comfort, support, humor

cozy, nice, comfortable

foundation, support, trust


heart, dependable, love, warmth

home, comfort, to love

home, love, values, morals, culture, education, support, bonds

home, parents, my brother

home, parents, sister, pets

home, parents, sisters, important

kids, flowers, food

laughter, support, stress, happiness

love, bonds, forever

love, children, smiles, birthdays, dinner

love, embraces, support, home

love, trust, fun

Love, Unity, Comfort

Love, Warmth, Guidance


Parents, Siblings, Pets, Relatives

reliable, complicated, connected

religion, tradition, love

togetherness, home, fun

Union, Support, Love

amour, unicité, partage, solidaire

Cadre, Soutien, Amour

Cocon, Protection, Aide

communauté, solidarité, générosité

convivialité, partage, amour

frère, soeur, amour, liens

important, relations particulières

Importante, amour, présente, entre aide.

le cocon, le partage, la convivialité

lien, secours , généalogie

loin, parents, amour

Mariage, enfants, ensemble

Nombreuse, Heureuse, épanouie


parents, aimer, partager

soutien, lien, cœur

Souvenirs, Solidarité, Ensemble

Unicité,lien,solidarité, complicité


Both American and French students said that parents, love, and support are words associated with family. I expected that both cultures would associate family with these two words because love and support are vital in family, and parents or guardians who can take care of you, most likely raise you are strong components that build the foundation of family. Interestingly, American students have emphasized the importance of home in a family. Perhaps this is because many American families emphasize the value of home and family together as a unit. Even in college, many students like to visit their family by going home, and associate their home with their family. My hypothesis is that French students may not see home as an essential part of a family. There is no need to have a set place for home and they adapt with their surroundings. Most interestingly, French students said solidarity as an important component of family. I found this odd at first because solidarity refers to kinship and shared values of a family or neighbors. Although I agree that shared values are essential components of a family, I would most likely describe solidarity for a town, organization, etc and not a family. I personally think that there is more personal and intimate bonds within a family as a result of more love, support, and caring. It was nonetheless interesting to compare the similarities and differences on the word family between French and American students.

It seems natural that both French and American students identify love and support with their families.  However, there were a few unexpected differences that are worth mentioning.  First, none of the French students associated the word "family" with the word "home".  In some American colleges most students are far from home while in others all the students come from the same place.  I would imagine that something similar is evident in the french university system.  However, I don't know what kind of school these responses come from.  It is possible that these French students do not associate "family" with "home" because they don't go home to see their families.  Since Europeans seem to do more international travel than Americans do, it is plausible that many of their family members may not be at home.  I was also interested in the fact that the French students associated sharing, friendliness, and a cocoon with their homes.  While the American students mention that their homes are comfortable and supportive, none of them talk about having a friendly atmosphere at home.  Also, none of the Americans draw a parallel between their homes and a cocoon.  Is this a common analogy in France?

Family has similar meanings for both French and American students. Students from both countries value the importance of family in life. Ideas like love and support are common themes. Although very similar, there are a few differences in character between the American and French students. In particular, American students emphasize the family as a unit, both in terms of people and geography. French students also mentioned parents and relatives, but there is less of an emphasis on the unit as an entity.

I noticed the overlapping prevalence of love, support, happiness, and the mention of the components of a family (brothers, sisters, relatives, parents). I found it interesting that we also included pets when thinking of family. We associated birthdays, food, and flowers with family, whereas the French did not. My speculation is that these activities/objects are closely related to daily life and important activities that we typically partake in / celebrate as a family unit. One of the frequently mentioned words that the French mention, though related to some of our words, is "partage." I think it encompasses an integral part of what family means, it is about being comfortable with being vulnerable and open. It is a quite difficult task to tackle, yet makes the family unit so much stronger. I also liked that an American student wrote "forever." It can be left to the reader's interpretation, but for me this is such a powerful word. People and friends will come and go in life, but family will always be there, no matter what--forever. 

I found it interesting that the french responses generally had a variety of very strong meaningul words such as soutien, parteger and ensemble. The american responses did have similar words, but they also had words such as birthdays, flowers and pets which are really not as important as the notions of strong bonds between family members and being together as one unit. This implies that the french really set family time and family needs above individual needs and activities (which are arguably more important to americans). 


I feel like everyone had the same idea about what a family is, however the French use many words that suggest togetherness and sharing. They also stress how important family is. The hypothesis I had was the the French have a set time in which they spend with their families. However, here that is not the case all the time. So that could be an interesting cultural difference. We do agree on the idea of Love describing a family.

