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The Bonjour Effect
The Bonjour Effect: The Secret Codes of French Conversation Revealed | Jean-Benoit Nadeau, Julie Barlow
22 posts | 4 read | 2 reading | 30 to read
Jean-Benot Nadeau and Julie Barlow spent a decade traveling back and forth to Paris as well as living there. Yet one important lesson never seemed to sink in: how to communicate comfortably with the French, even when you speak their language. In The Bonjour Effect Jean-Benot and Julie chronicle the lessons they learned after they returned to France to live, for a year, with their twin daughters. They offer up all the lessons they learned and explain, in a book as fizzy as a bottle of the finest French champagne, the most important aspect of all: the French don't communicate, they converse. To understand and speak French well, one must understand that French conversation runs on a set of rules that go to the heart of French culture. Why do the French like talking about "the decline of France"? Why does broaching a subject like money end all discussion? Why do the French become so aroused debating the merits and qualities of their own language? Through encounters with school principals, city hall civil servants, gas company employees, old friends and business acquaintances, Julie and Jean-Benot explain why, culturally and historically, conversation with the French is not about communicating or being nice. It's about being interesting. After reading The Bonjour Effect, even readers with a modicum of French language ability will be able to hold their own the next time they step into a bistro on the Left Bank.
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review
BarbaraTheBibliophage
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Pickpick

What The Bonjour Effect details is not how to speak French, but the conversation and language conventions used by the French. It‘s more of a social history, with a large dose of language and linguistics thrown in. It‘s approachable, funny, and a great balance between history and personal stories from the authors. Definitely recommend if you‘re planning a trip to France anytime.

Full review http://www.TheBibliophage.com
#thebibliophage2019

twohectobooks This sounds excellent! Another motivation for me to practise my French mire, perhaps.. 6mo
MellieAntoinette Agreed. This was an enjoyably fresh take on navigating La Belle France. 6mo
BarbaraTheBibliophage @twohectobooks It makes you want to be there—and practice to prepare! 6mo
BarbaraTheBibliophage @MellieAntoinette Glad you also liked it! 6mo
102 likes12 stack adds4 comments
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BarbaraTheBibliophage
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I read some of this before we left, and am still reading it here. The first chapter is a must, since it discusses the everpresence of “bonjour.” The best greeting I‘ve had since arriving was the 3-4 year old girl who greeted me as she was running down the stairs to the ladies‘ loo with her mom. The French train them young, and everyone greets you, as you greet them back. It‘s more genuine and yet somehow not more over-friendly than in the U.S.🇫🇷

Alex20 Hello how you doing I can see you read alot of books so I was wondering if we could be friends am still very new to English 7mo
Stacy_31 Stacking! We are going to London and Paris next year. This sounds like it will be a bit helpful. 😁😁 7mo
Lynnsoprano It‘s the same in Czech with “Dobry den.” And when you respond in their language, they are much more open to you as a foreigner. Same thing happened in Quebec when we used Bonjour 7mo
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BarbaraTheBibliophage @Alex20 Sure. I will follow you too. If you want more friends, I‘d suggest you make your account public instead of private. (edited) 7mo
BarbaraTheBibliophage @Stacy_31 I think you‘ll appreciate it! 7mo
BarbaraTheBibliophage @Lynnsoprano Yes, most of the Parisians I‘ve run into are at least a little bilingual, unlike Americans. I could have worked harder at my French, but I‘m glad I have what I have. Nice to know the Czech version! 7mo
99 likes4 stack adds6 comments
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BarbaraTheBibliophage
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Bonjour, new books! I‘m so happy you‘re here with me. Doesn‘t everyone greet their Book Outlet Boxing Day Book order like this? Or maybe I‘m the only one! #bookhaul #bookoutlet #bonjournewbooks

Leftcoastzen I think mine are coming today!Oh my , I could not put this one down 10mo
Reviewsbylola Mine came Saturday and I was overjoyed! 10mo
emilyhaldi Omg me too!! @Leftcoastzen I recommend it to everyone ❤️❤️❤️ 10mo
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kellyann28 Nice haul! 10mo
Emilymdxn Radical hope looks super cool! 10mo
BarbaraTheBibliophage @Leftcoastzen @emilyhaldi Oooh! Two recommendations that make me want to start it NOW. Thanks! 10mo
BarbaraTheBibliophage @Emilymdxn Yeah, I‘m super excited about it! 10mo
133 likes8 comments
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GripLitGrl
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Cinfhen #GreatMinds 💚You beat me...I was gonna go with 1y
Kalalalatja 🇫🇷🇫🇷🇫🇷 1y
GripLitGrl @Cinfhen 😀yes great minds! 😉loved Madeline growing up still do. 1y
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MellieAntoinette
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Mehso-so

Meh - best suited for the library

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MellieAntoinette
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The popularity of la dictée, invented in the 1840s when teachers were looking for a new method to teach French, is largely due to the fact that French grammar is often inaudible—most plurals, for instance, cannot be heard, and many nuances of verb tenses are not apparent in oral speech, only in writing.

