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Thread: French phrases and ways! Numéro Un

  1. #1
    pascaleschmidt is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2008 NYC, Nice Posts: 1,494

    French phrases and ways! Numéro Un

    Tim, our fearless leader, kindly requested I post a French phrase or culturally relevant item each Friday. This could be fun and help some learn more French or the ways around a Francophile world!
    I am French, live in the US, but am always reminded on my trips to St Barts and any Francophile location to say:"bonjour" very loudly when I enter a store and when I forget, the individual in the establishment will quickly remind me with a "Bonjour Madame". And of course as I exit , a loud:"au revoir. Bonne journée !" Is my reply. (Au revoir: see you!)( bonne journée: good day! )
    Simplistic but quintessential. Makes for good diplomacy!

  2. #2
    andynap is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Philadelphia Posts: 43,737
    Merci. See I learned already :). I always speak the common greetings in French and always SVP when asking for the check in a restaurant. Good idea tho. The hardest part is the pronunciation- hard to do in print.


    Andy

  3. #3
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 51,701
    Quote Originally Posted by andynap View Post
    The hardest part is the pronunciation- hard to do in print.
    Install the Google Translate Tab and "she" will speak any word "she" translated.

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  4. #4
    tim is offline
    Moderator Joined: Jun 2003 Vélo, Virginia Posts: 16,823
    Pascale,

    Thank you for agreeing to help educate the forum! I've also noticed that saying "bonjour" is used when entering places of business such as banks, post offices, etc.
    The best moderation is the least moderation.

  5. #5
    NHDiane is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Aug 2003 New Hampshire Posts: 6,937
    This is what we do as well, bonjour on entering and then quickly followed by a "good morning/afternoon" in English so they know that I do not speak French. Same for leaving . It just sets the tone and is always appreciated.
    Emma Peel: I suppose Mother warned you about women like me?
    John Steed: Until now, I didn't know there were women like you.

  6. #6
    andynap is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2002 Philadelphia Posts: 43,737
    Thank you- I have Google Translate on all machines. My problem is forgetting what I heard in 10 minutes. :)


    Andy

  7. #7
    Grey is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jun 2009 New York Posts: 2,006
    Pascale, thank you.

  8. #8
    TPunch42 is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2006 San Diego, CA Posts: 1,721
    This is our custom both in St. Barts and when we have traveled to France. Americans are much better received when we are overtly polite! (the rude ones ruin it for the rest of us) Funny part is I get in such a habit of it I often forget I am back in the US and try to say Bonjour when I enter a store back home for a few days after I return. I have even asked a waitress for "le Toilette" once after returning home. Got some really strange looks on that one. I could love to hear a French perspective on the rules of etiquette around asking to use the restroom and what is the best way to say it without being rude...especially if not a customer and a little desperate.. Maybe one for another Friday.

  9. #9
    amyb is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 25,611
    This thread will be so helpful. Thanks Pascale. I mean MERCI, Pascale.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  10. #10
    elgreaux is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Saint Barth Posts: 10,251
    merci Pascale... bonne idée !

  11. #11
    TPunch42 is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jan 2006 San Diego, CA Posts: 1,721
    Yes! Merci Pascale!

  12. #12
    Eddie is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2004 virginia Posts: 6,890
    Great idea. Perhaps, as the lessons grow, it can get it's own spot in Timeless Tips.
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  13. #13
    pascaleschmidt is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2008 NYC, Nice Posts: 1,494
    And as anything, if anyone has ideas, suggestions or questions all could learn from, let me know! Bonsoir! ( good evening).

  14. #14
    Jeanette is offline
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    Merci, Madame, and I am very much looking forward to see you in a few weeks. We can work on pronunication then.
    Liberté, Égalité, Sororité

  15. #15
    VW is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Jun 2010 Eatontown,NJ and Ludlow, Vt Posts: 262
    Great idea. Merci Pascale. See you in a couple of weeks.

  16. #16
    cassidain is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Ailleurs Posts: 6,280
    Quote Originally Posted by pascaleschmidt View Post
    And as anything, if anyone has ideas, suggestions or questions all could learn from, let me know! Bonsoir! ( good evening).
    Mon amie, perhaps while on the topics of bonjour, bonne journée, and au revoir you could instruct all of us on the proper usage their nocturnal cousins bonsoir, bonne soirée and bonne nuit.
    Par avance, merci.

