Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Celebrate your neighbors!


Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to... my favorite neighbor! Her name is Thérèse, she lives 2 floors above from me and she is an engraver - She actually took over Bing-Guis, the family business that was founded in April 1870. The reason why I'm showing her to you today (despite the fact that she is a lovely lady, of course!) is that yestersday (Tuesday) was the neighbors' day in France. Principle? Talk to your neighbors! Or even organize a big dinner party and get everyone in your building to join in. Believe me, in a big city like Paris, where you hardly know if the guy next door is still alive, it's a pretty big achievement...

128 comments:

  1. Oh, this is so sweet! And she looks so nice too!

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  2. wow Neighbours day? never heard that one before
    Hello Thérèse!

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  3. I told you Guille, too much competition!

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  4. Neighbors' day sounds like such an awesome idea! How nice of you to introduce us to one of your neighbors. She looks very chic (love the red sweater with the pearls), and I like how you've given us just a glimpse into her apartment. Bing is the sound many things make too (well, at least in American English)!

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  5. How truly delightful! Is Therese prepared for the fact that she's about to be famous?!?

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  6. Alexandra
    You have to watch out. If PHX sees you claiming GF with one line of comment she will take it away from you...

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  7. Haha, I just had to win it today! Sorry, guys! Okay, I'm not too sorry, I'll admit it! ;) Hi Eric!

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  8. One line?? That's two lines, isn't it?

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  9. Not GF: 2 full sentences!!!

    I met my neighbors last year, it was really nice! Everyone brought something to eat and to drink.
    I didn't do it this year, I moved and my neighbors suck. LOL

    Eric, she seems to be lovely. I like the fact that you said that she lived '2 floors above' you and took her picture in high angle shot, as if you where in the stairs (Am I right?).

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  10. She does look chic, Katie.
    And what an interesting job she has. I would love to work on a family business that has been going on for such a long time.

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  11. you were*

    He he sorry Alexandra... ;)

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  12. Btw Eric, with this picture I know your full address now!! Ha ha. What am I going to do? Nothing of course. :)

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  13. She is very chic, extremely generous and she the guardian angel of the building!

    (And she's never short of new odd recipes LOL!)

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  14. ???

    I was what? Nevermind, I'm too sleepy. Goodnight. :)

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  15. Odd recipes sound intriguing, Eric. You'll have to post some/one of them. :)

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  16. How very cool! I live out in the country with only a few neighbors nearby. In fact, one of them just shared some lovely peony plants with me yesterday. (They are my favorite flower!!) We usually host a Christmas open house when our neighbors come over, but I haven't done one in the summer. Quelle bon idea! (I hope that is right. My French is limited, to say the least.:)

    One of my favorite nights of the year is our town's Open House. The first Friday in December, our whole downtown is blocked off to traffic and people roam the streets and visit all the shops that all stay open late and have lovely snacks and music. The local high school steel drum band plays Christmas songs and then it really feels like Christmas for me!

    Enjoy Neighbor's Day!!

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  17. She sounds just delightful! And Rose I totally agree that her job sounds really interesting. It would be cool to be part of an old family business. I looked at the website and could basically understand what Bing-Guis does, but I'm on vacation and my friends don't have a French dictionary, so I'll have to read it when I get home.

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  18. I m going to bed but for those who are interested in the PDP GF Award here is a posting by Mrs Justice PHX "As the only person studying the constitution right now, I have made a decision based on a PDP precedent as of January 25,2008. Lynn a dit on comment #45, line 5 and 6......referring to the first comment to be made on a PDP photo when racing to be first..."The comment has to be relevent to Eric's photo".
    If one is to only write the word "first", it shall be deemed null and void in terms of any competition.
    It shall be here stated that 2 full lines of commentary in English,French or Portugese will need be written to fully qualify as "Le Premier Doigt d'Or" for the day.
    Spelling doesn't count as nerves will get in the way.
    Please feel free to fix my fake French for the Constitution. It should read in French " First Place PDP Golden Finger Award for the Day" Acronyms will suffice." dated 24/02/08
    lol
    Good night everyone..

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  19. Oh Alexandra, I was just correcting my previous comment mistake (you where/you were)The "he he" was about the Rose remark. :)
    Sleep tight!

    Christie, this Open House sounds nice! We're not that sociable in France. And I really mean it.

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  20. Eric, I had no idea you are so very tall! I don't suppose you have ever danced with your neighbor, but dining could be trouble free. To your health!

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  21. Nice to read it again, it helps to understand the rules. LOOOL

    Katie, Thérèse is an engraver, she makes coats of arms, jewels, cutlery in metal, silver etc. She decorates and engraves the metal basically.
    (I studied heraldry and numismatics but it didn't let me good memories LOL).

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  22. Bonjour, Thérèse! I hope we are not too loud when we come and visit Eric each night.

    I spoke to my neighbor yesterday. No, on second thought that wasn't me. But I did overhear my husband talking to the neighbor about his new barbecue grill. :)

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  23. Eric, In the US suburbs we call this a block party. Get a permit from the village, block off the street, set up some tables and party hardy. It's a great way to bond with the people down the street and a good time to tell you next door neighbor to keep his dog off your lawn.

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  24. Meet-your-neighbor day? Hmmm.. ideally, it sounds like fun, although in some neighborhoods, you don't really want to meet the neighbors ;)

    Wait until Hallmark hears about it and you'll be able to buy cards for that too! :)

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  25. Thanks for the info Guille! I know what numismatics is, but now I have to look up heraldry! Now I'm even more interested in reading the Bing-Guis website. And btw, great new photo!

