Monday, 10 June 2013

Do I look French to you?!

When meeting a Twitter friend for the first time last week end, she exclaimed "I knew you were French, but I didn't think you were SO French!" :)

And yes, I guess I must seem very French to British people. Yet... I don't feel that French when we go back to France...
There are so many things that I love here, objects, places, customes, ideas, that are woven into the British culture and spirit, and seem utterly alien to French people. At least French people living in France, but they're strangely familiar for me.
Take hot drinks... You go anywhere in the UK and you will be offered a cup of tea, won't you? Which suits me just fine because I'm actually very much a tea person. And even if you choose coffee it will probably be an instant one. Go anywhere in France and you will be offered 'Un p'tit cafe?' and it will be from an electric 'cafetiere', the kind with a jug of coffee resting on a warm plate, always ready for a top up.

Even my language is not that French, I often insert English words in what I say. Just because you can't translate a language word for word and that, sometimes, the English language is just more appropriate to what I want to say. Or, other times, I say everything in French but the litteral translation of what I would say in English, and it's just not something a French person would normally say. And if I do that in France, it makes me feel very foreign indeed, maybe even more so that I ever feel in England...

And of course there are my children...  Born in the UK, speaking more English than French, because from the moment they go out of the house they know that their environment is English-speaking. Officially they're French, officially...
When DD1 was around 3, we were in France during the Summer and went into a Bakery shop. We said to her : " Do you want a croissant, a pain au chocolat, a pain au raisin ?"
To which she replied "I want a Chelsea Bun!"

On the other hand wen my two older girls were little people often asked me if their clothes were French, they thought they looked French (it's true that clothes are ver so slightly different!). But they actually just wore British clothes. Was it their features then? Did they look French? Maybe...

Do I look French ?! ;)

8 comments:

  1. I think you do look French! How should I be able to tell that just from a photo of your face? I have a French friend whose half English little girls look very French because they get clothes from France and have French hairstyles.

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  2. Interesting post....i think you look French, but is that because I already know you are? If I looked at your photo and somebody had told me you were american, I might think the same thing! I think a lot of european countries have a certain style...a certain 'je ne sais quoi' !

    I used to while away my lunch hour in Covent Garden with a friend guessing nationalities..then we'd listen in to see of we were right, we often were!

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  3. Does anyone really look a certain nationality. I have met a lot of French people over the years and I can say that I have never thought that anyone 'looked French' I would say that you look nice x

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  4. I think your dark hair and dark eyes make you look French - not many people have dark brown eyes in the UK (my girls do though!). French people are usually fairly petite and I think always dress so beautifully. You can tell French clothes a mile off - so much better quality!

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  5. Hhhmm this is an interesting discussion - we have so many stereotypes don't we! I don't think you look English but then that's because I have a typical idea of fair-skinned, light eyes and rounded face. Though you do look a little like a friend of mine and she's Welsh! I used to work in Switzerland a fair bit and I loved the way people who didn't know you might look at your features and guess what language to start a conversation in and then rapidly swap until they saw an expression of comprehension. For me they would normally start in German and then change to English - never French though. Oh to be so fluent in more than one language! My husband is half Danish and my mother-in-law always goes on about having a Danish forehead whatever that is!!

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  6. I think you look French and I lived there for 12 years, am married to a Frenchman and have half-French kids. I couldn't even say what it was exactly, but something about you. People say my 6 year old looks French (she lived in France aged 0-3.5) but I can't see it, so I think it's easier to see in others than in ourselves. When I lived in Nice I kept being mistaken for an Italian rather than a Brit.

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  7. Je ne pense pas que je penserais spontanément que tu es française si tu ne posais pas la question. Néanmoins, en voyant ta photo, j'ai envie de répondre que tu a en effet l'air d'être française, mais je crois que c'est simplement parce que tu ne corresponds pas au stéréotype que je me fais d'une Anglaise. As Franglaise Mummy, I would say that it is something about you. I don't know if you are upset when people say this, but I think you shouldn't because it seems rather positive.
    Did you see how I just shifted to English without realising ?

    "Even my language is not that French, I often insert English words in what I say. Just because you can't translate a language word for word and that, sometimes, the English language is just more appropriate to what I want to say. Or, other times, I say everything in French but the litteral translation of what I would say in English, and it's just not something a French person would normally say. " > I know exactly what you mean as I feel the same rather often and sometimes I even say an English word in a French way and struggle to find the French equivalent.

    "Go anywhere in France and you will be offered 'Un p'tit cafe?' and it will be from an electric 'cafetiere', the kind with a jug of coffee resting on a warm plate, always ready for a top up." > I'm a tea person too so I always make sure that there is PG tips at my mum's for when I go there. And I HATE the coffee from a jug left on a warm plate so she knows that if it's a coffee for me it has to be a fresh one and from the senseo machine.

    I love the UK and would like to move to Kent so I'm working on my second half but it's going to take a long time ! I would miss French bread though :)

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  8. Thanks everyone for your comments!

    Yes I think I probably do look French, like other French people I meet in the UK and I know to be French before they speak (Sarah, I like the story of your game!). I couldn't pinpoint why but there is definitely something!! And no it doesn't upset me. I'm not particularly a 'patriote' but still sort of proud to be French, would it be only because of the croissants ;)

    Thanks Nicola for saying I look nice! :)

    Françoise, I didn't realise you had switched language until you pointed it out! It just shows, doesn't it? I say English words in a French way too sometimes. And don't you find irritating the 'anglicismes' that didn't even keep the true meaning of the word?!

    Anyway, the language thing, the difference in cultures and way of thinking are fascinating.

    We have no intention of leaving the UK at the moment but I think that, if we do one day, we will bring back a little piece of it in ourselves, our memories, things and people we love here :)

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