⪧ We left our life in New York City to make a new one in Provence ⪦

November 13, 2012

Être gentil.

FRANÇOIS HOLLANDE, UN HOMME POLITIQUE TRÈS GENTIL ("François Hollande, a very nice politician") - the title of an article in French publication Grazia today. Oh how I loved this article. It describes perfectly a distinctly French phenomenon: how calling some "nice" is actually an insult. (Like the time when we visited Xavier's grandmother in Lyon for the first time and she whispered to him about me as we were leaving, "She may be a bit too nice..." with a warning tone. Or the many times I have listened to a French person employ the adjective "nice" with a disparaging tone). So poor Hollande. He has been typified as being "very nice": the subtitle of this article is "Nice. That is how this politician is perceived. Not sure that this pleases him."

Particularly amusing was the section of the article called: "Is it nice to call someone nice?" They go on - 'In politics [and, I would argue, in general in France] nice means inoffensive - innocuous. Without respect.' A president should be someone who commands respect and should be known for his authority and not his 'niceness.' Their recommendation for François Hollande's goals for 2013: Be less nice.

The article (those fickle French) congratulates Nicolas Sarkozy for never being susceptible to being labeled 'nice.'

4 comments:

ering said...

hilarious. at least he french actually reflect on politics and seem to care. here in italy things are rapidly going down the tubes and everyone is too busy talking about food, boobs and weather to care enough to do anything.

Xtreme English said...

"nice" is just a medium accolade here (in the US) it seems.

Emilie said...

Xtreme English - true! But at least it remains something of an accolade (not full-on disparaging)...

Xtreme English said...

doesn't the tone in which this is said have a lot to do with it? Tom Lehrer's Christmas song has this verse:
"Relations sparing no expense'll
send some useless old utensil
or a matching pen & pencil....
Just the thing I need.
How nice." The last line is dripping with sarcasm.

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