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  26. I hear you - I am still not sure who lives above me. I love thi idea but somehow, I really cannot imagine it would ever work in NYC.

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  27. Neighbor's Day -- what a great idea. I've spent half my life telling ignorant Americans how sympa the French are. This is just more proof.
    Bonjour, Therese. I'll assume you're going to read our comments and would like to say that you seem very chic, and you must be a wonderful voisine if Eric says so. I won't even ask what kind of neighbor Eric is -- the best kind, I'm sure!
    And Rose, I didn't even try for GF today (I was on the subway). But I see that you and Alexandra sent your comments at exactly the same time, and yours IS longer . . .
    Eric, now that I know where you live, I'm going to log on to Google Earth and become your virtual stalker(!)

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  28. Good neighbors are a blessing, bad neighbors a curse. There are the barking dogs people and the loud music people. There are the good recipe people and the mow-the-lawn-when-you're-sick people.

    Was it Robert Frost?--"Good fences make good neighbors."

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  29. Alexa: I've spent half my life telling ignorant Americans how sympa the French are. This is just more proof.

    Tsk, tsk, tsk... I don't agree with that at all !!! That kind of statement makes me sad :-(

    In fact, having lived half my life in France and the other half in the US, I would tend to say that in general, the opposite is true, and the great majority of people I've met in the US are generous beings, individualistic, yes, but good-hearted people inside. Considering the pressure people in the US seem to be under all the time - no vacation, no safety net, etc. - it's incredible that they can also be so generous, so kind. Not all French people are "sympa" trust me. (sigh).

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  30. (I realize you may have meant it as a joke, but still ...)

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  31. As David stated, we have "block parties" which are intended to serve the same purpose as neighbors day. For apt dwellers I can see this would be a great way to get to know those below, above, and all around you, eh? She looks like a charming lady and what an interesting line of work...and to carry on the family tradition, too. Personally, I wouldn't have the patience or the talent...for that matter.

    Jeff...you're correct on the Frost quote. And to quote Forrest Gump, "And that's all I've got to say about that." :-)

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  32. I'm curious ... Did those of you who live in France have neighbors knocking on your door to introduce themselves? Did you do so yourself? Did you find yourself doing some extra tidying up of your place in case someone happened by?

    I checked out Therese's website. It looks as though she does beautiful work.

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  33. Rose...just read your PDP GF Award rules and it's my kind of FUNNY! LOOOOOLLLLLLL

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  34. I once lived in a 14-unit building in Minneapolis and one Christmas we decided to do a "progressive" party (i.e., we progressed from one apartment to the next with different food and drink at each place, and also got progressively drunker --is that a word? not sure I'm on my second Pim's). Almost everyone participated and it was a fabulous time and we all learned so much about each other and it was a much nicer place to live after that. I've heard that it's pretty rare to get an invite to someone's apartment in Paris, so I'm not sure if that would fly there.

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  35. Tomate -- Oh dear, now I feel bad that my comment came across as so negative. Believe me, I was half joking (but I admit, only half). Of course, there are millions of Americans who are as you describe (I'd like to think that I'm one of them!). I guess I've been slightly unfortunate to encounter many who just have a bad attitude about the French in general. This always upsets me because although I'm sure it's true that not every single person in France is sympa (they can't all be Eric, apres tout), I have rarely encountered one who has not been nice to me.
    Even Eric says "Friendly Parisian (yes, it does exist) -- like that would be a surprise. I guess you have the same positive feeling about us Americans as I do about les Francais. So thanks!

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  36. Alexa, there is no problem with me, no worries. I may have reacted a little too quickly, but it's just that I keep hearing from francophiles how "French people are wonderful, and Paris is the most romantic city," etc, and however flattering this may be, it simply isn't true!

    Yes, Paris has breathtaking monuments, a lot of history, museums, culture, etc., and yes, you may have some wonderful experiences with the French and the French culture, the food, or whatever, but I still don't think it's a good idea to put Paris and/or French people on a pedestal like that.

    Remember, when you visit Paris for a short period of time, don't have to work, or commute during peak times when the metro is on strike, or go through the daily hassles, then your perspective is somewhat skewed...

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  37. Tomate, I totally agree that a visitor's experience is different, not reality. But just to keep my viewpoint in perspective, I lived there for four years, worked AND went to school. I even had to deal with the Prefecture at one point so I could get a permit de sejour (okay, I have to admit it -- that was perhaps not the most pleasant experience!).

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  38. Rose thanks, I was just about to intern=vene on PXH's behalf and publish the GF rules here.

    So sorry Alexandra, Katie is the real GF tonight. But you've been on a roll, winning almost everyday so I'm sure you don't mind!

    Tomate, sometimes I get tired of telling some brazilians how nice the french are. I don't care if someone says "I went to France and there was this person who treated me bad...", there are people with a bad humour everywhere. but I just can't stand when people insist on stereotypes.

    So, very very nice of you Eric to celebrate your neighbor Thérèse!!

