Talk to the Snail: Ten Commandments for Understanding the French

Stephen Clarke, Author . Bloomsbury $14.95 (262p) ISBN 978-1-59691-309-7

In Clarke's newest nonfiction on the French and francophiles (after A Year in the Merde ), he offers actually 11 witty commandments for understanding the French. He tackles the stereotypical experiences tourists encounter, explaining why French waiters always ignore you, why everyone's always on strike or why Frenchmen are never wrong about anything. He explains the customs: how to decide when to kiss versus when to handshake, how to romance a French woman or how to be cuttingly rude while seeming polite, and how mispronouncing certain words (the noun "un baiser" means "to kiss"; the verb, "to screw") can get you in trouble (other expressions, like "je t'aime," can't be said often enough). Within Clarke's humorous anecdotes lie grains of seriousness. Why, for example, do the French constantly correct everyone's attempts to speak their language if they also want it to be accepted as a global language? And is it not significant that the French term for bedding someone, "conclure," translates as "to conclude"? In the end, this is an entertaining bon voyage present for anyone heading to France. (Jan.)

Reviewed on: 11/06/2006
Release date: 12/01/2006
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-59691-743-9
Paperback - 262 pages - 978-0-552-77368-3
Hardcover - 262 pages - 978-0-593-05722-3
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4070-3872-8
Hardcover - 224 pages - 978-0-670-06609-4
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