Lesson Transcript

Welcome to Fun &Easy French 2 by FrenchPod101.com!
Do you know that there are gestures you probably do all of the time, on every occasion, but are considered rude and offensive in France?
Salut, je suis Laureen.
"Hi everyone! I’m Laureen."
In this lesson, you’ll learn all about French body gestures.
Sometimes, gestures help us understand people and express ourselves better than the words we speak. If you want to meet new friends, be comfortable around French people, and communicate without being offensive or rude, learning the specifics of French body language and gestures is definitely something that will benefit you.
In this video, you'll learn
greeting gestures,
positive gestures,
negative gestures,
neutral gestures,
the reason why the French are "so rude", and
how Frenchpod101 can help you.
Let’s start with verbal greetings and their gestures.
There are different body gestures when greeting someone in France.
Let’s start with
Bonjour !
[SLOW] Bonjour !
Bonjour !
You can say this while raising your hand and waving your hand from side to side with a swaying motion.
It’s used in informal situations to greet or say goodbye when you don’t feel like doing handshakes or kisses or you’re out of arm-reach of the people you know. It’s a very common hand gesture used by the French.
Another way to greet someone is by saying,
[SLOW] Bienvenue.
You can do this at a casual event by opening up your arms and spreading them with a smile.
For formal occasions, open only one arm with a smile.
This is how you greet your friends or peers in a warm and enthusiastic way!
You can also greet your French friends through
La bise
which means "the kiss."
[SLOW] La bise
La bise
Just lean forward and slightly brush cheeks with the other person while mimicking a kiss, with the sound and lips gesture.
Then, switch cheeks and repeat.
If you want Se serrer la main,
which means "to shake hands",
[SLOW] Se serrer la main
Se serrer la main
you can do so by reaching toward someone’s hands and doing one or two up-and-down movements while looking at the person you’re greeting straight in the eyes.
Shaking hands is common among friends, colleagues, or strangers in France.
Next are positive gestures.
Let’s learn about French expressions and gestures that tend to have a positive connotation. You’ll surely find them useful next time you visit in France!
First up is Oui,
"Yes; Excellent!"
[SLOW] Oui !
Oui !
You can add to this by taking a fist and extending your thumb upward.
A thumbs-up gesture in France is an all-time classic. Although, if you’re from the U.K. and U.S., be careful when using "OK," where you join your index and thumb to make a circle. In several European countries, including France, it’s a negative sign meaning "Zero" or "Worthless."
Another positive gesture commonly used in France is related to the expression,
Ca va être génial !
"It’s gonna be great!"
[SLOW] Ca va être génial !
Ca va être génial !
You just have to rub your palms together when doing this. But you’re probably wondering what makes it a positive gesture when it can mean that you’re cold.
Depending on the context, rubbing your palms together usually conveys that you’re excited or expecting something amazing.
For example, you do this gesture when you’re expecting to make good money or before eating a gorgeous-looking meal.
[SLOW] Délicieux !
Délicieux !
it’s also another type of positive gesture in France. It means, "Delicious!"
It can be done by kissing the joined tips of your fingers and joyfully spreading them outward.
This gesture is also known as "The Italian Chef Kiss." You can use it when your French host is serving you a delicious authentic French meal!
Next are negative gestures.
There are also negative gestures in French or actions that are considered to be rude. Let’s get into them right away!
The first negative gesture is related to
[SLOW] Bof.
This means something like "I don’t care; I don’t know; I’m not sure."
It’s done by spreading your arms open with palms up, then raising and lowering your shoulders.
This infamous "Gallic shrug," has many different meanings, so it’s not the easiest one to pick up.
You can use it when you’re feeling indifferent, doubtful, or indecisive, but it can express a wide range of messages: "It’s not my fault," "There is nothing I can do," "Don’t ask me," and more.
You can also use Bof if you don’t want to commit to a straight answer. For example,
Je t’offre un verre ?
"Can I offer you a drink?"
[SLOW] Je t’offre un verre ?
Je t’offre un verre ?
You can answer with Bof.
C’est pas mon problème !
"Not my problem; Not my fault."
[SLOW] C’est pas mon problème !
C’est pas mon problème !
This another negative gesture that you might want to avoid doing.
In this gesture, people raise their hands slightly over their shoulders, palms toward the other person, with their head and shoulders defensively held back.
It’s a bit similar to the Bof shrug but is perceived as a stronger version where, instead of being indifferent or indecisive, you just don’t want anything to do with whatever you’re asked for.
Quelle barbe !
"What a drag!"; "Boring!" or literally: "What a beard!"
[SLOW] Quelle barbe !
Quelle barbe !
This is also a negative gesture in France.
It’s done by stroking your cheek a few times with the back of your fingers, like you’re caressing your beard.
This negative gesture comes from old Parisian slang and is only one of many beard-related French idioms.
You use this when you feel bored or are annoyed with the people around you but you’re in a situation where you’re not allowed to curse.
For example, you were assigned to do a tedious task at work, you can turn to your coworkers and stroke your imaginary beard.
