You are cashing a personal check at a bank. The employee reads your name on the check and addresses you with your first name.

Vous touchez un chèque dans une banque. L'employé lit votre nom sur le chèque et vous adresse la parole en utilisant votre prénom.

(Smile) "Thank you. May I have my receipt."

Don't respond until he/she says more formally.

I am not offended but I still address the employee via their family name

I am unphased?

I do not mind.

I don't care since I am a young woman.

I don't really care.

I would be confused and unsure what to do.

I would give the person a funny look but probably not care.

I would not mind that.

I would prefer not to be addressed this way by someone I didn't know, but I wouldn't say anything about it.

I would prefer they call me Ms. [my last name], it's more professional; though it doesn’t bother me to have them call me my first name, especially if I am a regular customer and they have served me often. I think calling me by name, first or last, forms the idea in the teller or customer service representative's mind that I am a person whom they are working on behave of rather than just a bank account number.

I would probably be a little startled but I wouldn't correct him.

I would think nothing of it, it's typical.

I would think that's kind of rude but let it slide.

I would think that's not proper, but most likely I wouldn't pay much attention.

I would think the employee was trained very well.

I wouldn't think anything of it-I would just proceed with the transaction.

I'd be fine with it, although they really should address me as Ms. Last name

I'm okay with that.

In my home country it would be considered rude. In the US it is quite common and I am used to it.

nothing, but I would be a little surprised.

Nothing. That's normal here.

Smile. This does not bother me.

"Non Bertrand, tu te trompes, ça c'est mon prénom, mon nom, c'est xxxx"

ça me dérange pas...

Je le remercie parce que je préfère les situations décontractées.

je le tutoie

Je ne fais rien, cela ne me choque pas.

Je ne serais pas contente mais je ne vais rien faire.

je ne vois pas le problème et continue comme si rien ne s'est passé

je pense qu´il est un peu impoli mais je fairai un sourire et je le trouverai sympa

je souris.

je suis génée, et vexée mais bon..

je suis gêné, mais bon tant pis je tomberai sur un autre guichetier la prochaine fois

je suis surprise, le montre discrètement et lui demande s'il me connait

je suis troublé, je m'arrange pour ne plus aller à son guichet


D`apres les reponses de chaqun, il semble que les francais se sentent reellement agresses par cette situation alors que pour un americainm, cela preterait a rire. On pourrait dire que les americains sont plus ouverts que les francais et que ce que les francais ressentent comme une reelle intrusion ne fait apres tout que les troubler. Pourtant, francais et americains s`accordent sur le fait que ce n`est pas tres professionnel d`appeler un client par son prenom. Il faut donc bien distinguer la situation ou un inconnu s`adresse a vous de maniere familiere de celle ou un commercial le fait. Le respect de la vie privee (on rejoint ici la discussion sur le vouvoiement et le tutoiement) semble donc avoir une signification differente chez les francais et les americains.

The differences here really are about what is considered to be polite when talking to others. I know in America, a lot of times, you will be at a bank and they will address you by your first name. It's something that I am used to. It looks like by the responses that Americans are more used to this than in the French answers. It seems like more offense is taken in that it is not polite to address someone by their first name. American responses are mostly that they don't mind it, or they are surprised but say nothing. I thought the answer that someone wrote that "I would think the employee was trained very well" was definitely interesting. However, the French responses were more like addressing using "tu" or surprise. Have you ever run into this situation in France or do you normally have most banks or other places that just call you by your last name?

I think this is an interesting topic, especially as Jimmy brought up the issue in the French language of addressing someone as "tu" or "vous." I believe that the very fact that these two identities are separated in the French language and not in English is very telling. It indicates that the French culture places more value on formalities when meeting people, and perhaps differentiating acquaintances from old friends. I think this is related to why Americans always seem to be so out in the open about everything, wearing their hearts on their sleeves, and often saying whatever comes to mind. In general, I think it indicates that the French are more concerned with being polite whereas Americans value telling it like it is.

