Register  Login  Active Topics  Maps  

French: Fresh, fun & effortless media

 Language Learning Forum : Language Learning Log Post Reply
1317 messages over 165 pages: << Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 156 ... 164 165 Next >>
garyb
Triglot
Senior Member
ScotlandRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3252 days ago

1468 posts - 2411 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian, French
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 1241 of 1317
10 June 2015 at 10:43am | IP Logged 
Arnaud25 wrote:
Lol, perhaps you can understand why french people are reputed to be intolerant with foreigners throwing their bad french at us (and it's even not true, imho, we're very patient and tolerant, but add bad gender to bad grammar to bad conjugaison to bad accent and you have a severe desire to run away or switch to English not to suffer too much :))


After a lot of French meetup attendance I can understand that, I find that bad French hurts my ears. Which I realise is completely hypocritical since my own is far from perfect and I make my share of basic mistakes too, but at least it helps me understand the attitude and not get upset when I encounter it :).

Here in the UK the anti-intellectual attitude is also quite common, although of course it depends on who you hang around with. My main problem with talking about French culture with my friends or colleagues isn't fear of sounding pretentious, it's just that nobody can relate because they're not familiar with it, much like I can't relate when they talk about US movies/series or fantasy novels. But then if I talked about it with the people I went to school with, I'm sure they'd also find it pretentious and overly intellectual.
1 person has voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3054 days ago

3277 posts - 6777 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 1242 of 1317
10 June 2015 at 12:19pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for another native perspective, Geoff, I hadn't thought the trouble could be so spread across the american culture.

The problem is that I've got two main sources of exposure to the american culture:
1:natives I've met in Europe, which are probably part of the more intelectual minority, as it seems. Many Americans obviously don't have the need to travel. And a lot of american books and movies portray the US as quite a normally stratified country when it comes to intelect.
2:The rest of the media and sources like 9gag and a lot of experience of travellers. Many claim the americans to be mostly stupid and intolerant, especially in some parts of the country. But I must admit I had hard time believing the morons could be prevalent in such a sucessful country.

Here you can also have trouble with being more of an intelectual than expected, especially when you are a child, but it is a problem specific to some groups of people, fortunately not a dominant way to think for the society. (The only exception being the politicians, there the stupid ones often have the upper hand:-( )

People cannot relate to some other areas of my life either, my cultural tastes are not the most important or most weird thing about me, so I might just be used to it and not take it as such a big deal. But I agree it can be unpleasant at times.

I think part of the trouble is the anglo-centralized approach of many tv channels, book publishers, radios and so on. I really wish the tvs would just notice and spread other european movies and tv series (preferably with subtitles. that would be cheaper as well), the publishers wouldn't notice primarily the US and UK (but I must admit the Czech publishers are still not that bad), and the radios might remember that good music is still good music no matter what language of the lyrics. After all, most czechs cannot understand English lyrics either, so why protect them from other languages.
1 person has voted this message useful



tastyonions
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
goo.gl/UIdChYRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2710 days ago

1044 posts - 1823 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Spanish
Studies: Italian

 
 Message 1243 of 1317
10 June 2015 at 3:18pm | IP Logged 
Certain languages have image problems in some parts of the United States. For French that is "snooty" and sometimes "left-wing." On the other hand, tell people you are learning Norwegian or Greek and some of them will be curious why. Or they may just draw a blank and chalk you up as an eccentric. :-)
1 person has voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3577 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 1244 of 1317
10 June 2015 at 4:25pm | IP Logged 
geoffw wrote:
Cavesa wrote:
The "problem" is that you are a true intelectual interested in Voltaire and the French language is just the final
touch. It is much easier for people around to think "what a wannabe" than "ouch, there might be some gaps in my
education", it is not a US specific thinking. I don't have this trouble, I sound geeky when speaking about my French
reading just like about any other reading. :-D

Maybe the stereotype based in truth hasn't made it's way to you, or maybe you're just being kind and circumspect.
My experience was that there is a common attitude in US culture that being brainy or an intellectual is, in and of
itself, something to be ashamed of, and something that makes you less macho, if male, or less feminine, if female
(strange, but true). Perhaps the rise of the Geek and the dot-com economy pushed back against this a bit, but I
think the underlying attitude is still here, and has old and deep roots.

OK, so I suspect it would be interesting and worthwhile to expand on this point. There's a very tricky cultural nuance here, and it's hard for me to explain. Now, certainly, we do have plenty of anti-intellectualism in the US. And that certainly plays some role here.

