Thursday, November 08, 2018

‘Je suis excité’ ... Non!

A visiting Pole was unusual in one way.  The same way that a visiting Czech was a while ago.  And a visiting Ukrainian too.

What was unusual about them?

They were quite extroverted.  And did not hide their excitement.  They even laughed loudly.

A contrast to the melancholic poker-face that I have come to expect from the population there.

I know, I know.  I am a guy whose smile does not get across to people.  But, this post is not about me, dammit! ;)

The Pole talked about his friend who immigrated to Australia, became a citizen there, and decided to return to Poland.  Why?  Because Australians were always too happy for him!

Americans are also way too upbeat all the time, he said.

I agreed with him.  But, chose to keep my critiques within.

And then later shared my dissenting views with M. "I would think that only white Americans will come across as upbeat all the time.  Similarly in Australia.  You think the indigenous people in Australia or Native Americans here will be that way?"

Once you take away from the discussion the white American and Australian population, I would think that the Americanisms of "Awesome!" and "I am so excited" rarely show up in other cultures, including the one in which I was raised.  Heck, even in France and in the French language.
“I think it's safe to say I express excitement often and outwardly,” said bilingual Australian Dr Gemma King, who teaches French language and cinema at the Australian National University in Canberra, noting that when she speaks French, it is another story entirely. “My students and I often joke that our cooler, calmer, more reticent sides come out when we're speaking French,” she said.
When speaking and thinking in French, even the Aussie excitement dies down ;)
“[The French] don't appreciate in conversation a kind of positive, sunny exuberance that's really typical of Americans and that we really value,” Barlow explained. “Verbally, ‘I'm so excited’ is sort of a smile in words. French people prefer to come across as kind of negative, by reflex.
My French husband agrees.
“If you’re too happy in French, we’re kind of wondering what’s wrong with you,” he said. “But in English, that’s not true.”
You see, I am the normal one when I come across as an unsmiling person!

So, is there a philosophy of life that all these distill to?
“You Americans,” he said, “live in the faire [to do]. The avoir [to have]. In France, we live in the être [to be].”

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