    P.-S. personally, my habit is to greet the storekeeper in your example with, bonjour, madame/monsieur/mademoiselle.
    I have been instructed that the more personalized salutation is traditional and appreciated. Tu ne trouves pas ?
    Fils du Sud - Ministre de la Santé

    If I can't wear my Havaianas, I ain't goin'...ÀMHA

  17. #17
    pascaleschmidt is offline
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    the only tricky part with the madame/mademoiselle choice is the following: you may offend the woman who is married if you call her mademoiselle and you may really offend the woman who is not married by calling her madame.... so in many cases unless you are sure of their marital status, stick to a simple "bonjour"!

  18. #18
    islander is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2005 Posts: 1,498
    [QUOTE=cassidain;834564]Mon amie, perhaps while on the topics of bonjour, bonne journée, and au revoir you could instruct all of us on the proper usage their nocturnal cousins bonsoir, bonne soirée and bonne nuit.
    Par avance, merci.

    Bonsoir: in France, to be used after 6:00 pm but in the French West Indies locals have a tendency to say Bonsoir from after 3:00 pm (or so). It is an introduction greeting (good evening)
    Bonne soirée: typically to be used when leaving a place or someone (pm only, normally after sunset, when the night is still "young"). It could be translated as "have a good evening" or "enjoy the rest of the evening".
    Bonne nuit: just like in English. Good night! Basically to be used when ready to go to bed ("sleep well"). The party is over :-)

  19. #19
    Jim Kelly-Evans is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Nov 2010 Philadelphia and Fire Island, NY Posts: 864
    I really appreciate this thread. Please keep the lessons coming. I'm currently trying Pimsleur French I, which I was able to secure from the Philadelphia Free Library. I have very little facility for language and I am embarassed about it, so I am determined to learn at least a little before our next trip to the island. (It comes in handy here in Nice as well!)
    "I'd rather have a bottle in front of me, than a frontal lobotomy." - Dorothy Parker

  20. #20
    amyb is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 25,611
    This thread is so helpful.

    Merci.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  21. #21
    NHDiane is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Aug 2003 New Hampshire Posts: 6,937
    Quote Originally Posted by islander View Post

    Bonsoir: in France, to be used after 6:00 pm but in the French West Indies locals have a tendency to say Bonsoir from after 3:00 pm (or so). It is an introduction greeting (good evening)
    Bonne soirée: typically to be used when leaving a place or someone (pm only, normally after sunset, when the night is still "young"). It could be translated as "have a good evening" or "enjoy the rest of the evening".
    Bonne nuit: just like in English. Good night! Basically to be used when ready to go to bed ("sleep well"). The party is over :-)
    I have often wondered about the "timing" of these greetings. au revoir, merci is my usual exit comment :)
    Emma Peel: I suppose Mother warned you about women like me?
    John Steed: Until now, I didn't know there were women like you.

  22. #22
    cassidain is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Ailleurs Posts: 6,280
    Quote Originally Posted by pascaleschmidt View Post
    the only tricky part with the madame/mademoiselle choice is the following: you may offend the woman who is married if you call her mademoiselle and you may really offend the woman who is not married by calling her madame.... so in many cases unless you are sure of their marital status, stick to a simple "bonjour"!
    Pascale, at what approximate age is it ok to address a woman, married or not, as madame ? As I understand it (and I may well be misinformed), in times past unmarried women were addressed as mademoiselle perhaps at any age but not so much these days???
    Fils du Sud - Ministre de la Santé

    If I can't wear my Havaianas, I ain't goin'...ÀMHA

  23. #23
    cassidain is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Ailleurs Posts: 6,280
    Quote Originally Posted by islander View Post
    Bonsoir: in France, to be used after 6:00 pm but in the French West Indies locals have a tendency to say Bonsoir from after 3:00 pm (or so). It is an introduction greeting (good evening)
    Also worth pointing out that in the evening bonsoir is employed both as a greeting and parting salutation, whereas as bonjour is very rarely used as a parting salutation (I understand from CNRTL that it is permissible, but I have only heard it used that way in one movie and never in person).
    Fils du Sud - Ministre de la Santé

