Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Are We Intimate? Tu or Vous?

Fotolia_306997_S.jpg


In the US, we don't like to consider that question, at least not in any formal way. We all just kind of mosey along and don't get too deep about anything. Call it a state of non-analysis. We like it that way. Oh, we Yanks work together all right like everybody else and we have friendships and neighbors and normal social relations with our fellow Yanks and Yankettes. But we don't have special terms of address for really good friends and really not good friends. You know? "Dude" works fine for us. "Hey you" isn't so bad either. I think we do a lot of head nodding. We don't start going to the shrink unless we hear voices.

But en francais, you have to decide whenever you talk to somebody whether to address them with the informal "tu" or the more stately "vous."
Now maybe it's not as demarcated as I am making it out to be. I am deathly afraid of offending someone.
"Comment allez-vous?" means "how are you."
"Comment vas-tu?" means the same thing, but to someone you are close to.

But how close?
How are you, baby, gosh last night was great.
Oops, I mean how are you, monsieur, it is certainly fair weather. I am not looking at your zipper.

This is bothering more than it should.
What if I mess up and call the subway ticket taker "tu" by mistake? What if he thinks I am hitting on him? What if he thinks I am trying to sell him insurance and get invited for dinner at his mother's? How will I get out of it?

That is my biggest worry. But second biggest is how similar all the different words sound. For instance, "it is snowing"
'Paris
sounds almost exactly the same as "he is swimming."

image of man swimming laps
I guess there is no way I could get in trouble by interchanging those two, but still, you can't be too careful.

IS IT SNOWING?
YES.
OH GOOD. I TOOK LESSONS AT THE "Y", BUT NEVER MASTERED THE BREAST STROKE THE WAY I SHOULD.
I THOUGHT YOU SAID IT WAS SNOWING.
I DID.
WHY ARE YOU WEARING A BATHING SUIT?
WHY ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT MY BREAST? I DIDN'T CALL YOU "TU", DID I?

I am now on Level Two, Unit Two of Rosetta Stone. Kiss my neige!!!
I am also reading Ernest Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. It is fascinating and heartrending. I love reading about how he worked so hard on his writing and how in love he was with Hadley, his first wife.
A bientot
love,
becky
http://www.statcounter.com/

7 Comments:

At 8:18 PM , Blogger G-honey said...

Hello From Korea~~

I hope all is well with you!
It's such a delight to drop by your blog - even from all the way here.

This entry reminded me of the book "Me talk pretty one day" by David Sedaris. It's about his learning French when he first moved there with his lover - really funny tale of him buying things in bulks to avoid having to assign gender to words...( I don't know, but apparently every French word gets a gender assigned, but not when it's plural.../)

I think you will enjoy it...if you haven't read it already!

Jihyon

 
At 8:46 PM , Blogger Becky Motew said...

Are you really in Korea? Wow!!!! I have read David Sedaris but not that one. He is great and I am a huge fan of his sister, Amy. That's his sister, isn't it?

b

 
At 11:01 PM , Blogger sandman1 said...

I'm so glad someone knew the Sedaris reference and recommended it. I'd been thinking of it for a while too but wasn't sure of the author and definitely forgot the title. I'm not well read, but in this case when I was in Paris my cousin had brought it along in audio-book form (read by Sedaris -- downloaded to iPod) and we listened to some of it while we were there. Really laugh-out-loud good and I'm sure you'll get even more out of it with all the deeper study of the language.

As for the ticket-taker's mother, just call her 'tu' and she'll put you right out with the rest of the hussies -- problem solved! But maybe wait until after the salad so you don't go hungry...

 
At 4:09 PM , Blogger Becky Motew said...

Hussy is my category, sm!!!! I have got to find this Sedaris essay. It sounds great.

b

 
At 7:10 PM , Blogger G-honey said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7:13 PM , Blogger G-honey said...

hhh
Yes, I am really in Korea - it was an experimental thing - and now is turning into a career move thing.

I was teaching English to Korean kids - teaching part I loved, but the institution was treating the foreigners like dirt...talk about being mistreated in one's own mother land...hhh

so I decided to do something worth a while that can build up my career as well when I return to the States (not sure when yet)

Now, I am working for Philips Electronics Korea.hhh

Would you like any triple bladed, double sided, triple bonded titanium blade that is 'be-careful-it-may-cut-off-your-head' sharp...Philips shaver ZX2008?

Apparently, US astronauts only use this to shave in space...while the Russians just use the disposable kind...hhh

 
At 11:54 PM , Blogger Becky Motew said...

Well gee, gee-honey, we'll miss you here and watch out for all the blades. Ahem.

love,b

 

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