No one but my mother’s perseverance is the reason for me speaking fluently French. From the day I was born, she sat me down every week and taught me all the ins and outs of one of the most romantic languages in the world. It wasn’t like learning French in school, where you’re waiting for the bell to save you and you don’t think about whatever you’ve just learned until you’re back in ‘French 101’. We spoke French as much as we could, and even my dad understands all of it. All because of my amazing mom.
So, yes, I speak French. Yes, it is amazing and I am proud. But I am not the one who deserves the praise. The praise is for the woman who also teached me how to cook, to be proud and to be myself.
For me, being French means being worldly. Some people think of the French as chauvinistic and strongly opinionated. Others think of the French as sophisticated and even sensual. Let’s just clear the air first by me saying I am 50 percent French. ‘Moitié français’.
That being said, I have a little bit of all the aforementioned characteristics. I am a proud Frenchie, but I am also very interested in other cultures and learning more of them. I voice my opinions with care and good timing, but I am always interested in other ideas on the matter in question. I act sophisticated and womanly at times that I need to, but I also find great pleasure in wearing my kicks and not minding anyone else’s business than mine. I am also a physical and sensual woman, who likes to look good for herself and her man, but logically, at times I feel anything but sexy.
My family is from the north of France. Which, as you might already know, has a whole different species of French than the people in the south of France where I have lived for a time as an au pair. If you have seen the movie ‘Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis’, you know exactly what I’m talking about. Have you not, then I will explain it to you.
Dans le nord, we drink beer (‘a lot of beer to stay warm here in the North’, as Philippe would say), say putain every 15 seconds and end our sentences with bear-like growls. “Il fait froid dans le nord, HEIN!” . Also, you can feel totally integrated in the north once they start calling you biloute. Biloute is one of my favorite words from the north. It’s an affectionate term to call a family member or friend. “Tu vas oú, biloute, HEIN?”
Dans le sud, we drink stronger alcohol like Ricard or Pastis, we crease our eyebrows when it rains and we love to unnecessary lengthen our words and sentences. Which, to be honest, I find pretty charming after a while of getting used to it.
These differences could be compared to the differences between the south of Holland and the north of Holland. In the south of Holland, we have a so-called ‘flat and common dialect’. Some people even call it ‘vulgar’ at times. In the north of Holland, we call ourselves the proper dutch with our ‘civilized dialect’. Of course, it depends on the people’s viewpoints. Northeners find southeners a bit vulgar and a plain people. Southeners think of the northeners as a sometimes pretentious people with an exaggerated accent. These opinions and views seldom turn into disturbances and mayhem, but the differences are existent nonetheless.
As I’m writing these words, I’m wondering if people agree with me on this subject. And then I ask myself how in the world I’ve come to this subject in the first place.
Right, that’s it, I’m French. At least, sometimes I feel French. I don’t eat baguettes every day, I don’t wear a baret, I don’t smoke, I am not always on strike and I actually do shave my armpits. Ofcourse, these prejudices are silly and to be honest, I do feel French when I’m enjoying a good wine, and eating stinky cheese. I also love foie gras and escargots and I have been raised to taste everything at least once before saying no. I am extremely grateful for that, because this is also one of these things that defined my life. I simply do not walk away when something unknown is set onto my plate.
I just say: “Let’s!”
- Being my own adventure (nonamanon.wordpress.com)
- 5 Clichés of French abroad (alovelycomet.wordpress.com)
- Lens et Lille; North of France (unjournalparisien.wordpress.com)
- 40 Things You Need to Know About French Taboos (talkinfrench.com)