But at the same time, there's a certain strain of US culture that thinks:

"Oh, the French, they're just so classy and intellectual and sexy and they make such brilliant films and they're better than us in every way, and I wish that I had more of that elegant and wonderful culture in my life."

This is similar to a what anthropologists call "exotification": When you don't actually understand a culture, it's easy to project all kinds of fantasies onto it. For some Americans, French culture holds a huge symbolic value, proving that sophisticated and classy people actually do exist.

There's a passage I remember from Modern Manners, an otherwise rather forgettable humor book by P.J. O'Rourke, which satirizes this US attitude towards all things French:



Now, "Babs", above, is a comedic exaggeration. I've never met anybody like her, nor even heard of anybody like her second-hand. But she's an exaggeration of something which most Americans would recognize, a cultural tendency that helps turn books like French Women Don't Get Fat and Bringing up Bébé into best-sellers. And these books, of course, contain large quantities of exotification.

And you can see a slightly less ridiculous version of this if you visit any Alliance Française library. For example, let's take the amazing library at the French Cultural Center in Boston. Now, they have a great children's section with lots of fun stuff. But if we wander into the adult stacks, and start browsing at random, a pattern rapidly becomes clear:

- You can find tons of high-brow books about French philosophy, art and culture.
- You can find plenty of "literature", the kind of stuff that everybody thinks is admirable, but which few people read at the beach.
- You can find plenty of films d'art et d'essai, as my tutor described them.

But do you want, say, a bit of light reading for the beach? Or a popular CD? Or a copy of a dumb comedy like Taxi? Or a good French dub of an HBO series? Good luck with that. The people who use the French Cultural Center are a million miles from the satirical "Babs" above—for one thing, many of them speak excellent French—but at the same time, they do still value France as a symbol of high culture.

And so to tie this back to my earlier post, if I say:

"Hey, the Eloquent Peasant is surprisingly good literature—even as modern people think of literature—for something written 4000 years ago," that carries the message, "I am a huge geek, and also I think the Eloquent Peasant is pretty cool." Both of these things are perfectly accurate. My friends are all huge geeks in their own ways, so we're cool.

But if I say, "Actually, Voltaire's Candide can be pretty fun, in a heavy-handed and cynical sort of way," I sometimes fear that people hear me saying, "I am a very important intellectual and I do intellectual things and you should be very impressed," because sometimes French culture does get used that way in the US. But what I want to say is, "Actually, Voltaire can be entertainingly snarky and cynical, even when he doesn't hold up as a philosopher."

Now, I have nothing against high-brow French culture. And if you personally enjoy it, then I think you should totally go ahead and do that just as hard as you can. But me, I'm here just as much for the silly internet videos as for anything else. I enjoy French culture, some of it immensely, but I don't really find it to be especially exotic anymore. I'm reminded of an observation that I've heard in various forms from several students of French: "When I first arrived in France, I would listen to people on the Metro, and imagine all the sophisticated things they must be talking about. Now that I understand them, I know they're talking about how their kid barfed last night and about the latest game." People are pretty much people everywhere, as far as I can tell. And at this point in my life, I'm totally OK with this. :-)
5 persons have voted this message useful



Ogrim
Heptaglot
Senior Member
France
Joined 2684 days ago

991 posts - 1893 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, English, Spanish, French, Romansh, German, Italian
Studies: Russian, Catalan, Latin, Greek, Romanian

 
 Message 1245 of 1317
10 June 2015 at 4:56pm | IP Logged 
Great text emk. I think this idea of everything French being sophisticated and classy is quite widespread, not only in the USA but elsewhere. A somewhat different example of this would be the Paris syndrome that especially Japanese tourists suffer from. Amongst other it seems to be caused by the disparity between the idealised picture they have of Paris (beautiful, elegant, romantic, classy people) and the reality (noisy, polluted, stressful, unpleasant waiters).

It may be true that the French more than Americans look up to their "intellos" and are proud of their high-brow culture, but still, it's comedy, sport and reality TV that sell here as well. The high-brow TV channel ARTE has a negligible part of the overall audience.
1 person has voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3577 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 1246 of 1317
10 June 2015 at 5:11pm | IP Logged 
It's time for some more French links!

- tastyonions was explaining the concept of the bobos (bourgeois-bohème) to me, and he linked me to this song by Renaud. You can also find the lyrics online.

- The French dub of The Matrix starts out rather mediocre, but it's pretty fun when Morpheus starts talking a lot. As often happens with dubbed films, my comprehension was over 90% right out the gate. But I had to go to bed pretty early on.