Je suis tout à fait d'accord avec Elizabeth : je pense que les Americains font plus facilement et plus rapidement usage d'un langage familier que les francais qui peuvent mettre beaucoup de temps avant d'en arriver là. Nous mettons effectivement beaucoup d'importance dans la première rencontre et les premières présentations et sommes au départ très polis et réservés. Ca met parfois une distance difficile à réduire par la suite et c'est dommage. Je pense qu'aux Etats-Unis vous êtes plus directs et plus accessibles, c'est mieux surtout pout rencontrer des gens!

Many American businesses encourage customer service employees to reduce the formality between them and the customers. In Upstate New York (my home)it's not unusual for bank tellers to greet you, by first name if possible, as you enter the bank. As you make a transaction tellers might even strike up a conversation. I was actually surprised that when I came to Boston not much changed. I'm still greeted with a large smile. Larger businesses tend to be a bit more professional. It's interesting to compare French and American views. What the French consider polite and proper, some Americans might find cold or disconnected.

As Elizabeth noted, the responses show that the French place more stress on formalities when dealing with people. Personally, I would probably consider it unnecessary if a teller addressed me formally because I am a young person. I do think that girls have stronger opinions about being addressed formally than guys in the US. Do you think this difference in opinion also exists in France?

I think that age has a lot to do with the degree of formality that is necessary in addressing others. For example, I feel that someone who is younger should always address their elders formally because it is a sign of respect. In response to Helene, I think that you are right that direct communication and addressing someone less formally signifies a closer friendship and makes you closer with other people. You said that it usually takes lots of time for the French to become comfortable with each other. Why is this the case? How long are you usually friends with someone before you refer to each other as tu? Do you refer to people your age as "tu"or "vous" when you first meet them?

I thought that it was interesting that the French said that they would not be confrontational when the clerk refers to them in the first person but would choose another clerk the next time they return to the bank. This response was not give on the American side. Also, I agree with everyone that the French are more confrontational.

Im curious about the use of "tu" and "vous". In Puerto Rico, it is a lot more accepted to use the spanish equivalent of "tu" (which is tu aswell). In fact many people will ask you to refer to them as "tu" so they don't feel as old. While if you go to somewhere in South America, like Colombia for example, and you will see that the choice of words is a lot more formal. It is not uncommon for people to refer to their own sisters and brothers in the form of the spanish equivalent to "vous" ("usted"). Are these trends as apparent in France as they are in Central/South America?

I think in the US, where there is no distinction between the formal and informal "you," social situations are automatically simplified, so most people don't even think about formality. I, for example, don't even think about whether someone has just called me by my first name or not. As a side note, Pushkin has a wonderful poem about the Russian equivalents of "tu" and "vous."

To the French students: do individuals easily take offense to mispoken formality? Say, myself, an American with a flagrant accent were to make this mistake in speaking to a stranger; is it likely the person would get very angry with me, or would it be excusable given my circumstances?

For Giorgio: The trends in Central and South America vary from country to country, and even within the same country they change. In most of Venezuela, for example, most people use "tu", except for the westernmost part in which some use "usted" like the Colombians do, or "vos". In Central America they mostly use "vos" and they do so in the southernmost countries as well (Argentina, Uruguay). However in the northern coastal region of Colombia (Barranquilla) they use "tu" as well in many cases. I think in the Caribbean (like in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic) they use mostly "tu".

The fact that in the US there is only one word for "you" makes it harder to differentiate when one should be formal or not. I believe that younger people should be more formal with their elders - it is a sign of respect. However, how formal a person is seems to depend a lot on the environment that he grew up in. If the person is surrounded by adults who always say it is ok to be informal, then he won't know any better when dealing with strangers. It seems that in France people are much more of the same opinion on formality, so there is less diversity in the upbrining of children with regards to it. Is this the case? What are your thoughts on the matter? Also, I am curious just like Gleb to know how understanding french individuals are when it comes to mistakes in formality