    If I can't wear my Havaianas, I ain't goin'...ÀMHA

  24. #24
    islander is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2005 Posts: 1,498
    Quote Originally Posted by cassidain View Post
    Pascale, at what approximate age is it ok to address a woman, married or not, as madame ? As I understand it (and I may well be misinformed), in times past unmarried women were addressed as mademoiselle perhaps at any age but not so much these days???
    Probably when a woman is normally married, say 30-35ish years old at the latest. Addressing an unmarried woman past this age as "Mademoiselle" would feel a bit strange. "Mademoiselle'" is typically used for younger women. Again, no specific rule here. A much less risky business is to refrain from addressing "Madame" or "Mademoiselle" if you're not 100% sure whether the lady is married or not.

  25. #25
    islander is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2005 Posts: 1,498
    Quote Originally Posted by cassidain View Post
    Also worth pointing out that in the evening bonsoir is employed both as a greeting and parting salutation, whereas as bonjour is very rarely used as a parting salutation (I understand from CNRTL that it is permissible, but I have only heard it used that way in one movie and never in person).
    That is correct. "Bonsoir" can be both used as a greeting and parting salutation. However, "bonne soirée", "bonne nuit" or "au revoir" would typically be used when leaving the party. "Bonsoir" (more formal) would still be appropriate in the early hours of the evening when leaving a party, but normally not in the end (say after 10 or 11 pm). I know, this is very subtle!

    In the common language, "Bonjour" is never used as a parting salutation. This is rather "old French". Occasionally you would hear "Bonjour chez vous" when leaving a party, but this is no longer a standard nor commonly used expression in the modern language.

    To keep it simple:

    Day time: "Bonjour" = greeting salutation ; "Bonne journée" or "Au revoir" = parting salutation
    Night time: "Bonsoir" = greeting salutation ; "Bonne soirée" or "Au revoir" = parting salutation

    You can drop the "Monsieur", "Madame" or "Mademoiselle", which is quite formal and normally not used outside business meetings or very strict/ polite introduction greetings. It's definitely not necessary when you buy croissants at Choisy or pay the cashier at Supermarché U (and there is no sign of disrespect by doing so).

  26. #26
    pascaleschmidt is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2008 NYC, Nice Posts: 1,494
    Merci Islander, mon compatriote! ( the other french native!)

  27. #27
    cassidain is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Ailleurs Posts: 6,280
    Quote Originally Posted by islander View Post
    You can drop the "Monsieur", "Madame" or "Mademoiselle", which is quite formal and normally not used outside business meetings or very strict/ polite introduction greetings. It's definitely not necessary when you buy croissants at Choisy or pay the cashier at Supermarché U (and there is no sign of disrespect by doing so).
    I'm sure you're correct, but as an étranger I'm more comfortable being rather on the more strictly formal, even old schoolish, side. I do take your and Pascale's point in reference to that between age for females older than teens but younger than 30ish. I tend to play it safe with them and drop the honorific title altogether. When having to hail a female of that age (say, a waitress whose attention I want to attract) it's always uncomfortable for me. What's the best advice here?
    Fils du Sud - Ministre de la Santé

    If I can't wear my Havaianas, I ain't goin'...ÀMHA

  28. #28
    pascaleschmidt is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2008 NYC, Nice Posts: 1,494
    ahhh except the other day I ran into a French woman in her 70s, greeted her with the "Bonjour madame" and was quickly corrected with, "Pardon, je suis "Mademoiselle Louis". So not only was she not married and proudly calling herself mademoiselle but she attached her last name to that!

  29. #29
    pascaleschmidt is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Oct 2008 NYC, Nice Posts: 1,494
    If you do not know just stick to a simple bonjour..... if you are trying to get the attention of the waitress for example just say:"excusez moi" (excuse me) or "pardon" (beg your pardon).

  30. #30
    cassidain is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Ailleurs Posts: 6,280
    Well, personally, I would never saluer une vielle dame without the madame (bonjour, madame). I'll just have to live with the slight risk of offending.
    Thanks to you and Islander for the help!
    Fils du Sud - Ministre de la Santé

    If I can't wear my Havaianas, I ain't goin'...ÀMHA

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