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La France

How French are you?

The Local, Aug 13

How many of these can you tick off?

You know "salut" means both "hello" and "goodbye" and are totally comfortable with that.

You have your CV translated into French, but it doesn't say "résumé" at the top.

You know "plus" means both "more" and "none left" and are also totally comfortable with that.

You no longer complain about dog poo on the sidewalk because you’ve developed an unbelievable sixth sense for avoiding it.

Parallel parking is an art that you’ve mastered by not caring about scratched or dented bumpers.  Double-parking on the road, and stopping your car at random to talk to friends is completely OK.

You’ve given up wild pub nights for quiet, calm French “soirées”: a small group of friends having lively intellectual conversations over a bottle or two of wine.

You have a job that actually requires you to speak some French.

You speak French well enough to practice the celebrated Gallic art of puns and wordplay.

You say "oui" at the same time as breathing in.

You’ve also added a plethora of Gallic gesticulations to your repertoire, including ratcheting your nose for saying "drunk".

You’re not concerned about the sex lives of politicians as long as they get the job done, but you complain frequently that they never get the job done.

Once a stressed-out workaholic, you wax lyrical about the 35-hour work week, the five weeks paid vacation, the extra "RTT" days, the restaurant vouchers and you haven't had a lunch while walking from one meeting to another for ages.

You’ve stopped worrying about deadlines and loss of profits and instead join much of the country for a month long vacation in August.

You know the words (and not just the tune) to the national anthem La Marseillaise.

Your road rage has transformed from angry muttering to full-on shouting matches with pedestrians and fellow motorists.

You are completely at one with French bureaucracy and have a huge filing cabinet at home full of pieces of paper you are too scared to throw away.

You no longer complain that the French welfare system is too generous to unemployed "chomeurs" after having had at least two lengthy periods out of work.

You no longer tip a euro every time you order a drink at a bar. In fact, you no longer tip at all. And you don't feel guilty.

You no longer try to get a pay rise by getting drunk and asking your boss on a work's night out but calmly make an appointment to speak to them during work hours.

You say “bonjour” in waiting rooms and shops, but you never smile too much.

That sunny smile, once aimed at anyone from your boss to your waiter, is now reserved only for close friends and family and when you're actually happy.

You look forward to May and filling in your annual tax returns.

You no longer use “How are you?” as a greeting without an expected answer, but only ask if you actually care.

You’ve traded in a monstrous Starbucks latté on-the-go for a tiny espresso or noisette on the terrace.

You no longer wish France would change but instead long for it to stay the same.

You don’t think twice about giving your friend constructive criticism on the cooking at a dinner party.

You agree that the French language needs to be protected and promoted against the omnipotence of English. [Non, c’est too much. Ed]

You shake your head when you hear long-term expats who don't speak French or don't even try.

You can no longer imagine having a quick meal in front of the TV.

You hide your religious beliefs from others fearing a verbal lynching.

When you move into a new apartment, you think it’s totally normal to have to buy cupboards, a refrigerator, a microwave, an oven, a washing machine, and other appliances you previously took for granted.

You’ve given up Marmite, Vegemite, or peanut butter for Nutella.

Whereas your French cheese knowledge once consisted of "smelly" and “blue", you can now recognize and describe at least a couple of dozen different varieties.

You no longer sweat at dinner parties when the cheese board comes out, because you know how to cut it.

You complain about the policies of the French government rather than the one in your home country.

You hate stereotypes of French people and your ears burn at criticism of France by other foreigners.

You accept strikes are held by "people fighting for their livelihoods".

You don't think jobseekers are benefit scroungers, but that they are just claiming what they have paid into the system.

You can pronounce the French word for "écureuil" without swallowing your tongue.

You now play "pétanque" with metal balls in the local square rather than with multi-coloured plastic ones on a beach.

You have a real French friend, maybe two.

You remember to take cash when you go to see the doctor.

You know you'll get some of that cash back because you managed to get a "carte vitale".

You accept that as a vegan you're always going to be looked at weirdly, and offered bacon from time to time.

You speak French to fellow English-speakers, when there are French people in the room.

You swear in French.

You can stay awake during the talkathon at French dinner parties.

You know how to cut a piece of Roquefort without bringing gasps from your hosts.

And lastly, you have at least three words of Verlan, France's backward language, in your repertoire and use them without thinking.


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