Salut toute le monde - avec votre permission, je voudrais commencer une discussion ici en Anglais. Merci at tout!
... ahem. Sorry, would've started it in French if mine were good enough. I wanted to share this with you because several people are about to travel to Paris and I also thought that this would be an ideal oppurtunity to gain the perspective of those Frenchwomen and Parisians here. If this doesn't agree with you, we can always move this into the Aznlover Europe section.
[French] Conversation as a Dance of Drama
Even if you find a French person who speaks English to you, you'll want to know some of the rules of French conversation. Seek topics that will interest your listener and keep your commentary lively, animated, and brief. Don't turn a question into a lecture, holding the floor. It is rude to the other conversants, and it threatens to bore, the worst offence you can make.
Let the focus of the conversation move around to different topics. Each person should contribute little snatches of appropriate comment, tossing the conversation back and forth, like a ball. If you are asked where you come from, expect to hear something of the other person's experiences in that place or that country. You can reply with a question on an unrelated topic of interest, though some mental transition is usually involved. Inother words, THINK. And give your conversation partner the benefit of that effort!
Raymonde Carrol likens French converstation to a spider's web. A good one is made up of many different threads and angles, creating a beautiful and complex shape at its end. It is unncessary, in fact, undesirable, to seek a common pointof veiw with your interlocutors. To distinguish is an intellectual aim. To remark upon similarities is tnot so interesing. This is less difficult for the English, accustomed to the art of debate than it is for Americans who normally offer agreement just to be polite.
Interruptions are also perfectly acceptable in French conversation. One French conversant need only give the slightest pause for the other to cut in with his response. If you dont give a pause, your French interlocutor will probaby break in. That's not being rude, that's being participatory. Be witty, be funny. The rapidity of the interruptions and even the volume of the exchange may increase as the conversants get more excited... like a dance that get faster and faster.
A lively conversation is a successful interaction. As intensity builds, punctuations of loud laughter and even explosion of anger may occur. Don't be alarmed. Drama is part of the debate, and the quest is only for a better understanding of the topics covered and a deeper rspect for the intelligence of the indivisual players involved. A frenzy of disagreement may suddenly collapse into a new subject, the pace changed, the players move on.
What do you think about these?
Some more - this time pertinent to Asians in a sense:
Whatever you talk about, remember to moderate your voice! Talking at normal volume in a shop or restaurant with friends, the patron or anybody else, will disturb others and will be considered very rude. In a small French restaurtnt, where the tables are squezed tightly together, anything approaching nomral volume is too loud. The French love to talk, but they are extremely courtous of other people's desire to do so in public places. Speak as though no one but your interlocutor should be aware you are speaking.
We have all been embarrassed by our fellow [U.S.] countrymen speaking too loudly, especailly if they are in a large group. We are all guilty of this. Having one or more of your own countrymen along with you anywhere puts oyu into a little cultural "Bubble" of your own. Sudeenly the rules of your own society apply, not thsoe of the culture around you.
Groups of tourists are consipcuous and usually unattractiev everwhere because of the culture insulation their numbers provide. Try to remember that the French speak very softly in public palces, much lower than they would at home, as a consideration to others. Moderate your voice. That is the golden rule of converatsion in France.
More to come....