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  39. Tomate and Alexa...great discussion. I'm jealous that you both spent so much time in the land of Champagne and great Cognac. Both of you make excellent points. For what it's worth, I'll throw my hat into the ring, too...or stuff my mouth with a pudding full of my own two shoes.
    Most French folk that I've met have been decent, friendly, and intelligent (no surprise here); most Americans I interact daily (when they're not driving and talking on their cell phones)are also rather decent, friendly, and caring individuals (albeit a bit self-absorbed at times). Nevertheless, there is always that distinct class of the "booboisie" (as H.L.Mencken would note) that inhabits any civilized shore. No matter where you go, there THEY are. [Interject NETWORK "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" here] I guess we can be thankful we've got this forum in which to "remake" the world, eh? [insert foot again] And...that's all I got to say about that.

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  40. Eric, your neighbor looks like she is quite charming. What an excellent tradition, Neighbor's Day! Is it the same day each year, as in May 27th, or as in the last Tuesday in May?

    For the record, I have lovely neighbors, and we gather quite often, especially in the summer months. They are old and young, married, widowed, divorced and gay, generations-old Geneva families and even two foreign born. Of course, there is always one who can't play well with the others...perhaps I will post her on my blog next year... ; )

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  41. Fun! We should probably have one of those around here. I've lived in my apartment since January and I only know the names of the property manager and primary maintenance guy and he's the only one I ever talk to (he used to be friends withmy brother and sis-in-law when they lived here).

    Oh, and I'd like to give an early HAPPY 28th BIRTHDAY to Michael!!! My week is going to be very busy so I'm not sure if I'll have a chance to get online. *hugs* to you and I hope your special day is magnificent!

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  42. That's a wonderful custom -- and your neighbor looks charming! You are lucky, indeed. Here, in the "City of Trees", people are usually friendly. Boise is a medium-sized city by now, but still retains a "small town" atmosphere in many ways (some positive -- some negative ;)).

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  43. I LOVE this idea. I think it would be especially fun to try in Manhattan-if only I still lived there! I went to a great block party last summer here on Long Island, but I usually try to avoid them. They can be very noisy with loud music so it's hard to make conversation. I much prefer the dinner party idea-another reason to move to France! Nice to meet you T!

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  44. Coltrane -- I'm pretty sure I'm the one with foot-in-mouth disease today (mea culpa, really). I think your comment is spot on. Meanwhile, am wondering what the lovely Therese must think of this whole discussion.
    More "on subject" -- my co-op in Brooklyn just had a big stoop sale (we don't actually have a stoop, but that's what it's called in the city, as opposed to a yard sale) where everyone cleaned out their closets, bookshelves, kitchen cabinets. The money we made (about $1,000) will keep our garden looking lovely, and maybe pay for the wine etc. for the two parties we have every year, a summer barbecue and a Christmas/Hanukkah party. Yes, New Yorkers are friendly, too.

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  45. Ms M -- my brother lives in Boise. Great city, and very friendly -- when I went out there to visit him, I met SO many terrific people.

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  46. She looks like a very nice neighbor! Did she help you the time your plumbing went on the "fritz"?? ;-)

    I live in a 30 unit apartment building and I have to admit that I am not so sure I would like to meet and interact with all my neighbors. There is one in particular that lives above me that is a real nuisance! Talk about self absorbed! Mon Dieu!!

    Tomate: "Wait until Hallmark hears about it and you'll be able to buy cards for that too! :)"...LOL!! Too funny! I can actually hear you saying that!! Sooo you!! And true!! LOL!!

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  47. Wow!!:)
    I've never heard of such a thing...thats a really sweet concept!:)
    Hello Therese!:)
    Wish we could have such stuff here...probably we can start it!!:)

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  48. Oh Eric, when I logged in this morning and saw Thérèse's photo, I was so happy! Then I saw that there were already 50 comments and was even happier!! I do hope that you'll translate the post and comments for her as I know she doesn't speak English.

    For those who haven't checked out her website, Thérèse's engraving work is fantastic and not just on silver, glass and the usual. Once she showed me a plastic mold for making foie gras that she had engraved with somebody's family crescent. And if you don't have a family crescent, she'll make one for you! (Yes, I'm promoting her!).

    "La fête des voisins" is such a great idea, and I hope people go tot he website you posted. I learned something new today (as always!).

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  49. Here's the site in English:
    http://www.european-neighbours-day.com/

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  50. I love the idea of neighbor day. We're fortunate to have wonderful neighbors. Our block is like Kelly's. We even have a couple of voisines (from near Marseilles). We have a block party every year. There are always a few people who don't participate, but it's their loss, I think.

    The friendly Alexa/Tomate discussion interested me. I've participated in such discussions on both sides. We met mostly friendly people in France, yet I had to defend a friend who spoke no French when she was taken advantage of by the Louvre staff (who were nicer to me because I spoke French). Yet I've been appalled at the ignorance of some Americans about French people. I guess you're going to find ignorant behavior and exemplary behavior everywhere. People are people, how about that? I hope I don't sound cynical. I love it all and mean to take it in stride.

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  51. Wouldn't it be funny if your neighbours family name had been Bing, then her name would have been 'Bing Bing'! Now that'd does ring a bell!

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  52. Tomate, give me five! I think EXACTLY the same thing about French people. But it's hard to say that to the tourists who meet us in Paris, it sounds like fake modesty... I told it to Jeff when he was here and he said that it was the same in the US. All these things are only stereotypes.
    But I understand that after the wonderful PDP picnic we had, you all think that we are great people! ;)

    Parisian heart
    'Did those of you who live in France have neighbors knocking on your door to introduce themselves?' Ah ah ah .No. Or it's so rare that I don't remember!

