New research suggests that almost one quarter of French residents find tourists from the United States and England to be ignorant, and the language barrier causes most of the issue. So here’s how we ignorant Americans can be less oafish in France.
Jetcost.com, a price comparison website for flights, car rentals, and hotels, conducted the survey in which 2,397 French residents, who were 18 or over and lived near tourist attractions in France, revealed their impressions of visitors to the country. Initially, 47 percent of the respondents said they found the majority of tourists they encounter in their area to be “polite and friendly.”
However, 23 percent admitted that they found tourists in their area to be “ignorant” of the destination and local culture. These respondents were then pressed about what made the visitors “ignorant” and what about the tourists bothered the residents. According to press materials, the “relevant respondents were asked to state what tourist traits they’d encountered that they found to be annoying, rude[,] or disrespectful.” The respondents were given a list of possible responses and were told to select all of the most annoying tourist traits that apply. The findings are below.
The Top 5 Ways English-Speaking Tourists Piss Off the French:
- Speaking louder in their own language - 67 percent
- Speaking slower in their own language - 55 percent
- Not bothering to learn a few basic words/phrases in the local language - 54 percent
- Adding a fake French accent to their own language - 41 percent
- Using excessive hand gestures - 29 percent
Other annoying traits were “dawdling and constantly being in the way” (18 percent) and “being excessively drunk in public” (7 percent).
The nationalities the French respondents found to be most ignorant were American (13 percent), English (10 percent), and German (8 percent). Finally, the respondents were asked whether they try to learn a few words or phrases in other languages when traveling abroad. Sixty-five percent said yes they do. The languages learned the most are English (32 percent), Spanish (10 percent), and German (9 percent).
“It’s not hard to learn a few basic words and phrases in the language of where you’re choosing to holiday; we’re happy to see that the majority of French residents attempt to learn a little themselves before they go abroad,” said a Jetcost.com spokesperson in press materials. “Simple words such as hello and goodbye are quite easy to learn in other countries, and it’s something that’s regularly said to tourists when they’re visibly away from home. It’s just about showing a little respect and being mindful of where you’re going and the people you’re around – a little effort can go a long way.”
I guess if they’re willing to learn our language, then we should be willing to learn theirs. However, since the French often have an issue with otherness, something tells me they’d have complaints about our accents while we spoke French. This is probably a win-lose situation for us ignorant Americans and English no matter what language we’re speaking.