French Lessons: You're So French!

You're so French! The French Influence on American Culture. 

France, ever since the rise of the Bourbons, has held a pinnacle of interest for the rest of the modern world. During the time of kings, queens, dauphins, Louis XIV, and later Marie Antoinette, France came to represent the height of fashion, lifestyle, gardening and culture. The French Revolution of 1789 revolutionized and forever changed the face of Europe. Almost simultaneously, the boom of la gourmand in cuisine flourished with the Versailles chefs who after and during the revolution, had to seek jobs elsewhere.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have dreamed of one day moving to France. I dream of moving to Paris and actually becoming French: I long for the day that I will forget English words, and become fluent in the cultural language of the City of Light. But what of the French and their influence on not just me (the woman who eagerly wants to run off to France), but Americans as a whole? You may be surprised to learn that you are more French than you know.





You search for that one "perfect" item

Going beyond our shared passion for Karl Lagerfeild and striped tee's, French fashion greatly influences Americans. Twice a year Paris holds a fashion week: the styles that walk down Parisian catwalks during the week directly influences the colors that you see in your local Target, department store, and make-up counter. Paris trends used to take an average of one to two years to hit mainstream fashion in here America, but thanks to blogging and social media, the time frame now is much shorter.

Have you ever gotten together with your girlfriends for a shopping mission? "I'm on the hunt for the perfect pair of flats." If you have spent countless hours scouring online shops, department stores, second hand venues, and boutiques to find your HG (holy grail) item, then you have been influenced. The French pride themselves on finding a few select classic pieces that they can integrate seamlessly into their wardrobe - whereas most Americans like having several classic pieces. While the number of pieces may vary, the concept still holds.





You go to the movies 

While there is some debate over who invented the motion picture, there is no debate that it was the Lumière Brothers who invented the cinematographic process and the cinema culture that we know today. It was in Paris that they introduced le cinematographe which functioned as a camera and projector in one. They created over 1,400 short films which were shown in theaters, behind cafés, and basements. Soon snacks were served with the films, and the cinema culture was born. This is one cultural influence that Americans take very seriously!

It should also be noted that the French can also be accredited for another ever present cinematic influence in America that you may or may not be thankful for.



That certain je ne sais quoi 

It has been said that for the average American who has never studied the French language, he/she already knows 15,000 French terms and vocabulary words! If you live in the South, particularly Louisiana, that number almost doubles. Even if you have never cracked open a French textbook, you speak more French than you know! For example:

"This morning I met with Susan at our local cafe for coffee. She had a soy latte (poor thing is lactose intolerant), and I had my usual cafe au lait. Afterwards we browsed a few boutiques. I found the cutest bikini at an "end of summer" sale! It always baffles me as to why people don't wait for sales like these, before spending full price. When I shop, I always need to be on a budget." 

Can you spot the French vocabulary? There are seven words:
café
lactose
café au lait
boutique
bikini
baffle
budget
[Technically "sale" is too, but with a completely different meaning]








Every day we use hundreds of French words without even knowing it! What other French influences have you noticed in your day to day life? Do you have particular French traits that you have adopted?

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This post originally appeared on the blog La Belle in France/Artfully Adored, which I had written as a guest post. I loved this post so much, I wanted to share it with you all!

3 comments

Melmo said...

I Live how you wrote this article. its sk mich fun to read an i leaned somehting :)

Movies on my Mind said...

Francophiles are an American mainstay. Gertrude Stein, Jim Morrison and now Amber Mouthwash continue the tradition that not even President John Adams could stamp out during the Quasi-War. (I know my history Amber.)

I always considered myself more influenced by German styles. Their language shares more in common with English whereas French and Italians seem more akin. The Germans gave us Expressionism; the French gave us ‘Jo Le Taxi’. I know which one I rate more.

The French seem to damn stylish and cultured. That scares British folk.

ravenlocks said...

That's funny because I've been searching for the past week for the perfect black and white striped top. Very French, no?

my personal email is: azur_23 (at) hotmail (dot) com

Talk to you soon!

xo

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