French etiquette for the Chinese

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This is a post from one of my graduate students in France. She’s a Chinese national who has lived and studied in France for several years and has a strong understanding of French language and culture.

Enjoy!

Greg

关于客气

中国人会很注意 “客气”, 所以说话不会太直接, 会比较含蓄, 想的比较多, 大部分时候会给别人留面子, 不得罪人, 寻求对两方都好的结果。 法国人相对简单直接一些。

例如 我被邀请到法国人家吃饭, 按中国人的礼数, 客人会比较矜持, 不太会主动说要再添一些,一般会等主人问. (作为中国的主人会表现的很好客,时不时的问需要加菜吗 菜合胃口吗 要多吃啊 等等 主人会给客人直接夹菜 客人会说不用不用, 但是都接下了) 但是在法国,主人问我还要吗 我客气的回答说不用了, 按照他们的理解就是我说不用就是确实不用了,然后就不再添了。所以现在再去法国人家里做客时,潜意识里还是会有这种客气存在,但是也会随情况比较直接的表达。 反过来也挺有意思, 当我请法国人到我家来吃饭的时候,也会不自觉得给他们添很多饭菜,会客套很多次, 即便他们说够了不需要了,也还是希望继续客套。

About « kind or standing on ceremony »

Chinese will pay great attention to “kind” or “stand on ceremony”, so to speak not too direct, be more implicative, think more, most of the time will give others face, can not be the sinners, seek to both sides are good results. French are relatively simple and direct.

For example, I was invited to dinner in a French family, according to Chinese etiquette, the guest will be more reserved, not too active to say to want adding some, generally wait for the host ask me. (Usually, Chinese host will be played very hospitable, occasionally ask “do you need some more? Dose the food fit to your appetite? Eat more!…” so the host will give the food directly to the guest’s bowl sometime. And the guest will say “no,no…” but they accept. ) But in France, the host ask whether I want some more? I politely said “no”, but according to their understanding when I said “no” it means really no, and then they are no longer added. So now, when I was invited again to the French family, even though it exist this kind of “kind” in my subconscious, I can express more directly according to the situation. In reverse, it is also quite interesting. When I invite some French friends to dinner at my house, I will les add or service unconsciously, stand on ceremony many times, even if they said “no”, “don’t need”, I hope still to continue do this “kind” …

但是在关于打招呼的礼节上, 中国人好像没有法国人那么 客气

法国人在见面时,无论熟识度,都会有行为上的打招呼。比如 男女之间或者女人女人之间贴面礼,男人之间握手。 对我来说比较有意思的是,如果你到一个地方,已经有不少人在场了,有些时候你需要挨个人行贴面礼或握手。 在中国, 熟人见面一般不握手, 点个头或者问声好或者找个无关紧要的话题寒暄几句。 但如果是很久不见或者第一次见并且比较重要的客人, 要握手相迎。 当我刚来法国的时候,有一次在学校的走廊里,已经有不少同班同学在那等着上课, 这时我们班的另一个法国男同学来了, 他非常自然地和男生握手,女生贴面礼, 整整转了一个走廊,像是开表彰大会。在中国可能只有男女朋友或夫妻之间会有类似贴面礼的行为,所以一开始时我认为第一个和这个后来的男生贴面礼的是他的女朋友, 但后来不对啊, 1个2个3 个4 ,5,6。。。。。。然后明白只是一种正常的礼数而已。

However, about the etiquette of greet, it seems that Chinese are not so “kind” like French.

When French meet, what ever you are familiar or not, they will bisous or shake hands. If between women and men or between women, they say hello by bisous, if between men, generally they say hello by shaking hands. But in China, generally, when we meet, we nod or say hello directly, or do some greeting like “ the weather today is …” but not really pay attention to the weather. In general, we shake hands when we meet the friends that we haven’t met long time or we meet each other in the first time or for important customers. When I just came in France, one time, in the corridor of university, there are already a number of students waiting for the class, another French student came in that moment, he bisous or shake hands with all of the classmates in the corridor, like in a commendation congress. In China, it exist the behavior like bisous between couples or very good friends, so in the beginning, I think the first girl that he do bisous is his girlfriend, and after that… no, 2, 3, 4, 5…so I knew that this is just a kind of etiquette.

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