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The use of NON in French.....


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Wools, your link had me smiling and nodding in agreement because, only a couple of weeks ago, I had a real-life demonstration of this use of non[:)]

I was in the local x ray place trying to book a RV.  Admittedly, my request was not straightforward as I needed it within a couple of working days and I wanted a specified radiologist.

As in the article, the réceptioniste said Non, pas possible, almost before I could finish my question.

After a pause, I asked, can you then please suggest an X ray place near here where I could go?  Just as in the article, this was clearly not a question that could be answered with a yes or no!  She ostentatiously and noisily riffled through some pages on the appointment book and then said, can you come on Monday morning?

Given that it was already Thursday, I considered that to be quite a satisfactory outcome[:D] 
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Good question Wooly.
Following Mint's excellent example, my experience is that often when you ask a french person a question their first reaction is "...sais pas".
It might be because their education is linked to a right answer, or a wrong answer. They're afraid to get it wrong.

A correct answer is a good/bon reponse.  A wrong answer is a bad/mal reponse. The question becomes one of morality.
I don't think there are french words for correct or incorrect.

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Someone told me to say " Priez-vous m'aider......" before a question-especially to those behind a desk. It implies you're desperate and throwing yourself on their mercy. Seems to work for me anyway 😁
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“Pourriez-vous m’aider...”. [Weegie got there first!]

Excellent phrase, Mac. Definitely should get them on side.

And +1 to Judith and others above.

The trick is to make the fonctionnaire feel clever, and NEVER to wrong-foot them.
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Thanks Loiseau.  I also find that, saying I don't know if there is a solution, helps, if things get sticky .. and look puzzled.  They always know I am not French, though they say I speak good French, when I apologise for my poor French (it''s not perfect though by no means idiomatic or quite correct, I mix up vous and tu, all the time and use them interchangeably as well!, but they get the gist), but that is also a good way to get them on your side ... they can take the upper hand ... though the lady in Beziers in the old days when I tried to change my driving licence (oh, if only!), did not play ball .. but that's Beziers for you, isn't it NormanH???

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I have a little bit of a problem with the construction of "priez-vous m'aider".  It is rather standing it on its head.   If you want to use prier I would suggest, "Je vous prie m'aider" ie "I beg you to help me".

The main consideration, no matter whom you are dealing with, fonctionnaire, shop assistant etc, it is always wise to start with "Bonjour".  It isn't necessarily considered rude in UK to address a question without preamble and relying on tone and inflection but not so in France.

All above IMHO

BTW this isn't really my second post.  I was a contributor previously but a change of email address and forgotten password meant I ended up rejoining.

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That's a very good point about Bonjour, Weegie. And it can be followed up by ca va? Or comment allez-vous? And a handshake in many situations. Occasionally a kiss, before asking what you came about.

It took me some time to learn that - we british have the habit of rushing into the main issue with no formalities.

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[quote user="Weegie"]
The main consideration, no matter whom you are dealing with, fonctionnaire, shop assistant etc, it is always wise to start with "Bonjour".  It isn't necessarily considered rude in UK to address a question without preamble and relying on tone and inflection but not so in France.

[/quote]

Good point, Weegie, absolutely the first word in every transaction needs to be "bonjour".  It acts like "please" and we wouldn't dream of asking anything of anybody without saying "please", would we?[:)]

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Slightly annoying is a habit I've noticed a couple of times recently at the checkout, where the person on the till may make eye contact with you as you're waiting for the previous person to pay. No point, at that stage, in saying a cheery "Bonjour" , as often the checkout person will then blank you entirely until the person in front has gone. They will then look at you again and say their "Bonjour" as though the previous attempt has been voided.

I once made the mistake of not responding and got a very shirty repetition of the caissière's "Bonjour", even though she'd ignored me when I said it. So I said an equally pointed "Rebonjour"and we declared it a score draw.
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L'oiseau wrote - EDIT.

"I don’t think a proffered kiss would go down too well with a tetchy fonctionnaire, though! ;-)"
Very true - you have to assess the social situation and pick your victims!

The most difficult interview I had with a fonctionnaire was after we had sold our tractor, sans carte gris (long story). The buyer later decided he needed a carte gris or wanted his money back.

We didn't have the complete legal paperwork so I went to the prefecture in great trepidation - bonjour, ca va? etc.

The lady checked everything and looked very doubtful, but she saw that I was almost shaking with anxiety. Eventually she said d'accord, je l'accepte. Or something like that. We got the carte gris.

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Chap at the till on Saturday actualy stopped working, looked at me and asked if he had said "Bonjour" before he began to deal with the shopping. He looked relieved when I said he did.

On a side note, on a recent trip to Edinburgh, Scotland last month we went to a supermaket. At the till I proffered my opened rucksack to the lady. She asked me why I was doing that. Somewhat taken aback I asked if she wanted to check it was empty (something we have to do with every bag, rucksack etc at shops in France I explained). She expressed complete surprise and no interest at all in our open bags! Is it just France or my dishonest face?
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I find that happens when they get new or inexperienced staff on the till, or when the security man is close by.  Since I know the directors well, fellow Rotarians, who bise when seen, most of the staff not only know me, but my bags, which are also pretty distinctive.  I do find, however, that staff in the UK (mainly Waitrose and Tesco, 'cos that's what they have where I go) are far more friendly and helpful than any supermarket cashier here.

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