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  • The emigrant's destiny: The foreign country has not become home, but home has become foreign.

    --Alfred Polger (d. 1955), Der Emigrant und die Heimat

    Emigranten-Schicksal: Die Fremde ist nicht Heimat geworden. Aber die Heimat Fremde.

    Between 2007 and 2009, I lived in Los Angeles after living in Paris for many years. My Paris blog (before and after my Los Angeles sojourn) is Rue Rude.

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    « Return to normal | Main | The orphan »

    03 April 2008

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    In Virginia, I am mostly called Mrs. H. Not M. Where I grew up in South Georgia, it is proper to call someone Mrs. M. That is add a Mrs. or Miss to their first name. We never, ever called an older person by their first name only.

    It's simultaneously comforting and depressing that someone who lived for so long in France still has trouble with tu and vous. Depressing b/c it only reminds me that I will most likely never get the hang of it, it being such a foreign concept... Comforting, though, b/c it makes me feel like less of a fool that after all these years of study, and after even having lived in France for a short stint, it can still be tricky for me.

    It was actually a bit of a problem in my homestay family in Provence! I really stressed out about what to call my homestay parents, and attempted to solve the problem by simply speaking to them at the same time so that I could use vous without worrying! I didn't often have that option, however, because one of them bartended nights and the three of us only ate all together twice a week. I decided to refer to them each as vous, because I was taught that when speaking to a person considerably older than you are, you should always use vous, or it's incredibly disrespectful and insulting (of course, I that was also ten years ago, and it didn't occur to me that the situation might be different for young teenagers and twenty-something adults). Given that these people were 30 some-odd years older, I used vous to avoid being rude and disrespectful. Well, one day at dinner, one of them told me that not only could I tutoie them, but that I *should* have been doing so pretty much all along, b/c my use of "vous" was cold/distant/rude/as though I were trying to erect a "barrier" between us... Whoops!

    I also find the false familiarity of the American commercial/business world grating - especially since it usually comes from people like collection agencies, telemarketers, campaign contribution calls, etc. - essentially, people who are just trying to take my money... The pretending-to-be-my-best-friend bit is certainly... aggravating to say the least.

    And that's an interesting/amusing expression, must be very old... Who knew raising pigs together was so intimate? :)

    trop marrant... I'm going to remember that one.

    One thing that really bothers me is that my boyfriend's mother vousvoyers me. Of course I vousvoyer her right back. But his aunts-- her sisters-- all said "on se tutoie!" the second time I met them. So, because we tutoyer each other, I feel like I have this lovely close relationship with his aunts, but I feel distant from his mother. And this woman is likely going to be my mother-in-law in the not-so-distant future! And N tutoyers his mother, but insists that I have to vousvoyer her and she has to vousvoyer me, it's only proper.

    Is this normal??

    Can't help you there! Though as I have seen, plenty of French people have their own troubles with "tu" and "vous." I think it cause far more grief than it's worth (like Mother's Day!) and I'm so glad we don't have to deal with it in our own sensible language.

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    Today's quotation

    • In Paris, the purest virtue is the object of the filthiest slander.

        –Honoré Balzac (1799-1850), in Scènes de la vie privée

      À Paris, la vertu la plus pure est l'objet des plus sales calomnies.

    Le petit aperçu d'Ailleurs

    • Annual Geminids meteor shower (shooting stars!) coming this weekend, if it's not too cloudy out at night.