Tim's Blog

Je suis non-Americain
Lqst zeekend zqs help the poor strqnded tourist zeekend in Frqnce. Despite zhqt you�ve been told, the French qre one of the most helpful qnd concerned people I�ve ever ,et. There qre of course exceptions. But by qnd lqrge it zqs q very pleqsqnt zeekend:

In fqct the ,ost trouble I�ve hqd is leqrning hoz to use French keyboqrds, zhich qs you cqn tell, I hqve yet to mqster.

Wait, I'm getting the hang of it. I have to glance at the keyboard every once in a while but I'm getting there.

I think the myth of the ugly Frenchman came about because of two things. The exotic French sense of humour that includes harmless sarcasm. For example as Laure motioned to a ticket conductor on a train to Paris, "Do you want my ticket?", he replied "That is what I live for." That was actually very funny. But I don't imagine that everyone will think so. If I had to take it on several occassions, I'd go shopping for an Uzi.

The second thing is the reception the French have been giving to the Americans. And the British. And they've been spreading the word. As far as the British are concerned, let's not go there. The enmity has always been there. They been countless wars between kings of both lands who sent hordes of tourists bearing arms instead of credit cards and did the usual tourist things of the day like pillage and rape. The French today don't think it's so different with the Americans. You should hear the venom in Laure's voice when she explained that the piped classical music heard throughout the immense royal gardens at Versailles is "for American tourists". Although she did agree later that the French kings did have piped music in their gardens played by orchestras of the best French musicians they could find. The inside joke in France is that the phrase for "stupid tourist" is "Americain".

I think the French hate the Americans because, unlike the British, they don't make as many concessions as foreigners when they're abroad. At least the British, like my landlady, tried to learn French before travelling. Most French actually have had English-language training in school, says Laure. But it is so rudimentary it's at a third-language level. And they become very self-conscious of it which manifests itself as arrogance when faced with stupid tourists.

Furthermore, the rolling American accent really grates on French ears. Or so they say.

So I quickly added this new phrase to my French phrasebook "Je suis non-Americain". I never had to use it because I don't look typically American.

(This is just an exerpt. I've been taking notes for a better and definitely more thoughtful story later. I can't really write when I'm on the move. Actually I might just ditch this entry later...)

posted at 09:04:43 PM on 06/11/2023 by timyang - Category: General


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