19 January 2010

Tu vs. Vous

So, I dipped by the lycee to give them the dates for the English Club and once again heard a heated discussion about some insolent punk(haha Burger King commercial anyone?) using the "tu" form and not"vous". Tu is supposed to be with people who are your peers, cohorts, contemporaries etc. Vous is reserved for those at a higher level either economically or authoritatively (bosses, principals, elderly people, etc.) It rubs me the wrong way.
Heres my problem.
I'm all about R-E-S-P-E-C-T and giving it and meriting it. I couldn't care l Theess whether they address me as "tu", "vous" or "K Bizzle" (that would make me really happy) as long as they were respectful which they are to me, perhaps a little too respectful. I know in English we have the words Mr./Mrs./Ma'am/Sir etc. but it's not the same in my mind. Some might disagree I'm sure.
Tu and Vous both mean "you". It's the republican(small "r" not the political party, the belief system) in me that says we're all humans in a democracy, no one is better or worse than me, I don't have to doff my top hat *I don't wear a top hat* to anyone and the reverse is true as well. Some of the teachers can be rude and a tad condescending to the students,but then want to nuck if one of them bucks for being rude in return... Being from the South and such I've called older people Mr. and Mrs. into my twenties out of respect and decorum, but it's because they're old and in general I respect them. The same level of respect is thus presupposed. The same in most civic relations:schools in this case.In French you're supposed to use "vous" with people you don't know, respect etc. Instead of a more egalitarian "tu" which shows we're all in this together (cue High School Musical)
I don't know why it bothers me. But it's another really telling linguistic and cultural difference...the words a culture uses belies mentality for better or worse. And I think this new decade will continue to show the ways in some French practises are no longer relevant...on verra

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