Another example of a negative gesture is,
Mon oeil !
Meaning, "I don’t believe you; I highly doubt that."
[SLOW] Mon oeil !
Mon oeil !
It’s done by using your index finger, and pulling down the bottom lid of one eye.
This is the French version of the American "My foot!", to playfully express your disbelief or accuse someone of lying. This is a childish gesture though so it’s not really a good gesture for serious arguments or business negotiations.
If you’re feeling fed up, or have had enough of something really terrible, you may use,
J’en ai ras le bol !
Which means,
"I’m fed up; I’ve had enough."
[SLOW] J’en ai ras le bol !
J’en ai ras le bol !
When translated literally, it just means "My bowl is full," but in French slang, it has a unique meaning.
When doing it, you can just swipe your hand up horizontally over your head. Combined with an eloquent frown, you can use it to express your annoyance when trouble is piling way up over your head.
Next are neutral gestures.
Now, it’s time to learn some neutral gestures commonly used in France. They will help you respond appropriately or express yourself without getting misinterpreted.
First on the list is,
Chut !
"Shhh; Keep quiet."
[SLOW] Chut !
Chut !
This is done by simply extending your index finger and placing it vertically across your mouth.
You probably already know what this gesture means but since it can take different forms in some countries, it’s worth mentioning!
Viens !
"Come here!"
[SLOW] Viens !
Viens !
Is a neutral expression done by extending your index finger, palm up, and folding it in ward. It can also be done with all fingers at once.
Because this isn’t too obvious as it seems, it should be performed properly. For example, if you use the Japanese "palm down" version in France, it can be interpreted as rude and disrespectful.
Another neutral gesture you may want to practice is,
Comme ci comme ça.
"So-so; More or less."
[SLOW] Comme ci comme ça.
Comme ci comme ça.
Just place your hand in front of you, palm down, and tip it from left to right several times.
This convenient gesture can be used in formal or casual situations. For example, if you’re having a bad day and someone asks how you’re doing, you can use this gesture to respond.
Another French gesture that can express a wide variety of emotions ranging from surprise to annoyance, distress, or disappointment is,
Oh là là !
"Oh no!"; "Wow!"
[SLOW] Oh là là !
Oh là là !
You can do it by raising your hand in front of your chest and shaking it loosely, as if trying to revive your numb fingers.
You can also use it when you’re impressed or if someone’s in trouble.
One funny gesture used to let people know that you’re drunk or to raise their awareness of the intoxication of a third party is,
Avoir un coup dans le nez,
"To be drunk."
[SLOW] Avoir un coup dans le nez.
Avoir un coup dans le nez.
Literally, it means "To have a drink in the nose."
It’s done by placing a loose fist around the tip of your nose and rotate it as if trying to unscrew it.
Another example of a neutral gesture is,
C’est pas donné.
It’s expensive
[SLOW] C’est pas donné.
C’est pas donné.
Literally it means,"It’s not given."
But this informal gesture works in many situations where lots of money is involved. It’s most commonly used for something expensive but can also mean that something is lucrative.
For example, when reading the menu of a pricey restaurant, you could use this gesture toward your friends to tell them you can’t afford it and if you all could find a cheaper restaurant.
Just rub your thumb against the tips of your index and middle fingers when doing this gesture.
The last example of a neutral gesture is,
Il est fou; Elle est cinglée.
"He’s crazy; She’s nuts."
[SLOW] Il est fou; Elle est cinglée.
Il est fou; Elle est cinglée.
It’s done by tapping the side of your head with the tip of your index finger.
It’s a bit similar to the American crazy gesture that would also be understood in France. Obviously, this is a very informal gesture and could be offensive to strangers so only use it around your friends for humor!
Next is why the French are "so rude."
Don’t believe the rumor! French people aren’t rude, but still we can’t help but wonder, why do some people assume this? France remains one of the top tourism destinations in the world, so where did the "rude" assumption came from? Allow us to share two different explanations for this.
The first reason is body language and perception.
Body language is a big deal, more than you can imagine, both around the world and in French culture. Your posture and attitude speak volumes and people form an opinion right away based on your gestures.
For example, French people are more controlled than Americans in terms of body language.
Their shoulders and arms stay close to the body, their chest straight in overall rigidity.
The French look at it as an expression of restraint, but some call it being tense or stiff, which contributes to this impression of the French being cold and unwelcoming.
Another reason is the intonation and gestures.
Whatever space French people are taking when they move, they compensate for it when they talk!
They use physical gestures to express a wide range of emotions without words, mostly using their face and hands, and it’s easy to get the wrong impression if you don’t know the language nor the gestures.
Since the natural French intonation is also widely guilty of this impression, it makes the French sound angry, using sharp or abusive-sounding tones even though they were only having a friendly debate over lunch.
Now on to…
Part 5: How Can FrenchPod101 Help You Get a Job in France?
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In this lesson, you learned different types of positive, negative, and neutral gestures as well as how French people differ from other cultures or countries in terms of body language and intonation.
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That’s it for today!
A la prochaine!
See you next time!

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