Monday, March 15, 2010

Au Revoir

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I love the way French women say « Au Revoir » when they are ending a conversation on the phone. It is sort of a breathy, lilt-in-the-voice way of saying good bye that makes me feel like they enjoyed talking with me and are hoping to speak again soon.

I generally fear phone conversations in French because I have to be VERY attentive and listen to the words carefully and then respond – on occasion I can actually respond intelligently – on other occasions the caller will cask me to repeat the sentence (usually because my response was not a sentence). In person to person conversations, I know that I get a lot of cues from watching the face and body language of the person with whom I am speaking. None of that is available – unless you are using Skype with a webcam – when you are talking on the phone.

The way French women say “Au Revoir” on the phone seems to be pretty much a universal phenomenon. Whether the woman is older than I or younger than I, from Vaison or from Paris, the lilt seems to be the same…

Women say “Au Revoir” VERY differently in person-to-person situations. Maybe it is the situations – I most often see women across the counter of a grocery or a shop. It is more matter of fact – more friendly than “Have a nice day” sounds in the US but just a few degrees from warm. Sort of like the difference between kissing a loved one and kissing your aunt…


  1. Do people really say "Enchanté" when you meet them? (I just looked up what that means this weekend, and how to spell it)

  2. Yes, they do! I met a friend of our neighbor and she said: "Enchanté" before I could. It is a whole lot easier than: "Je suis tres heureux de faire votre connaissance."