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…