French to teach body language
• Sun World
• Paris Tourist Board website
By PETE BELL
January 03, 2007
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BRITISH travellers who have trouble speaking French are being invited by Paris tourist chiefs to learn Gallic gestures instead.
Ways of perfecting the Gallic shrug and understanding French-style handsignals are outlined on a new Paris Tourist Board website.
A poll by the board found that two thirds of those visiting the French capital found communication with Parisians difficult.
Many UK visitors rely on hand gestures and Franglais - a mixture of English and French - while 34 per cent make no attempt to speak French at all.
The survey also found that being made more welcome by the locals was high up the wish-list for Britons visiting Paris.
Paris tourism spokeswoman Henriette Zoughebi said: "Our research has indicated the frustrations that the French have long suspected visitors to Paris may encounter.
"That is to say that despite the many cultural parallels between the two great cosmopolitan cities of Paris and London, the language difficulties sometimes prove off-putting to our UK guests, with visitors frequently misunderstanding the Parisian attitude.
"With this in mind we have launched a light-hearted campaign that we hope will help Brits appreciate that beneath the cool Parisian exterior lies the ability for us to make fun of the stereotypes surrounding our unusual demeanour."
One French gesture that most of the Britons polled failed to understand was that of a man holding his hand above his head. Three in five Britons though this indicated that it was likely to rain, but in fact it signalled that the man was fed up.
Graham Hales, executive director of branding consultancy company Interbrand, whose recent research looked into the core elements of communication, said: "We have discovered that 55 per cent of communication is non-verbal, with tone accounting for another third, so it is no surprise that Brits get put off visiting France since the tone of voice of the French is very different to that of the English."