Fog over the Channel
The French and the English are a bit like Tom and Jerry. Some kind of a cat and dog love/hate relationship. We're complementary. Forever bickering, but basically very fond of each other. I would like to take the opportunity of tonight's France vs. England Six Nations Championship game to share the funny side of some cultural misunderstandings between “Rosbifs” and “Froggies”.
How many kisses?
“La bise” (kiss on the cheek) is one typical French greeting custom that apparently many foreigners — not just Britons — find rather shocking. You just try kissing a Japanese!
The Candlemas's massacre
A French expat made a whopping pile of “crêpes” for his British colleagues on Candlemas (another French tradition) which they sliced as if it was a sponge cake. Appealed French newspaper Libération called them “barbarians”. The shocking picture below went viral on social media, making over 900.000 views.
However, English barbarism is arguably relative. Actually, aren't we the ones who translate “a piece of cake” into “fingers in the nose”, make cheese (tout un fromage) out of a storm in a cup of tea or wallow into apples while the Brits just pass out? Even more vulgar is when an Englishman wears a high hat, a French man farts higher than his a... permits. Honestly, who's calling the kettle black?
Many French people report being served neon-coloured jelly or green peas the size (and hardness) of marbles on their first school trip to England. Below is a scene from Les Grandes Vacances (Summer Vacation), exaggerating the way English cuisine is perceived over here. On the menu: oysters in milk soup, haddock with tangerines, cherries and mint mayonnaise, and roast beef in whipped cream. “Délicieux, delicious! Come on, eat son!” Sorry, no subtitles available but just look at their faces.
The ten plagues of the French langage
Knowing how hard it is already for many French natives to master their own mother tongue, I can only sympathise with foreigners learning French. Here is what British people find hardest about French:
- The use of “être” and “avoir”.
- Irregular verbs.
- Accents (for instance “réserve” doesn't mean the same as “réservé”).
- Numbers (why French people say “soixante-dix” for 70 instead of “septante” as they do in Belgium, Switzerland and Quebec?).
- False friends (words existing in English but with a different meaning).
- “Vous” and “tu” instead of just you.
- Formal writing.
- Genres (why do objects have to be either masculine or feminine?).
- Pronunciation (laughing at themselves, English people say they “tend to sound like a piece of food has gone down the wrong way when it comes to pronouncing any French word with R in” and also have trouble with U's, nasal vowels and silent letters).
The hardest word
For us Frenchies, loosing our keys is annoying but we may still call a locksmith. However it might be quite a nightmare for an English speaker in France to do the same thing as their tongue might get entangled. SER-RU-RE-RIE!
The Atlantic Wall
Finally, here is a trailer of what I deem to be the best example of French-English relationships. The following comedy is a great French classic I shall never grow tired of watching over and over again. Too bad I couldn't find a subtitled clip but I hope you enjoy the pictures anyway.
Roughly, it's the story of a French house painter (who incidentally used to be a chef in London) living with his bar-tender sister and his grown-up daughter in occupied France. While he accidentally brings back some ultra-secret German military papers, the local resistance hears about it and sends him to England with a downed RAF pilot hiding under his very own roof. In London, he is trained as a war spy before being parachuted back to France where he finds out his daughter just had the English airman's baby.
France-England: my heart sways between the two (only natural for someone born under the sign of the Scales), so whoever wins tonight's game (which I won't be watching as rugby definitely isn't “my mug”), remember that it's only a game. So may the “turnwheel” turn as would say French footballer Franck Ribéry (quoted from a collection of hilarious blunders by football players, coaches and sportscasters, all featured in an article I wrote during World Cup 2014 in Brazil which I'm afraid is virtually impossible to translate in English).
Tags: society, culture, eyael, language
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