Mind your manners Posted by Tim Hildreth on Feb 28, 2017 in Culture, Vocabulary
The French are very big on manners and following the rules of étiquette. You can read here about the rules for gift giving, here for proper greetings, and here for the rules for kissing (yes, they even have rules for that!). But do you know where the rules come from?The rules of French etiquette, from the French word étiquette (literally meaning a tag or label*), are often attributed to the period of Louis XIV as ways for the king to both accommodate and control the vast number of nobles whom he compelled to join him at the palace of Versailles (Louis believed in keeping his friends close, and his enemies closer!) Over time, the rules of courtly etiquette spread throughout society as people sought to appear more sophisticated and “noble” themselves.
Society is generally less formal today, but many people still follow the rules of etiquette and view good manners as a sign of “good breeding”. I still know some families in France where the children vouvoient leurs parents and where whole pieces of fruit are only eaten at the dinner table with a knife and fork (next time you’re in the mood for une belle pomme / a nice apple or une poire juteuses** / a juicy pear, try eating it on a plate, peeling it using just your knife and fork!)
Shifting gears just a bit: Did you get to see the Oscars ceremony this weekend? It was a fun event – though not without controversy – at which France was particularly well represented. From Best Actress nominee Isabelle Hupert and Best Animated Feature Film nomineesMy Life as a Zucchini and The Red Turtle, to nominations for Best Documentary, Best Costume Design, and Best Achievement in Visual Effects, French artists were up for a total of 9 awards.
If you liked La La Land, why not check out one of the French films often cited as inspiration for the film. You can see the trailers below, or click to find out more about Les demoiselles de Rochefort (The young girls of Rochefort) and Les parapluies de Cherbourg (The umbrellas of Cherbourg).
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