You are walking down the street in a big city. A stranger approaches you with a big smile.

Vous êtes dans une grande ville. Vous marchez dans la rue et une personne inconnue vous aborde avec un grand sourire.

Do not look at him and walk away quickly.

He is probably trying to sell me something.

Hello do I know you?

I smile to him/her.

I would ask if I can help somehow.

I would smile back politely.

I would smile back, maybe wave hello.

I would smile back.

look away, he's probably selling something or wants you to sign a petition.

Return the smile.

Smile back and ask what he wants.

smile back and say "hi"

Smile back, then keep walking.

Smile back. Wave. Start a conversation. Sometimes even, they might grace you with a verbal salutation.

What do you want from me?

ça dépend de ce qu'il veut, je m'arrête quand même

cela m'inquiète

Je baisse la tête et continue de marcher.

je l'écoute

je lui réponds, mais je ne m'arrête pas, on ne sait jamais

Je lui rends son sourire et lui demande ce qu'il me veut.

Je lui souris en retour et attends que cette personne me parle.

Je lui souris et je m'arrête pour lui répondre.

je pense qu'elle se trompe de personne et me prend pour une autre

Je souris involontairement en voyant quelqu'un qui sourit en face de moi

Je suis très contente et je vais dire ''Bonjour''

La personne est sociable ou elle essaie de draguer.

si c'est un beau garçon, je m'arrête et lui parle


Dans la plupart des cas nous avons tous répondu que nous sourions a la personne, mise a part une personne qui a dit qu'elle continurai de marcher le plus vite possible, craignez vous certaine chose dans les rues ?

Vous mentionnez 9 fois le mot "smile" alors que nous, seulement 4 fois: cela veut-il dire que vous êtes plus ouverts, moins peureux?

On dit souvent que les américains sont très faciles à aborder, alors que les français sont plus distants

Les français parlent plusieurs fois de drague, pas les américains! Est-ce que cela ne vous vient pas à l'idée quand quelqu'un vous sourie dans la rue? Ce peut être une première approche, non?

In my opinion, if I was walking with a bunch of people around and someone approached me with a smile, I would not be fearful. Maybe he or she wants to talk or sell me something, in either case, I would feel safe just because I don't think someone would hurt me out in the open with hundreds of other people around.

I like the answer that someone would stop and talk to the person if it was an attractive man!


Even though you do not mention smiling as often as we do, I was actually under the impression that more of your answers were positive since people mentioned being willing to stop and talk. In most of our answers, we were very definite: either we would smile, or we would walk away.

It seems to me that you are much more open to dealing with people you don't know in a friendly or open manner.

I think the answers of french students are varying with situation, (and assuming a lot of different situation) meaning, "smile" is the behavior happening in a specific occasion. Are you guys not smiling that much in your usual life?! :-)

To Clément, I think americans seem to be really open and easily accessible between strangers but it seems hard to be a really close and deep friend.

I suppose the only time I would be fearful of a stranger approaching me in the street was if it was kind of an evil smile and he was carrying a weapon or we are in a dark back alley or something like that. I think that it is common courtesy to smile back, although it can be awkward if you figure out they are smiling to the person right behind you.

The American responses seem to be taking the act of mutual smile as something normal and self-sustained. In contrast, to the French, the smile means that there must necessarily be something behind it: people don't smile just for the sake of smiling, they seem to assume. That's why they would stop and find out what's the stranger's business.

To me, this self-sustained American smile is pleasant and amiable. However, at the same time, it might also carry the function of a beautiful cover for cold indifferent innings: like saying "Hello, how are you?" without expecting an answer. It's a very personal thing, but that indifferent "How are you?" always disturbs me.

As for the French version, would you say that in France to strike a conversation with a stranger often means you are promiscuous or creepy? Because I believe it's much more acceptable and neutral in the US. If true, would it then mean that the French, is spite of being more concerned about the common good and social needs in the general, keep a larger distance between each other in everyday life?

(I'm probably going too far with those...)

To me, the main difference between the American and French responses was that the American seemed to analyze the situation much less.  Like Paelle said, we sould either smile or walk away.  The French responses were generally more conditional.

Perhaps Americans are more spontaneous?

Sophie Weber

Oct 20, 2011

I agree with Ignat and Sophie. I think returning a smile is almost like a reflex. It's more of a social obligation than anything.

What are your obligatory customs when meeting a stranger or friend?

Ignat, j'aime bien ta réponse, on cherche le pourquoi des choses et du coup, cela veut peut-etre dire qu'on ne rit pas forcément beaucoup dans la rue; il n'y a qu'a regarder les gen dans le metro!


lorsque nous rencontrons quelqu'un pour le 1e fois, nous lui tendons la main pour dire bonjour; ensuite, quand on connais très bien la personne, on lui fait la bise.

Est-ce que vous vous serrez la main à chaque fois que vous vous rencontrez? Et qui fait la bise?

Je rejoins la question de Michèle, j'ai entendu dire que les Américains se disent bonjour à chaque fois qu'ils se voient, même si c'est plusieurs fois dans la même journée. Est-ce que vous pouvez le confirmer ou infirmer?