    Katie, the heraldry is the study of the coat of arms (in French, blasons et armoiries). :S

    Petrea, Louvre's staff members are jerks. I spent 2 years there and it was a day-to-day fight!

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  53. Holy Moly! I've only been gone for a week and I'm already lost:) What is GF? An engraved mould sounds just lovely.Hmm. I wouldn't mind having a family crest designed! What a novel idea!

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  54. Coltrane
    I was quoting Mrs Justice PHX-CDG... and she is funny, seriously funny!

    Monica
    I think we have to consult PHX on that one because what happens if the sentence is short, like mine (can you hear me stamping my feet and crying "I want to be GF! I want to be GF!"?) and then you need to start a new paragraph?
    I want to be GF! I want to be GF!

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  55. Sadly, at the moment, I am unable to do much more than quickly read your comments, fellow PDPers. It's the final leg of the current semester, and I'm immersed in researching and writing a bunch of essays, all of which are proving that I haven't yet learned to stop biting off more than I can chew!

    But I though I'd be "neighbourly" and at least let you know that I am thinking of - and, yes, missing - you. I'll be back soon, though, in a much more relaxed frame of mind, to post a few random thoughts on whatever seems worth commenting on. For now, best wishes to everyone.

    PS Petrea et. al., I haven't forgotten about my Camille Claudel post. I simply need to find the right images and music to match the text. Give me a week or two...

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  56. Just a note ... I think sometimes what comes across as rudeness or friendliness has to do with the way even nonverbal cues have different meanings in different cultures. For example, I live in Nashville, Tennessee in the U.S. Here, as one is walking down the street, it is often polite to nod or smile at people one passes closely. We also tend to wave at people in the neighborhood, even if we don't know them. If I were to do the same thing in Paris, people would likely find it strange, and it certainly would be perceived as "an invitation" by many of the "dragueurs" (pickup artists).

    My personal experience of living in France was that the French were less likely to be as open and welcoming (at least in a gregarious way) initially. (For example, I flew over there to teach for a year, and no one from the school came to meet me at the airport. Here in the U.S., we would likely have a welcoming committee.) However, I found the French to be EXCEPTIONALLY loyal and generous as I got to know them individually. (For example, one teacher in the school where I taught had an extra car she was planning to sell. She ended up loaning it to me to drive for the remainder of my months in France!) I have said that once a French person does befriend someone, it seems to be for life. Just my personal experience ... I certainly think there are folks on both ends of the niceness spectrum across the world. And sometimes, additional understanding of cultural differences helps.

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  57. Parisian Heart
    You said it all, beautifully expressed...

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  58. Interesting comments on the differences between the Americans and the French. I once attended one of Pascal Baudry's seminar, where he brilliantly explains what cultural differences bring us to react the way we do.

    I don't resist posting a couple of paragraphs of his book "French and Americans - The other shore" here. I hope he won't mind.

    Explicitness is the American way. Words equal things. The map is the territory. To be able to assimilate within a mere two centuries, in a country as large as Europe, more than two hundred and eighty million foreigners, many of whom were not proficient in the English language, a particular culture has had to develop: in order to be able to act in an efficient and timely manner, people need to be able to ask for information without being judged on the very fact of asking questions or on the way they ask them, and to expect straight answers, stated at the same level as the questions. In addition, the founding fathers of the American nation chose to take the opposite course of the British royalist culture, with its vertical structure and its abuses. To that purpose, they set up a system of checks and balances, which is to say a set of procedures whose goal was to prevent any one of the three branches of government from exercising excessive power; that system rests upon a high degree of transparency, and therefore requires a continuous effort to ensure explicitness. Thus, starting from the British culture, which strongly leaned towards implicitness, American culture has become one of the most explicit on the planet.

    By contrast, French culture, which is older, does not seem to favor the assimilation of foreigners. It can thus afford to judge people based on the questions they ask (on their nature and quality, mode of expression, contextual relevance, the level of proficiency that can be inferred from them, etc.,) to fail to answer at the level at which the questions are asked, to respond with critical or mocking innuendos, or even not to answer at all. Thus, foreigners will be made to feel that they must somehow earn the right to be admitted into the French culture, through a gradual mastering of un-stated rules. They will be allowed—bit by bit, and at their own risk—to understand that culture from the inside, and later to behave like the natives themselves, including by failing to make the rules explicit for the uninitiated. I will later return to this sadistic behavior—please take note of it if the use of this adjective has startled you—because it seems to me to play a central role in the French culture. It is experienced by Americans (and most especially by American women) upon their arrival in France as extremely disconcerting.

    The French insistence on judging others, in particular their intelligence, by the yardstick of the questions they ask, is worthy of examination, since that insistence reveals more than the mere, “intelligere.” In fact, the French seem to be alone in calling “intelligence” the ability to decipher their code without any outside help, and in admiring that ability, not in too explicit a way, however, and using innuendos in the same way as fencers use their foils1. American culture is a binary one. Within its context, a statement must be either true or false. Americans are quite uncomfortable with nuances of gray, whereas the French thrive and even delight in the oceans of ambiguity that they purposely preserve. In fact, Americans are mentally wired in such a way that, when placed in a situation of uncertainty, they will create a new sub-category within which a statement will be either true or false. If that result has still not been achieved, a new sub-sub-category will be created, and so on, until the final taxonomy is a completely binary one.

