How can you tell an American from a Frenchman?
Make him count 1,2,3,4,… : the American will start with the little finger and end with the thumb, the Frenchman just the opposite.
Make him walk : the American will move his arms and take a lot of space, the Frenchman will be much stiffer.
Make him hug : the American will look as if he was afraid of bad breath, stay as far as possible and give big hits on the back of the other person ; the Frenchman , like the Spanish with his abrazo, will actually TOUCH the body of the other person and act as if he was enjoying it
Put him in an elevator : the American will talk (the French will try to avoid any eye contact)
Make him (and particularly, make her) laugh and hear and see the difference in the level of noise and in muscular activity…
Make him say “everything is OK” : he will form a circle joining thumb and index (in French, this gesture means : “zero”)
Enjoy a meal with him : he will put his bread on his plate (the French put it on the table) ans his hands on his thighs (the French put them on the table)
Why do the French seem rude even when they’re not ?
Body language and intonation. French body language is very expressive. There’s some physical gesture for almost any emotion and when the emotion is exasperation or anger, it shows even when there are no words. French intonation, to a non-French speaking person, makes the French sound angry even when two Frenchmen are only discussing the World Cup or the latest Social Security reform or the taste of Paris tap water. This simple fact explains most American anecdotes about the French being rude with them.
Solution : 1. Learn French Body Language 2. Learn French !
DID YOU KNOW THAT ….? The French touch each other a lot ! According to a study quoted by Le Figaro Madame (May 3, 2003) a study on heterosexual couples seated at a terrace established the number of contacts at 110 per half-hour as compared to 2 for Americans ! Look how ex President Sarkozy behaves, always touching the shoulder, the neck, the arm of the people he is talking to…