Monday, 5 April 2010

French = Cultured?

It seems to me that people in Britain (and America too by the looks of things, though of course I have far less experience of that being British) regard anything French as ‘cultured’. If something is said in French it’s automatically regarded as being a clever comment and wine is considered a more cultured drink than lager (Lambrini anyone?). I know wine comes from all over the world, but stereotypically it seems to be regarded as a French thing once again. This just all seems a little daft to me.

I work part time as a cleaner in a clothing shop. I was there this morning and I noticed two supposedly ‘fashionable’ (let’s not get into that one shall we? I could go on all day about ‘fashion’ – note the heavily emphasised speech marks and imagine I said that in the most sarcastic voice you can muster – but that’s not the subject of this article, so I’ll save that rant for later) T-shirts with French on the front. One said “Mais oui...” which, if my B-at-GCSE-level French doesn’t fail me means “But yes...” But yes what? But yes I will have sausages for breakfast? But yes I do like dancing the conga with Gordon Brown? But yes I did once drive around a Milton Keynes roundabout 23 times with a goat in the boot of my car while beeping my horn to the tune of the Rocky theme? You see? It sounds stupid in English doesn’t it?

The other one had a picture of the Eiffel Tower on it and said underneath simply “Ville de London”, which means (if my French doesn’t fail me once again) literally “Town of London” or maybe “London town” taken a little less literally. Now correct me if I’ve got my geography wrong here but I’m pretty sure London has absolutely nothing to do with France, and the Eiffel Tower is nowhere near London. So what does that T-shirt even mean?! If it mentioned Paris, it may have been forgivable, since Paris is actually at least in France and the Eiffel Tower is indeed in Paris. But London? I mean seriously....

The point I’m trying to make here (if there even is one to be found) is the fact that French things being considered cultured annoys me. You don’t see German things considered as cultured, or Spanish things, or Japanese things even, not as often as you see French things anyway. In my mind it just represents society’s need to be told what to think instead of making its mind up for itself.

No comments: