French reveal what they really don't get about Americans

Ben McPartland
Ben McPartland - [email protected]
French reveal what they really don't get about Americans
Photo: Flickr/Sebr

After the shock victory of Donald Trump in the US presidential election, this article, first published in March, will probably need updating. But it's worth a read.


When the phrase "Why Americans..." (Pourquoi les Américains) trended on Twitter in France in March this year it proved a popular hashtag.

Thousands of tweets revealed exactly what the French find bizarre or don't really understand about Americans, the culture and their government.

And it made for interesting, if painful reading, as one American pointed out.


And there was the common criticism about Americans "not making any effort to speak even the minimum amount of French when in France."


As you might have expected many of the questions the French were asking revolved around the eating habits of the Americans. "Why are their pizzas so big? Why do they eat such big portions? Why are they so obese?" were just some of the questions asked.

One asked why America was always at war "for 222 years out of its 239-year history" , although that's slightly ironic given that France currently has troops in Mali, Central African Republic and are bombing Isis targets in Syria and Iraq and possibly even Libya.

Many of the tweets, in fact a huge amount, asked the question how could so many Americans want a president like Donald Trump. Although one wiseguy did point out that the Americans would be within their rights to ask why so many French people (nearly seven million) vote for the far-right Marine Le Pen.

One of Trump's big loves is of course guns, and he says he never goes anywhere without one. Many French expressed their disbelief over why Americans just love to carry guns. One person pointed out the irony that America bans Kinder Chocolate eggs, but not guns.


While another tweeter picked out the reputation of Americans among the French "to exaggerate all the time" or be hyper positive about fairly ordinary things.

The French often joke that their word "Bof!" can be translated as "hmmm not so good" in English, but when changed to American it would become "Oh my God, Amazing".



Others raised issue with American coffee culture, in particular the way those on the other side of the pond like to walk and drink their coffee at the same time, even when it's cold outside, rather than just take five minutes and sit down.


Another tweeter asked why the Americans really describe French as the language of love (although to be fair, the English do too) when in reality it can be anything but. She then gives a couple of common examples to back up her point: "Nique ta mere" (F**k your mother) and fils de pute (son of a bitch).



One asked a very worthwhile question about why Americans called chips French fries, when they actually come from Belgium? But then as this article shows, there are many "French" things that are not actually French at all.


Other French people lamented how Americans are hard to understand when they speak English, "because they talk so quickly and they mumble."


Some of the tweets were however more complimentary, with one person asking why the Americans dare to take risks and place an emphasis on success whereas France is "blocked" and "too critical".



Another told all those French people criticising Americans that without them they would not have "no iPhones, no internet, no lap tops".





























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