, surgeons used to be called "mister" and physicians "doctor", but I don't know if that is still true.

I still use "dottore" or "doktor" in European countries where they care a lot about that sort of thing.
Ackislander is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 05:32 AM
  #27  
 
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I haven't used tu since high school, nobody to say it to.

It strikes me as very odd that some native English speakers on this thread have said they are not happy to be addressed as tu by someone they don't know in France. At home, the same people would probably be using your first name. Frankly, I can't think of anybody I would prefer to call me by my last name, whether at home or abroad, except perhaps in court, and it's a long time since I've gone to court. This is reflected in my screen name, I suppose.

My only objection to being tutoied would be that I would have only the foggiest notion of how to respond (see above).

"Visitors should not even be asking such a question. We are all vous to you."

In that case, kerouac, if ever we meet, it's a good thing we'll be speaking English.
Nikki is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 05:37 AM
  #28  
 
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I once said to a young Indian call centre employee, "would you like a stranger to address your mother as Indira or whatever her name is." He was extremely apologetic.
Yes, I would always use the formal form of you in any language unless specifically asked not to.
MissPrism is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 05:59 AM
  #29  
 
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I'm surprised that the thread has got this far without anybody mentioning that there is a generational difference in French usage. We were visiting a French family, accompanied by our them 19 year old daughter, when our host's daughter of about the same age came in. She had never met us before, but opened conversation with my daughter "Comment tu t'appelles?".
Padraig is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 06:06 AM
  #30  
 
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It's not as generational as you might think -- just compare the usage of small town French teens with that of teens from Neuilly or the 16th arrondissement in Paris.
kerouac is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 06:38 AM
  #31  
 
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So social class matters more than age - at least in places like Neuilly? I'm not surprised.

I was aware that there are regional differences, although I am not conversant with the details. Most of the French people we know socially are Breton (some of whom would not want to be described as French): they consistently say that that Bretons use "tu" more readily than people elsewhere in France
Padraig is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 06:46 AM
  #32  
 
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"I'm surprised that the thread has got this far without anybody mentioning that there is a generational difference in French usage".

Too bad you didn't read my post
Pvoyageuse is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 07:32 AM
  #33  
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Right on, Kerouac. But I also think Palenque should not make the mistake of taking one person's opinion for 'they way they do things there.' It's like asking anyone from a different country how things are done. You get their opinion, which is not always wrong - or right - but it still mainly an opinion>

Good point and if you re-read my OP I I was really asking the question "has the tu and vous situation changed and I quoted my friend that in her opinion it has not - the thread has turned into other interesting discussions but the question I am posing is "is the tu and vous situation changing in daily use in France - it seems not - but that was the question.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 12:04 PM
  #34  
 
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It is always better to err on the side of caution.

Another reason not to tutoyer indiscriminately -- do you really want that much familiarity with that person?
toupary6 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 12:22 PM
  #35  
 
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Oh how I hate it in countries where people call me by my first name (just because they saw my first name on a form or a screen) when I have not invited them to do so. Yet I will admit that it is an aspect of one's personality and upbringing since lots of other people love this sort of thing.

I have mentioned in the past that variations of the use of "tu" and "vous" are nearly infinite -- and often contradictory, so I well understand why outsiders are confused. During my professional career, for example, I have used "tu" with close colleagues, but also with more distant ones (without being invited) just to show that I do not consider them to be superior to me in any way. And yet I have also used "vous" with other colleagues that I do not consider to be superior to me in any way with the added nuance "we will never be close - don't even try - I don't trust you."

As I approach the end of my working years, now I find myself dismayed that I can say "tu" to every single person in the company if I feel like it and it is perfectly accepted, but many of my younger colleagues (except the close ones) always say "vous" to me, which I interpret to mean "you are old and I must show respect."
kerouac is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 12:28 PM
  #36  
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Kerouac - so is the thing changing in general or just with you as you age, like a fine wine I may add. The Q is the tu and vous thing changing in the general population or is it the same, as my French friend adamantly claims? Qu'est-ce que TU pense or qu'est-ce que VOUS pense?

and it seems odd but if there are more than one dear friends together do you say Tu to both of them or do you say the plural vous - does Tu have a plural, like Tus?
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 12:59 PM
  #37  
 
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If you're talking to more than one person, it doesn't matter how you'd address them individually - you use vous because you're talking to more than one!

And no, tu doesn't have a plural. How would that make sense (unless you were forming some weird thought like "all of you little yous out there")?
StCirq is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 01:03 PM
  #38  
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So with two folks at once you cannot make the tu-vous distinction? that is what I thought and it don't make much sense that you cannot say a collective 'tu' when talking to two dear friends. But that is the language, I understand.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2012, 01:11 PM
  #39  
 
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Nice post, kerouac. Interesting the way you use "tu" and "vous" with your colleagues.

I grew up learning old-fashioned French and was told that one may never use "tu" until invited, as in "Vous me pouvez tutoyer" so that's the way I'll be using "tu" and "vous" till the end of my days.
easytraveler is offline  
Jun 25th, 2012, 10:39 AM
  #40  
 
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And no, tu doesn't have a plural. How would that make sense (unless you were forming some weird thought like "all of you little yous out there")?>>

in German [and italian, come to that] there is a plural equivalent of "tu" which you would use for example in addressing more than one member of your family, or a number of friends. not weird at all!
annhig is offline  

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