Oui Leonie, je pense que passer du temps avec sa famille est plus important que nos besoins. Une famille est là pour toujours, c'est important. Ta famille est auprès de toi quand ça ne va pas ou autre .. Tu partages pleins de choses (joie, tristesse ..) et c'est ça que je trouve le plus beau :) Une famille c'est pour la vie .



je pense que si les français ne mentionnent pas leur maison, c'est que pour eux, c'est évident; tu te trompes en pensant que les européens voyagent beaucoup, c'est vrai qu'il y a beaucoup d'échanges Erasmus entre les universités européennes, mais en général, les étudiantrs ne sont pas loin de chez eux; on parle aussi beaucoup de ces jeunes français qui quittent la maison de plus en plus tard, vers 30 ans parfois, et qui restent cocooner chez eux; il y a un film très connu sur ce sujet en France: Tanguy , c'est même devenu une expression: "c'est un Tanguy" veut dire que c'est un jeune qui ne quitte pas son foyer familial et qui rest vivre avec ses parents.

Ooops didn't realize that we were supposed to comment here but anyway,

I agree with a lot of the above comments but to give my point of view;

Yes, the concept of family seem sot be important to both the Americans and the Frenc. However, words learning more to the tern "love" seem to be more common to the American famly while words that learn towards the term "unity and closeness" seem to be more common with the French family.

I am under the impression that the French spend a lot of family time togther ie more family celebrations (as a family) as opposed to just handing out gifts without a "proper" family gathering. In a sense, the French version of family sounds more closely-knit than the eAmerican version.

Also on a lighter note, I think the Americans are more likely to consider their pets as part of their family.

                                                                                     Sandra Abago

                                                                                     Sep 30, 2010

Sandra, en temps de crise économique, la famille reste sans doute l'une des dernières valeurs sûres, mais nous avons beaucoup de familles recomposées (comment dirais-tu cela en anglais?), de familles monoparentales, il n'est pas toujours facile d'avoir cette vision très idyllique de la famille unie

Je voudrais savoir si vous réussissez à gardé des liens étroits avec vos familles même lorsque vous êtes très loin de chez vous; votre pays est très grand, et j'imagine que vous êtes souvent séparés; cela a-t-il une influence , est-ce que cela renforce vos liens ?

Martine -


Thank you for your response!  That's interesting.  In France, is it considered OK to stay with your family until you're 30?  Here, that's generally looked down upon, although it does happen occationally.  As many have said, family is there no matter what.  But in general I think that Americans consider you to be unsuccessful if you are still at home at 30 years old.  However, if you are at home because of an accident, sickness or some other kind of personal problem it's more socially acceptable.  That said, I'm sure there are many exceptions.  Are these views generally shared by the French?


Also, I wonder why the association between "home" and "family" is self-evident according to the French students, while for the Americans it is important to articulate?

Diana, je ne veux pas dire qu'il est normal d'être encore à la maison à 30 ans, mais cela arrive à cause du chômage, des études longues, etc.. Je te rassure, ce n'est pas la majorité des français!


pou r les français, la famille n'est pas seuleument la cellule familiale, cela est aussi les cousins, oncles, tantes, etc...


I agree with you that in hard economic times such as these, it is harder to support a large family but what I think is most important to have a close-knit family is spending time together as a family. It can be like the old time classical ways of hanging out such over tea (not sure if that works in France). Unless, if you are referring to the issue in terms of , "the economy is bad so I can not make anymore time for my extended family because I need to work extra hours", then that is a different story. Otherwise, I believe that families can be amazingly close and admirable even in times of little money because I  have witnessed extended families that went to bed hungry but still made the rest of the village jealous with their close family relations!


I think you bring up an interesting question and while it is directed to people from big countries such as the US, I was intrigued enough to respond. So, I am from Uganda and I have not been back home in over two years now but I cannot dare go a fortnight without calling home. While I have not seen my family in such a long time, I still feel close to them because we talk over phone and share pictures (and facebook is just amazing). But it could also be that it has been possible for me to stay in close contact with my extended family as well because my family is actually not that big beyond my nuclear family. I only have one grandmother, two aunts and one uncle with 4 cousins so it is just a matter of calling whenever everyone is together (which is quite often) and talking to everyone. That is how I have managed to stay close with my family.

Est ce que vous Américains vous attachez une grande importance à la famille? Et est-ce vrai que vous attachez aussi une grande importance à la religion?