Word! I loved la dictée!

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Lindy
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At the end of the war, after France was liberated from the Germans, the French threw the nationalist baby out with the bathwater and, until the terrorist attacks of 2015, most French intuitively equated displays of nationalism with fascism.

Suet624 That's interesting... 3y
I-read-and-eat I think this happend all over Europe. Here in the Netherlands we had the same thing happening. Only the last few years nationalism has made its comeback. But still we often find these people to be narrowminded and/or fascist. And in Germany they are even more afraid of nationalism. But again, recent events changed this in most European countries where right wing nationalist parties get more and more support. 3y
Lindy @I-read-and-eat It is so good that on Litsy we can get perspectives from around the world. Thanks for adding your comments. 3y
48 likes1 stack add3 comments
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Lindy
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Pickpick

I learned a lot more than I expected in this entertaining resource written by a Québécois couple. If you don't have time for the whole book, skip to the epilogue, which offers 12 Guiding Principles of French Conversation. My favourite: "The French say no even when they mean yes."

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Lindy
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Officials are forbidden from asking questions about race and religion, so it's impossible for anyone to factually assess any situation related to race and religion in any objective manner. More important, it's impossible to disprove the inflammatory rhetoric of the National Front Party with numbers. There are none.

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Lindy
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When we arrived in France, we tried to open a bank account, but since we came from abroad and were self-employed, 3 banking institutions told us they "could not" open an account for us. Their claim was not only false. It was also illegal. The Bank of France had intervened 51,000 times in 2013 to force French banks to follow the law.

Verity I remember circling around when I arrived in France for my year abroad at uni trying to persuade my accommodation to let me in without a RIB and the bank to let me get an account (So I could get a RIB) without a proof of address. And the faces they pulled when I asked how I could change my PIN number on my bank card... (edited) 3y
Lindy @Verity How frustrating! They are masters of bureaucracy. 3y
Verity @Lindy they truly are. Never have I needed so many passport photos, proofs of id and bits of paper. I never did get my housing deposit back (only about (f8 mind) because they would only pay it into a French bank account after I had left the accommodation and I had already shut my bank account because it had a monthly fee and you had to be there in person to close it! 3y
Lindy @Verity 😫 3y
44 likes4 comments
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Lindy
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Prior to the French Revolution, the French were taxed on apparent wealth, not real wealth. Tax collectors literally looked at people's homes and drew up the bill.

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Lindy
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It wasn't until the 1990s that the French began to wake up to the fact that there are considerably more French speakers outside France than inside. The numbers today are significant: 275 million people speak French in the world, in 4 dozen countries. France accounts for only 1/4 of the total, but has never considered the French-speaking world as a potential source of strength.

saguarosally It reminds me of the fact that the second largest Spanish speaking country in the world is the United States. 3y
Lindy @saguarosally Ha! I didn't know that. 3y
38 likes2 comments
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Lindy
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The French are voracious consumers of bandes dessinées, and comics, usually referred to by the acronym BD (bay-day), are considered an art form of their own. France is the world's third market for comics after Japan and the US, but it represents a staggering 12% of the publishing business, compared to 8% in the US.

Lindy My nose competes with Asterix at the comics museum in Brussels. 3y
Lindy Also, the Asterix series has sold over 360 million copies in 107 languages. 3y
HardcoverHearts I grew up with Asterix and Oblelix and it was through those comics that I developed a love of double entendres and puns. I still remember feeling very smart when one of the names of the Gauls finally clicked with me. I loved it! 3y
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shawnmooney I assume this is an aesthetic contest, in which case Lindy's nose wins, hands-down… Or is that nostrils-down? 3y
Lindy @shawnmooney Thanks! I like my nose better too. 3y
Lindy @HardcoverHearts Me too. Loved them. Immediately recognized the homage in Chad Solomon's comics 3y
39 likes6 comments
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Lindy
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Linguistic nitpicking is a pretty popular pastime in France. It's not the exclusive domain of France's elite or literary circles. French people from all backgrounds talk about semantic nuances. It's one of the most startling peculiarities of French culture.

