How to Talk to A French Person

Ever been afraid of talking to a french person? Unsure how to approach the fact that because of their difference in culture, despite the fact that they might live in the U.S, your mannerism and speech should be drastically changed for them in order to not offend them or their culture in any way, shape or form? Ever wondered what the tips and tricks to be accepted or admitted by a french person were? Foreigners are a tricky thing, and interacting with them, even trickier. Well, fear not, as this guide will tell you the exact process for understanding and dealing with the french mind, its strengths, limitations, and the things to do and not to (ever do) in case of multicultural interaction.

First things first, never approach a french person head on. As we all know, french people tend to be rude, so even a simple greeting in english might kill your chances of interacting with them. No, to get the french person to like you, you have to greet them in their native language. But here’s the tricky part: you can’t obviously be of a different culture when doing so. What I mean by that is if your french isn’t at a near perfect speaking level, then you might as well forget doing this entire task altogether. Trying to sound french isn’t enough, you have to put in the time and the work. Plus, trying to sound french might offend them, as it is putting the “sound” of french people under only one stereotype, and although french does “sound” a certain way, a foreigner would – or should – not be able to tell which is the correct “way” for it to sound. Therefore, in order to acquire the correct level of french needed, I recommend taking the language throughout high school, in college, and making most of the media you consume in french, for about a couple of years, and living in france in total immersion for at least 6 years. If you’re still in the process, or worst, haven’t started, don’t engage in conversation.

Now, let’s imagine your greeting was successful. You’ve engaged the french person. This is the delicate part, as you are subjected to the most judgments and possible misunderstandings in the first minutes of the interaction. Know your surroundings. If you are in France, speaking english might offend them, as you are neglecting their native tongue in their own country, but speaking french might be delicate, as they could think you are neglecting their native tongue in their own country, with any slight pronunciation or grammar error that you make. The french language is a very complex one, and not investing all the time you possibly can into it, before speaking to a native, is highly offensive.

Let’s say, however, that you two are in the U.S. You are already engaged in delicate and elaborate small talk. What now? The rule of thumb is to never come across anything stolen from the french when in presence of a french person. I’ll illustrate this with an example. You have met a frenchman and have been talking while walking at the same time. In the corner of your eye, you notice a bakery. Without the frenchman noticing, walk slightly in front of them, while doing your best to identify the bakery before passing it. If the shop window contains croissants, turn around, as the sight of such traditional french breakfast food might cause the french person great offense. If, by mischance, the croissants happen to be stuffed, leave the interaction, as this is a clear theft, appropriation, and americanization of an iconic and natively french food, and the reaction of the frenchman might be too great for you to handle.

It’s important to note that the french person will always have an advantage in certain topics of conversation, and imperative for you to accept and respect this aspect of their culture. Because France have been around for a number of years, more than the U.S, a french person will automatically have a better legitimacy when it comes to certain subjects. It terms of food, the french person will have a better qualification to talk about it than the american person, as the ancestors of the french person have been creating different foods for longer than the ancestors of the american person. Although all ancestors, when looking deep enough, become detached from the person living and reading this paper right now, but possibly are attached emotionally to them, and that all people are linked together by common ancestors, it’s important to note that their national attachment links them to a culture that disregards anyone that has lived before or/and outside said culture. Following that logic, a french person will be linked more strongly to their french descent than an american to their possible spanish, african or chinese descent, just to name a few, and therefore will have a stronger basic legitimacy to base their qualification for an argument from. How should you go about it then? Well, if you think the french person might be more qualified than you to talk about a subject, not because of individual knowledge, but because of assumed stereotype of what that culture knows or does better, then don’t. Furthermore, if you didn’t hold that belief for a certain topic, but the french person informs you that it is the case, then abort talking about it, as the french person could be extremely offended if you begin appearing to be explaining that topic to them.

Now, let’s say you’ve executed all of those: you’re talking french perfectly, hidden the most blatant signs of cultural appropriation from the french person, and avoided (or let them speak and not dominate conversation) subjects for which they have a basic and higher qualification to talk about. Then what? At this point, it should be that you’ve made the french person your friend, and that it will stay that way for a while, as long as you make sure not to counter or discredit their beliefs. French people are known to be very rude and close minded, therefore, the slightest challenge in ideology could cost you the end of the interaction, and all that hard work on building a meaningful interaction would amount to nothing. Which raises the question once again: what now? You could take your friendship to the next level and propose to visit France with them, if the U.S is the setting you’ve been exercising in until now. First of all, if the french person agrees, you will have to pay for your plane ticket, but not theirs, as the french person could take this as negative judgment and microaggression on their social and economical status, which would immediately offend them and could kill off, there and then, your relationship with them.

Lastly, let’s approach fasion. French culture really does care about its appearance. Therefore, when comes to time for hanging out with a french person in France, make sure to wear appropriate and thought out clothing. Failure to do so could result in the french person faking not knowing you and screaming bloody murder into the streets before you could tap their shoulder to ask where they’d like to eat for lunch. There have even been cases where a french individual has genuinely failed to recognize their american friend because of lack of fashion of the latter, which has resulted in the american person getting lost in the French wasteland that is Saint-Dié-des-Vosges in northeastern France. Despite big lack of network connection, the entirety of the event was recorded on Snapchat, and the duo have since then been reunited.

There’s a lot that comes into befriending a foreign person, in this case, a french person. You cannot come in the interaction and expect the foreigner to accept you for who you are in your own culture, even if you end up interacting in the United States of America. The french is a sensible, yet fierce, attentive, yet cold creature, and they require a treatment different from your everyday casual encounters. That is why, to finish, I’d like to introduce another type of french person you might encounter. That person doesn’t care that much about the culture differences that you might or might not have with them. Apply the steps incorrectly, say “Bonjour” while accenting the N, or fail to hide that your country offers such things as ham and cheese croissants, and they might laugh for a bit or even want to try the latter. They might approach you head on, or would appreciate it if you do so, and would rarely, if ever, get offended by anything you tell them, as long as it’s told without malice. These are the most dangerous types of individuals. Do not ever interact with them. In case of overcoming one of their kind, turn around and walk away. The differences you hold are to be kept, but not cherished, exist, but whose existence should kept a shame, and such individual could go against all of this as well as the very foundation of all that this guide stands for.


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