    That heuristic path will be articulated on two types of questions:
    1- Ones regarding legitimacy, such as, “Is the situation at hand legal?”; “Are the actors involved legitimate?”
    2- Pragmatic ones, such as, “What is there to gain?”; “What aspect of the situation is already known, and what already-tried solutions can be applied to it?”; “Am I competent?” Each question-and-answer pair constitutes a module, which may later be re-used in order to clarify other similar situations. This allows for an important learning experience and greatly enhances innovation by making it possible to focus people’s energy on the only aspects of reality that are worthy of it, thus saving a considerable amount of time. All the more so because Americans, unlike the French who aim to distinguish themselves by leaving a personal trace of their existence, usually have no compunction about re-using modules originally designed or already used by others. The tree-pattern thus produced by the application of the module concept to every field will, of course, constitute an ideal foundation for reasoning in computer science, for highly divided distributions of neighborhoods within cities, for legal approaches, for the glorification of expertise, or for organizations based on the Ford system of production.

    Unlike the American way, the French way leans toward implicitness. For the French, words are different from things and signifiers from signified. The French regard what is too explicit as naive, not to say dumb, or worse. This discrepancy between what is stated and what is meant is not trivial. It is, it seems to me, a requirement in French discourse. The gap between what is meant and what is actually said leaves room for allusions, shared historical references, in other words, for a bond, for complicity even, for poetry, for desire. Above all, that gap leaves communication open to misunderstandings and disagreements, forcing the participants to pay close attention to the means of relating, at the expense of content. The French tend to listen intently and to hear much more than what is being said: “Why is he the one saying this? Why is he saying it this way? Why is he telling me? Why now? What isn’t he telling? What is he hiding? What should he have said? How is he wrong? How is he trying to fool me?” This way of listening, which is the counterpart of a particular way of speaking, helps to develop among the French a mostly contextual grasp of words, in which the content of what is said is affected by what surrounds it. Hall2 called French culture “context-rich,” whereas American culture is “context-poor,” since its meanings largely amount to its contents.

    Thus the French dedicate much attention to their workplace environment; they speak with their hands, decorate their cities with large numbers of monuments, design indirect commercials, use understatements and paralipsis. Americans, on the contrary, are willing to work long periods in windowless offices, are liable to build only one road to connect point A to point B, mention the price of a restaurant dish in front of their guests, leave power lines above ground, use short sentences or impose the same grid pattern upon San Francisco’s twenty three hills as they would upon any flat city. For the French, a ballot can have many meanings besides what is written on it, whereas Americans would not consider for a moment voting for candidates they would not want to win. The reason why French was for several centuries the language spoken at European courts was not because it was the most precise one, as has been claimed, but that it was the one that allowed its speakers to be imprecise in the most precise way. French makes it possible to say what is not yet so, to describe specific nuances of gray in the progression toward an agreement, and to express the intermediate steps that imply one would not be entirely opposed to a particular decision…. The clarity of the French language, which was so highly praised by the writer Anatole France, is the result of an overt and insistent effort that goes against the spirit of French culture. The fact that engineers, physicians, business people, scientists, etc., insist on using the right word, is remarkable in that it makes up for the natural fuzziness of the culture, just as Descartes’ Discourse on Method, in 1637, came to govern French thought because that thought badly needed “the right rhythm,“ as Boileau wrote in 1674 about the poet Malherbe. Yet all that is no more than a whitewashing, a protecting reversal, as is often the case in cultures that tend toward implicitness. Whether the French actually are rationalists, as they claim, is very much in doubt. As we shall see, French law is based on a formal cause-and-effect logical reasoning. That reductive formal character often takes precedence over the real world, allowing individuals and their subjectivities to evade responsibility. Repressed tendencies have a way of reappearing….

    Implicitness brings with it a heightened perceptiveness3; one needs to see not only what is there, but also what is implied, what could be there. During his three stays in Paris between 1906 and 1910, the young American painter Edward Hopper adopted the subtleness of that city’s nuances of gray. It took him about ten years after returning to the United States to get used once again to America’s rawer, bolder hues4. The work of Mary Cassatt, the only American painter who was a “true” impressionist in the French sense of the word, also shows the influence of the implicitness of French culture. Americans are fascinated by Seurat and his Pointillism. They see in it an artistic practice that, while close to that of Impressionism, unlike it, utilizes the pictorial device of separating things into discrete entities, which amount to tiny processes, thus making art less mysterious and more intelligible. Oil painting sets found in France make it possible to recreate the whole range of the palette with a mere ten or so colors. In the United States, such sets would not make sense; American sets offer a larger range of pre-mixed basic colors, similar to the ready-mix that characterizes American cuisine. By the way, American cookbooks are much more detailed than their French counterparts, since they do not rely on the assumption that readers already know how to separate egg whites from yolks. In the same way, French road signaling is often incomplete, which causes much grief to foreigners coming from countries with less implicit cultures.

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  59. Eric
    What an interesting article!
    It takes me back to when I was studying social constructionism.
    In my opinion, our view of a country is often given to us by either the media, a short visit or one individual/a small group of people.
    Like Parisian Heart said, "additional understanding of cultural differences helps" and tolerance does the rest!

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  60. How lovely a concept: "The gap between what is meant and what is actually said leaves room for allusions, shared historical references, in other words, for a bond, for complicity even, for poetry, for desire."

    Would that Americans allow just a bit of that into the presidential election -- no! would that we demand it . . . seems nearly impossible to hope for.

    I say frequently to my husband, "I love our neighbors!" We're fortunate, and you are too as the photo of Therese shows.