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Lindy
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My mother's first language was French and I attended a French language school, but I had no idea that the dictation exercises we did (from Grade 2-12) are a unique ritual of French education. It makes sense, however, because as the authors point out: "French grammar is often inaudible." Anyone else remember dictées?

Spiderfelt Access to French immersion education in majority Anglophone provinces is one of the stellar aspects of the Canadian education system. I attended a French immersion school for four years, Grades 2-6, but it was enough of a start to make my understanding of the language so intuitive that I have difficulty explaining grammar rules to my daughter, now in her 3rd Year of high school French. 3y
saresmoore That's very cool! I do a lot of dictation exercises with my girls for homeschool. According to modern understanding of brain development, it's the best way to learn in the grammar stage. I am envious of the Canadian education system! 3y
Lindy @Spiderfelt Did you do a lot of dictation in immersion classes? We didn't have immersion in St Paul, because the school was for children from francophone families. Much memorization of grammar rules such as passé simple. (Which nobody uses any more.) 3y
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Lindy @saresmoore Education is under provincial purview, so it varies across the country. Alberta has an outdated system which has resulted in publicly-funded Catholic schools. Causes conflicts in following provincial guidelines about being inclusive about lgbtq issues in schools. 3y
Spiderfelt I don't recall whether we did dictation. That was many years ago and I was pretty young. I do recall endlessly conjugating verbs in high school. When I moved to Montreal for college I felt utterly unprepared to converse with people, lacking most of the quotidian vocabulary necessary to function. 3y
saresmoore @Lindy Wow, I can imagine that would cause issues! This is really fascinating. 3y
SaraFair Very interesting and I am so jealous of your being bilingual. I took 4 years of French in public high school and 4 years in college. Even back then I probably would have been lost in conversation with a Parisian. Immersion is what we needed to grasp it I think. 3y
Lindy @Spiderfelt Did you find that your language skills improved through use while you were in Montreal? Do you still live there? 3y
Lindy @SaraFair In learning languages beyond my first two, I had to get over my fear of making mistakes. I try to use a new language as much as possible and learn more as I go. 3y
Spiderfelt I lived in Montreal for 3 years while studying at an English university, working during the summer in jobs that required me to sink or swim. No one would ever confuse me for a Francophone, but there was a time when I didn't embarrass myself. 3y
Lindy @Spiderfelt Ah, that's good! In this book about French culture, I've learned that in France it is far more important not to embarrass oneself than it is in North America. 3y
30 likes2 stack adds11 comments
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Lindy

In today's French, 'copain' implies a love relation. Strangely, the French have no direct translation of 'girlfriend' or 'boyfriend.' Quebeckers do. They call a girlfriend 'une blonde' and a boyfriend, 'un chum.'

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Lindy
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Though it translates as "good day," bonjour has several meanings, none of which have anything to do with the day. The most primary function of bonjour is to announce, "I am here." In France, you don't really exist until you say so. I greet therefore I am.

41 likes2 stack adds
review
rabbitprincess
Pickpick

Highly interesting, especially for those who are familiar with Quebec French and want to know what France French culture is like. The chapters on language appealed to me most. The chapter on school and "culture générale" made me want to read more non-fiction with a vengeance! It is fun to know stuff.

Lindy I'm with you on this kind of fun: lifelong learning. 👍 3y
rabbitprincess @Lindy There's a magazine in France called L'éléphant that contains articles on all sorts of topics. I love the idea of something like that! It would inspire so many reading tangents ? 3y
Lindy @rabbitprincess That sounds similar to the Utne Reader, maybe? 3y
rabbitprincess @Lindy I think in terms of variety of topics, it could be similar. I think L'éléphant does more original content rather than reprinting existing articles, though this assessment is based on rather cursory Internet research. 3y
Lindy I will try to remember to look for L'elephant when I'm in Paris next year. The title has a built-in mnemonic, fortunately. (Q: Who will remember the title I've forgotten? A: The elephant!) 3y
17 likes1 stack add5 comments
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rabbitprincess
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I must admit I'd probably avoid using tax shelters for that reason as well (although in my case it would be the Canada Revenue Agency, not les Finances publiques).

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rabbitprincess

The Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France monitors various fields, reports back on English or other foreign words creeping into French vocabulary, and then "comes up with equivalents for these words, or finds already existing French ones, which they often get from Quebec."

So this is the OQLF's cousin! (Office québécoise de la langue française) ?

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rabbitprincess
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Why yes I am sitting on the couch saying "pipole" to myself for no apparent reason. ?

LeahBergen And so am I now! 😀 3y
rabbitprincess @LeahBergen It is so fun to say! 3y
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rabbitprincess
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Bwaaaaahaha at the Quebec premier's name's etymology! 😆