Saturday, 18 May 2013

Paris, Language, and Stereotypes, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the City

After a month I've decided I should clear up a few things, and give a few insights into what life is like in Paris after a month, with three more to go.

The city. At first glance it looks to have the chaotic undertones of a Mediterranean metropolis, little enforcement of laws, lax road regulations and little state involvement. Upon further searching I have realized this to not be the case at all. Hundreds of years of (semi-modern) city development has resulted in Paris becoming an organic entity, its streets, people, buildings, public systems, political changes, social capital and economy all reflecting an old-growth forest of types with huge biomass, and a strong degree of adaptability.This topic of the city will be the focus of these posts so I won't dwell on it much now.

The language. Having a very basic level of French here is enough to get by here if necessary. Most people I have met are bilingual at the very least, and are looking to speak English anyways as a way of showing off or even to practice their English. I have improved my French already to the degree that I can speak freely with people, as long as I have time to think before speaking, and am much better off if the person speaks no English at all, as they'll see me struggling and just start speaking Eng. = not good for learning the language.

1. Parisians are rude to anyone who doesn't speak French: This stereotype I have found to be completely faulty, and of course with a bias behind it. Anglophones likely have the idea that everywhere, everyone should speak English, and we shouldn't make an attempt to make conversation. If you take this approach, I'm sure you'll be met with some rudeness, and if someone came to my store/taxi/resto demanding I speak a foreign language I would likely be rude as well. They're fine here, just make a slight attempt to speak French, or don't assume they speak English and go full-on.

2. Parisians eat baguette, drink wine all day, love cheese more than their children, and smoke like its not out of style. True. True, but also drink beer. True, love cheese and premium cheese is cheap. true.

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1 comment:

  1. Glad to get an update from you! Sounds like you're having fun and thank you for breaking those stereotypes. I'll hopefully see you there in July :)