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  61. Lovely photo of a lovely lady. She looks so nice, I can understand why she's your favourite neighbour, Eric.
    Say Hello to her from us at PDP !

    Neighbours day - that's a great invention. I would love to have such a day in DK. Is it only in Paris or is it all over France ?

    The article is very interesting as well.

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  62. "where you hardly know if the guy next door is still alive,"


    he he Eric! That's so true though. Here, too in England. Though, i must say, since being ill, the neighbours have been marvellous. I've had meals cooked, prescriptions collected, the lawn cut and a lift into town. Wonderful. All these qualities are still there, we just don't bump into them every day as we used to.

    Your neighbour looks a lovely lady, what a great smile and i adore her pearls. You may get into trouble with the other neighbours for naming her favourite! Neighbours' Day (note we spell it differently in England) is a great idea. I think we should do it in the UK.

    Bonjour Madame Therese! J'pense que tu as bonne chance aussi pour l'occasion d'habiter pres d'Eric! Je m'excuse mon Francais.

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  63. Tu as DE LA bonne chance? Peut-etre.. sais pas! Please feel free to correct me.

    Guille, let's hope your neighbours who 'suck' don't drop in here huh?!

    Therese's apartment looks so grand. Do ALL Parisien apartments look like this? The doors are marvellous. I so want an apartment in Paree. It's one of the contents on my wish-list. I can see myself there, clad in my own pearls, dressed in simple black perhaps, my hair wrapped in a chignon, and smiling upwards in that charming way...at Eric! he he is there one free in your building, Eric? I'll even learn to bake croissants.

    Wow you have a long translation job to do for Mme Therese tonight, Eric. She must know that we are talking to her here, i think she will enjoy it.

    Coucou, Mme, coucou!! xx d'Angleterre.

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  64. There are so many things to say today. Another great day on PDP!! I'll never have enough time to express all what I'd like to and I feel it so frustrating...
    Anyway, very fast : Eric knows very well a lovely neighbour and that is meaning a lot (kind and kind together). Great appartment door, btw. I don't know why but Thérèse makes me think of Anissa > Hi Anissa if you are reading ;)... Two charming women, I mean!

    Eric: 'you hardly know if the guy next door is still alive' : that is also true at work sometimes... 'Talk to your neighbors'. I am not good at that. But I agree with Lynn : I am sure 'All these qualities are still there, we just don't bump into them every day as we used to'.

    Last but not least, wow, such an article from Pascal Baudry. Wonderful... I read it once and I have to read it once more to be sure I've caught everything! Very interesting. Sometimes american cultures seems to me easier for relationships than french one... But is it really? Lydia, the sentence you quoted is so important, that's so true!!

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  65. Monica, you confuse me with Alexa, I think! But you are excused, since our names are alike. But I agree with you, Katie got the real GF. I'd still maintain that I got the GFC, though (the Golden First Comment)!! ;)

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  66. Marie, GF stands for the Golden Finger, see above!

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  67. It is marvellous that you not only know your neighbour, but speak to her and have social occasions. Sadly this
    is less coomon in the UK.

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  68. Neighbours' Day is a wonderful idea. We don't have anything like it here but we should!

    That excerpt from Baudry's book was quite fascinating Eric and incredibly well and precisely written. (My you do read deep books). I disagree with him on one point though: the Westminster system of Government in Britain precisely allows for the separation of powers (courts/judiciary; the legislature (elected members) and executive arm of government (party in power). In practice there is also the separation the head of state (figurehead really unless there is a constitutional crisis of course) and the government - that separation was created by King George III. The Australian system, also a constitutional monarchy based on the Westminster System, does the same. I don't necessarily agree with the "fusion of power" theory. This is a complex argument though and best left for another time.
    In relation to Baudry's thoughts on the imprecision of language - English has many nouns that incorporate subtleties whereas French may have only one noun but a multitude of adjectives to define it and thus address the issue of subtlety. For example: bateau in French; ocean liner, container ship, ship, yacht, skiff, dingy, even gondola! I also think that Baudry makes quite an assumption when he says that only the French are capable of critical listening and contextualising!
    I found his theory on pointillism in Seurat's work as a metaphor for nuance, quite brilliant.
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading his distinctions between the French and American cultures. Australia is such a young country by comparisonb and Australians, 95% of whom are either direct immigrants or descendants of immigrants from many different nations, have incorporated the characteristics of primarily European, British and American customs.
    Notwithstanding all of that, I agree wholeheartedly that the French can convey much more with just one shrug of a shoulder or tilt of a head than anyone else. That simply adds to their charm, n'est ce pas?

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  69. mmebenaut -- well put!
    Eric, thanks for providing the excerpt from Baudry's book. I had thought I might read it, but now am doubting that I still possess the intellectual "juice" to get through the whole thing :-/ Perhaps this is a very American response, but as long as we all manage to get along, vive la difference.
    And trust you to raise the level of the discussion!

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  70. Bien sur, Mme. The French shrug is an art. I have yet to see Eric's but i can't wait. lol. Goodness i'm flirting again, who'd have guessed, from me? I'm flushed with excitement after a little flirting with a handsome doctor...ooooh goodness i think i need a lie-down. I've added a few details at Hospital Saga No. 3 for those girls who also flush at the sight or sound of a doc. What IS it about doctors?? .... sigh.... :)

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  71. Hee hee Lynn. I went to see a doc today too - they're so young these days aren't they? I didn't flush but he was rather cute.