- I am hugely impressed by the podcast Mauvais genres. This has apparently been running for at least 15 years, and it looks like there's one two-hour show per week. This is a podcast about books, but specifically about "genre" books: mysteries, science fiction, fantasy, and so on. And they bring on translators, academics and tons of other interesting people. If you have a soft spot for "genre", and you love to geek out about books, this is definitely worth checking out. Scroll back a ways and look for a episode that really interests you; there's a ton of variety here.

- Now that Francophone TV has settled down a bit, it looks as if I don't have the 5-day rewind. I think that's going to be an extra option. But after more or less having it for a day, I think I'd pay up to $5 per month. Even with the extra option, it's still a third the price of English-language cable around here.

UPDATE: OK, this is strange. Francophone TV sends me emails in perfectly normal French, but when I call their phone number, I get an English recording, complete with "Bonjour" in the accent of somebody who speaks basically no French. This is startling, because VoilaTV was always hardcore francophone—they wouldn't switch into English even when explaining how to reflash a cable box. On top of that, the phone menu doesn't actually work. This may be why the phone number was visible onscreen two days ago, but has since disappeared. You know, I'm absolutely certain the some fellow geeks somewhere are pulling out their hair and working hard to get the new system up and running. :-)

Edited by emk on 10 June 2015 at 5:25pm

3 persons have voted this message useful



YnEoS
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2299 days ago

472 posts - 893 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: German, Russian, Cantonese, Japanese, French, Hungarian, Czech, Swedish, Mandarin, Italian, Spanish

 
 Message 1247 of 1317
10 June 2015 at 6:06pm | IP Logged 
emk wrote:

OK, so I suspect it would be interesting and worthwhile to expand on this point. There's a very tricky cultural nuance here, and it's hard for me to explain. Now, certainly, we do have plenty of anti-intellectualism in the US. And that certainly plays some role here.

But at the same time, there's a certain strain of US culture that thinks:

"Oh, the French, they're just so classy and intellectual and sexy and they make such brilliant films and they're better than us in every way, and I wish that I had more of that elegant and wonderful culture in my life."

This is similar to a what anthropologists call "exotification": When you don't actually understand a culture, it's easy to project all kinds of fantasies onto it. For some Americans, French culture holds a huge symbolic value, proving that sophisticated and classy people actually do exist.


There's definitely a dichotomy in America where French intellectual culture is highly respected by some, sometimes absentmindedly so, and offhandedly dismissed as pretentious by others. Interestingly American and British philosophy tends to be more grounded in scientific thinking, but Film and Literature departments in American Universities are much more heavily influenced by French philosophers than local ones, which has led to some strange situations where university students wanting to write about film or literature using evolutionary, economic, and statistical methods have sometimes had to go outside their department to do so because in their film/literature department only post-modern, post-structuralist, deconstructionist, etc readings of films/literature were permitted, and any use of scientific methods would just be seen as reinforcing the dominant capitalist ideology or whatever. I believe there's more more blending and communication between the two schools over the past few decades so the actual situation today may be a bit more complex and nuanced, but from what I've heard the divide still is very visible.

My personal experience was at a film school that was much more focused on film production than film theory, so there was definitely an anti intellectual climate towards anyone who watched old/foreign movies and I was often labeled a "stereotypical film student" regardless of if I was showing interest in French arthouse cinema from the 1960s, or French crime serials from the 1910s. Of the handful of students I met who also had an interest in more than just modern American films, there was definitely a self-consciousness about sounding too pretentious and most of us could talk about lowbrow, middlebrow or highbrow movies just as easily and would frequently downplay our interests in arthouse cinema.


These things of course are more complex than the labels we give and get more confusing as different groups build their own narratives about what the other group is like. I think the lashback against American obsession with French intellectualism, has produced some much needed skepticism towards some rather dubious philosophical methods, but there's also a strain of knee-jerk anti-intellectualism that conflates any sort of interest in French culture with pretentious elitism.

Edited by YnEoS on 10 June 2015 at 6:08pm

2 persons have voted this message useful



Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3054 days ago

3277 posts - 6777 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 
 Message 1248 of 1317
10 June 2015 at 6:22pm | IP Logged 
Well, here are the French speakers and students considered automatically to be francophile and adore the country and politics without reason. I don't know why because once you understand a nation in their own language, you can understand their morons as well.The French just gather stereotypes anywhere in the world it appears.

Thanks for the mauvais genres link!!!


1 person has voted this message useful



This discussion contains 1317 messages over 165 pages: << Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165  Next >>


Post ReplyPost New Topic Printable version Printable version

You cannot post new topics in this forum - You cannot reply to topics in this forum - You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum - You cannot create polls in this forum - You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page was generated in 0.3594 seconds.


DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Copyright 2019 FX Micheloud - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.