David Sedaris: 153-191- 219-227


Im interested in knowing if the French students agree
with some of Sedaris' observations on Americans in
France. Are some visiting Americans really stupid
enough to speak to French people in english and expect
most of them to not understand?

The author refers to the stereotype of french people in
movies that scares him. Do you think that the stereotype
of americans that movies display really have a large
effect on your idea of americans, or does your
precoceived notion (if you have one) come from somewhere

What I would like to know is how American tourists
compare to other tourists. The American in France is
supposed to be stupid, loud, and rude. Do those
stereotypes exists about visitors from other countries

I don't really think it's so stupid of Americans to
speak English in France and expect the French to
understand (or in any other European country, for that
matter). English is taught in schools almost
universally as a second language, and many of the French
Would understand. I also don't see why it's considered
so bad not to speak French in France -- what if one's
second language was German, or Spanish, or Italian?
Does one have to learn the language of every country one
visits? If you go to 20 countries in your life, does
that mean you have to learn 20 languages? It's not such
a bad idea for everyone to know one common language, and
since so many people know it already, it might as well
be English (Esperanto didn't work very well, did it?).

A general comment for anyone to reply to. In class we
reached the conclusion that even though each reading
piece claimed to be a cultural comparison/examination
that they werent. Either it was too general,
baudrillard, or just gave an American's opinion, Gopnik.
However, while there weren't actual cross-cultural
comparisons, doesnt the fact that we are reading an
account of France by an American or a piece on the
problem with American culture by a Frenchman show us
something about cultural comparison?

What I mean by this is that dont we, in a sense, glean
some idea of the dynamics of cultures and differences
between them (invisible and visible) by simply observing
how an account of one culture is presented by a person
from another?

There comes the realization that identity and
representation emerges from one's perception and other's
as well. So, in reading these accounts, even if they
dont succeed in their "goal", we still learn about both
cultures and their people.


I think part of the problem is the stereotyped image of
American tourists that is also linked to the global
image of America. Much of the world views our role in
global poilitics as a perpetuation of American
dominace. I think that the image of American tourists
as demanding and intolerant of non-english speakers is
also shaped in part by this negative global image of
the US.

On the topic of speaking English, I think you have to be
sensitive to the area in which you are travelling. In a
country like France, which seems to take great pride in
it's language and culture, it's a little rude to assume
that everyone you meet will answer you in English. You
are, after all, a guest in their country, and there is
no real reason for them to change the way they interact
just for your benefit. And just as you are not obliged
to speak to them in French, they are certainly not
obliged to speak to you in English.

In terms of learning 20 foreign languages, I think that
Europeans, and many other people in the world know more
languages (per person) than Americans. This seems to be
due to necessity (for instance, having to do business
in several European countries or in several Indian
states). Since we mostly conduct our business
nationally and therefore only need to know English
(though increasingly spanish as well), we tend to
assume a little arrogantly that everyone will interact
with us in English. This definitely doesn't help our
image abroad! I'll stop rambling now . . . -sayumi


Pour les français les touristes étranger sont des sujets
de moquerie: Les allemands sont gros et portent des
tongs, les japonais ont toujours leur appareil photo,
les anglais sont coincés... Mais on aime bien q'ils
viennent visiter notre pays et nous amener de l'argent.