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  72. Bawdy presents a fascinating view of American "explicit" norms and the "implicitness" of the French. Oops!...I meant Baudry. Geez! I'm so American!

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  73. Alexandra - Hej! Thanks for the GFC enlightenment.

    It's good to know that it doesn't stand for:
    Gorillas favor crackers
    Godzilla fights California
    Gary feels cranky !!!

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  74. Thanks for the article, Eric. It clarifies some things! As in any type of generalization, it can only go so far. But stereotypes are usually based in truth, if not entirely true themselves. It goes to show you: to really understand other cultures, one must travel and find out for one's self.

    Guille, thanks for the comment about the Louvre staff. I've lost sleep over that one!

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  75. Marie: Hej! Where did you learn that? :)

    I think I might have confused you even more, lol! GFC is my own invention entirely. GFC is awarded to anyone who gets the first comment, be it long or short, as long as it is relevant. Hee hee! ;)

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  76. Your neighbor looks lovely. Interesting article info also.

    I don't know how well this fits in with today's post, but it features l(L)ove, Paris and Cartier.

    http://www.love.cartier.com/

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  77. Lynn
    Flirting again?
    It looks like you have finally recovered ;)

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  78. Alexa said it -- Eric, trust you to raise the level of discussion! Thank you for that excerpt (How long did it take you to type?!?) from Pascal Baudry -- fascinating! I'd like to come back and read it again later. Giving thought to how historical differences may have influenced behavioral and communicative differences is intriguing to me.

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  79. Well let's say i've turned a corner Rose - into the Doc's office. Well in two weeks' time that's where i'll be anyway. Now; ....what to wear, what to wear....?

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  80. Lynn, tu ne peux pas dire 'tu' à une vieille dame! I won't correct your sentence more than that. :)

    I'm out of GF race tonight, I'll be asleep in 20 minutes I think!! Tough day. So the way is free, I give you a chance to win. But I'll be back tomorrow. Muhahahaha.

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  81. The Baudry excerpt is fascinating, wonderful, and quite fun to read. (Oh, sorry, is that too explicit?)

    I think perhaps, that this writer, maybe philosopher or academician, may have come close to a somewhat useful comparison, which may be of value in certain situations. I will consider remembering this. Beudeu geu deu.

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  82. Oh - I love Neighbor's Day! I have been dating one of my neighbors for about 9 months. I highly recommend it :)!

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  83. We'lld have to start calling Pont Girl "Bad Pont Girl." In a good way. ;)

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  84. I can't read all the comments as i am on a layover in paris right now and need to be in BED RIGHT now but you know the PDP sickness.....here I am trying to catch up on things when I need to get up to go to work in 7 hrs.

    Thank you Rose, for ironing things out in my absence. You are a perfect clerk!!! Indeed, Katie is the true winner of todays GF award.

    tODay is my first day back to Paris after the picnic, and it was a truly strange and wonderful experience. Firstly, I always would look at people on the metro or the streets, wondering if I would ever spot Guille or Michael or Thib, or any Parisian with a picture on the blog , that is, before we had the picnic.
    NOW, as I walked around today, everyone from the blog was with me!!! I thought of all of you today, with your special loves of paris and "felt" you. Looking at the art in the d'orsay, I thought of |Lucio; Suzy and Jeff when I looked at the eiffel tower, Monica, you were everywhere around St. Germain., Petra, can't remember if you ate at La Tour Argent, but I thought of you anyway, Rose,when I looked at the Seine, I saw you with a drink in your hand,Lois, your picture on your blog with the scene of Paris came to mind; I have people breathing down my neck for the computer so I can't finish, but the point is, when some of you bloggers come to Paris one day, our spirit from our blogging will be with you .Very interesting!!! And, Eric , you are everywhere!Passed by the statue of Chateaubriand that you featured a while back, and I finally REALLY looked at it. Someone had mentioned the nose was missing---I "heard" you.
    Sorry for those I didn't mention, but YOU WERE with me! Gotta go.

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  85. Guille, i said i was an old lady??? Did I??? Horror of horrors! No i'm not! Eeek. Must brush up on my French. Love the wicked laugh, Guille lol.

    Phx: What's a layover? It sounds naughty. Do tell.

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  86. phx cdg...I can't say anything, you're so sweet.
    Enjoy your stay, even if it's for working.

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  87. Non Lynn, you didn't say such a thing! And I know you're not an old lady. LOL.
    But you said 'tu' to an old woman, which is, in a way, quite rude... hm hm. Anyway, you know that your French is good. :)

    Layover sounds naughty?! Lynn, you HAVE to go out of your house and meet people and drink a glass of wine, RIGHT NOW! Layover, naughty...pffff.

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  88. Lynn, "layover" is just airline talk for "a few moments between flights." Might be minutes or hours. PHX gets lots of layovers, lucky girl.

    PHX! Thanks for thinking of us. Now that I've seen the video, I think of you when I see a certain bright green.

    Guille, did Lynn say she was "at an old lady?"

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  89. Well, WHAT is a layover? I have no idea! lol.

    Eek i would loathe to be rude to that nice Mme. I shall try to change it immediately.

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  90. I can't - it's on two comments.

