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Thread: "non"

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Vietnam, Singapore, Japan, The Middle East, UK, The Philippines & Papua New Guinea.
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    “Biffer” Boris is apparently off after three weeks as PM to see Macron & Merkel ahead of the G7. It will be a token gesture, as both M&M have already endlessly rehearsed their “Nons” & “Neins”

    Actually, this reaction throughout history has been more prevalent with the French than the Germans. But is it all that it seems?
    Answering “non” gives you the option to say “oui” later; it’s the opposite when you say “oui”, you can no longer say “non.”

    We must also not forget that the French are a people of protest, and a protest always starts with a “non.” Indeed, the French have been protesting since the citizens of Paris stormed the Bastille prison in 1789. Those first protests launched the French Revolution, bringing an end to more than 900 years of monarchical rule. In more modern times, today's “gilets jaunes” protestors took to the streets in November 2018 to march against a fuel tax hike and have continued protesting since then, marching for new causes every Saturday and demonstrating that protesting is something of a national hobby for many.

    The French Revolution was about the right of all citizens to refuse, and “non” has a quality of “revanche des petits contre les grands” that seems to satisfy the inner peasant or proletarian in every French person, of any class.

    Beyond taking to the streets, the French have also crafted a variety of ways to say “no.” “Ça risque d'être compliqué” is likely the least confrontational way of saying that a request is unlikely to be granted. “Ç'est hors de question” is perhaps the most definitive version, cutting off any hopes of arguing one’s case.

    Because often, there is hope. The French do listen, but this usually happens after they say “no” a couple of times. It takes a certain amount of faith, and sometimes a lot of talking, but you can almost always find the “yes” hiding behind a French “no”, if it’s there.

    Another aspect is that the “oui” is often hiding in the context of what is being said. This includes tone, body language, setting and situation. Countries like the US and Australia are low-context cultures where people generally say what they mean and mean what they say. However, France, like Russia and Japan, tends to be a high-context culture, where good communication is regarded as sophisticated, nuanced and layered. Messages are both spoken and read between the lines.

    One of the factors leading to this divide can be found in the numbers: apparently there are 500,000 words in the English language, but only 70,000 in French. This means that Anglophones are more likely to have the exact word to say what they want, whereas Francophones must often string together a series of words to communicate their message. This not only forces the French to be more creative with language, it also allows them to be more ambiguous with what they want to say.

    In addition, this reliance on the word “no” doesn’t mean the French are a fundamentally negative people, either. In part, their approach starts at school. French children learn to argue a thesis, antithesis and synthesis when preparing essays, which teaches them to argue their point, argue against their own argument, then develop a summary. Consequently, later in life French business people intuitively conduct meetings in this fashion, viewing conflict and dissonance as bringing hidden contradictions to light and stimulating fresh thinking. In fact, the French “no” is often an invitation to debate, engage and better understand one another.

    Perhaps the easiest “no” to handle is the flirtatious “no”. Accompanied by a wink and a smile, it is an invitation to dialogue.
    In such an event, would Boris would be out of his depth if this scenario was forthcoming from either Mutti Merkel or Monsieur le President Macron?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Uncanny Valley
    Thank you for the anthropological sketches, M. I was unaware of the Gallic proclivity for saying no; that no doubt is a mere prejudice brought back from the war by American GIs. ;-) And an unfair one, of course. Historically speaking, it's the Germans who usually say no when they mean yes (Are you going to invade the rest of Czechoslovakia?, for example). But Big Mother's already got most of Europe, so if she does wink mischievously, I suspect it will be because she's looking for some of that sweet, blond BoJo love. Am I too refined to say that she hardly qualifies as a piece in our times? Apparently I am not.

  3. #3
    confidentially pleased cacian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    non normally is prompted by ''pourquoi pas''.
    Boris has been around for a while if anything was going to happen it would have happened by now.
    The french just want to moan because they can.
    I dislike politics.
    it may never try
    but when it does it sigh
    it is just that
    it fly

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Uncanny Valley
    Quote Originally Posted by cacian View Post
    Boris has been around for a while if anything was going to happen it would have happened by now.
    The masks are going on again this Halloween. Politics is a dirty business. I don't blame you for not liking it. But history is history. Some of us can't help but peek.

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