Monday, 12 November 2007

Vous or Tu?!

This vouvoyer and tutoyer business is serious.

Sr. Joan Marie in French class taught us well, that in polite society, you always use the "vous" form of "you". That means if you meet someone you don't know, you automatically use the "vous" form out of respect. The "tu" form is used only for close acquaintances, family, or people that are hierarchically down a notch from you. For example, an employer may tutoyer an employee, but it would be unacceptable for the employee to tutoyer the employer (unless the employer encourages it). So much for "égalité and fraternité".

As we set off on our trip to the South of France, there was a sudden outbreak of violence just down the aisle from us as the train took off. One man was yelling at another man with his hands around his neck.

This is part of the shouting I heard: "Vous ne me tutoyez pas. Vous me vouvoyez!"

Translated: "Don't use the "tu" form with me mister, you had better start using the "vous" form, or else.

Another passenger jumped up to separate them. Finally, they returned to their seats. Wow!

Thank you, Sr. Joan Marie, or "Merci beacoup, Ma Soeur", for keeping me out of scrapes by teaching me correct French.


jay reilly said...

ok, then no more "tu" use with strangers;-) jay

dryanna said...

It's probably safer that way. They can always invite you to use the "tu" form with them if they feel the "vous" form is too proper. But it's better to let the other person to decide.