    Je suis desolee Madame Therese, j'utilise 'tu'. Je m'excuse....er....j'suis Anglais. :(


    By the way Guille, i must tell you, while we are at it, we should never say 'old lady'. This is rude too i'm afraid! lol i'm not playing tit for tat, it really is. We say 'elderly lady' for old, but in fact i wouldn't call this lady elderly. She is mature. We both made some gaffs, huh!

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  91. We'd say the same in American English, Lynn. Never "old lady," certainly not the lovely Therese.

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  92. he he Petrea now we're ALL confused!

    So that's what a layover is, ok thanks. I don't think i've heard it before.

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  93. That's right Petrea. I used 'old' when referring to myself in horror, but this is a joke. Never old, addressed to a person or even, seriously referring to them. Always elderly. Man or woman.

    I've caused a bit of a stir, haven't i? Eek again. Sorry.

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  94. No worries, Lynn. Surely I've done worse. On this very site.

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  95. Lynn
    Like me you might be ga-ga but definitely not old (or elderly)lol

    PHX you are welcome but next time can you please say that I m GF? I don't really want to be just a clerk...I want to be GF! I want to be GF! And you are right about the drink. In all the pictures from the picnic I have a glass (huge) in my hand. People will think that I drank even more caipirinha than Michael and Guille!

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  96. HA! HA! I got a chuckle out of Lynn thinking a layover is naughty. I suppose it can be, if done right, but I personally have never had a naughty layover. Too bad, now that I think of it!

    Did Soosha say it was Michael's 28th birthday? Are we sure about that?

    PHX-CDG, I am touched that you would think of me when seeing the Eiffel Tower.

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  97. You don't need to apologise so profusely, Lynn! I think everyone here is grateful to you for bringing them laughs nearly/or every day!

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  98. I think a naughty layover's a wonderful idea. It's on my agenda for my next trip.

    Suzy, I will never look at the Eiffel Tower again without thinking of you, and of all the PDP folks. PDP (and especially ERIC! ERIC!! ERIC!!!) inspired me to start my own daily photo blog, which has introduced me to my hometown in a whole new way. And introduced me to other people around the world as well. What a gift I've received.

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  99. Michael's 28th? I'm sure it is, lol! ;)

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  100. Lynn "Phx: What's a layover? It sounds naughty." LOOOOOOOOL! (BTW, Thérèse is NOT an old lady!)

    Hey PHX,thanks for dropping us a line, whereas you have to go to bed early (I know the feeling!!)

    About to post my photo, but I'm waiting for Animoto to complete its process (yes, there is going to be a little video on the Making of today...).

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  101. Alexandra; phew! thanks.

    Suzy. After my gaff regarding the above age-related remark, i'm not even going near your comment about Michael! Just, erm, if it is Michael's birthday, Happy Birthday! It's also my father's birthday today. I baked him a cake at my blog. If Michael's very good, i'll save him a birthday piece.

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  102. Lynn, is it cheltenhamdailyphoto.blogspot.com? I'm not at home and don't have all my bookmarks.

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  103. Oh my goodness, Eric - EEEEEEk now YOU think i said she was an old lady too? Oh Eric please read the above comments. I didn't say that! I wouldn't dream of it. Groan. Ohhhhhh i'm doing a really English flutter-panic now....

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  104. No, Eric, Lynn said "I am at an old lady." She was talking about something else entirely. Right, Lynnie dear?

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  105. No, i messed up my initial registration, Petrea, quite typically, so it's www.cheltenhamdailyphoto-lynn.blogspot.com

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  106. Yes, Petrea, thank you! Phew and it was Guille who said shewasanoldladyandicorrectedherand oh i think it's allGuille'sfault! Puff, puff.

    he he only kidding, Guille. I am rather stressed at being impolite to Mme, though.

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  107. Michael's birthday is May 30...I think

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  108. Oh, my goodness, 100 comments?!! I better get back to that thread later tonight and take my time reading all the comments and Eric's article!(by the way, high 5 Guille! ;) we're on the same wavelength, I think).

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  109. Petrea that was a lovely thing you said at my blog. Thank you. I feel a little redeemed here now !

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  110. The quote Eric offers is very thought provoking, rings true for me when I consider other cultural/linguistic bridges of my own experience. A Hungarian teacher once described his language as “listener responsible” in contrast to English (presumably American English), which he said was “speaker responsible”. That is to say, we fault the speaker/writer if they are misunderstood. The Hungarians too, describe their language and culture as therefore most suited to poetry.

    On the other hand, I think what the author describes as an internal pattern between French people, the nuances of measuring intellect and cultural sophistication, happens very much between natives of the US as well. I wouldn’t expect even a fluent visitor or immigrant to ever have parity with my life’s experience of cultural references, and so I alter my speech to a less ambiguous style when with non-natives. “Speaker responsible” and all that…. 8^) But if I do that, how would the visitor know what else I am capable of? I know I longed for the nuanced precision of my own language when I felt like a cavedweller in Hungarian, only able to buy eggs and ask directions.

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  111. Rose, how beautifully stated. That's exactly how I felt in Paris. So inferior, though no one said it but me! People were kind to me. I was unkind to myself.

    You do express yourself with such beautiful nuance in English.

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  112. Oh, Lynn, I meant it. I kid you, but what would we do without you?

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  113. Eric, Thank you for posting the excerpt from Baudry's book. Very interesting to think over -- and to read others' comments about it.

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  114. Well hello Terese! She looks like a nice neighbor to have!
    I love the concept of neighbor day!

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  115. What a great idea! We need to have a neighbors day here in America.

    *Waving to Therese!*

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