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.
“Pourquoi les Américains…” is trending here in France. Some of their questions make me laugh, and some make me want to cry…
— Monica Linzmeier (@LinzLi) March 15, 2016
And there was the common criticism about Americans “not making any effort to speak even the minimum amount of French when in France.”
Pourquoi les Americains font pas l'effort de parler un minimum français quand ils sont en France alors que les français le font aux USA ?
— C.A Civil War soon † (@MarieL_Winixon) March 15, 2016
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.
Pourquoi les américains mangent des trucs énormes
— Jay (@JaySouksou) March 15, 2016
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.
— Françoise Bellut (@Informons_nous) March 15, 2016
Pourquoi les Américains………font du Monde leur tapis pic.twitter.com/mlR4iocm7i
— @lex $andro™ (@SalviAlessandro) March 15, 2016
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.
@Limportant_fr Je ne comprends pas pourquoi les Américains suivent un candidat comme Donald Trump ? ??
— Laurence Plourde (@laurenceplourd1) March 5, 2016
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.
Pourquoi les Américains interdisent les Kinder Surprise et pas les armes???
— Audrey Guedj (@StronGMetal) March 15, 2016
— Jade Peychieras (@jadepeychieras) February 29, 2016
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”.
— Christina Rebuffet (@Chris_Rebuffet) March 1, 2016
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.
Tu te demandes pourquoi les américains se baladent toujours dans la rue avec un café à la main c'est parce que ça caille
— ElsaC (@elsamars13) February 23, 2016
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).
pourquoi les américains pensent que le français c la langue de l'amour mdr j'pense pas nique ta mère et fils de pute ça exprime la tendresse
— ️️️ (@hestyIesz) February 21, 2016
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.
je comprends pas pourquoi les américains pour les frites, disent :”French fries” ,nous on fait pas de frites, c'est nos voisins les belges
— FossElwan (@Fosward_) February 8, 2016
Other French people lamented how Americans are hard to understand when they speak English, “because they talk so quickly and they mumble.”
Jsuis trop nul en anglais pour l'oral et l'écoute. Pourquoi les Américains parlent si vite et mâche leurs mots ?!
— A lost rabbit. (@Ruirin_) February 15, 2016
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”.
Pourquoi les américains laisse place au succès et ose tout alors qu'en France on Et coincée, trop branleur et trop critique ?
— brinie#fanzouzes (@brinie4) March 15, 2016
Another told all those French people criticising Americans that without them they would not have “no iPhones, no internet, no lap tops”.
Quand je vois certains tweets négatifs sur le HT:”Pourquoi les Américains”,sans eux vous n'aurez pas internet,PC, iPhone donc vos gueules..
— C A C K O W S K I (@Alexis_Bdn) March 15, 2016