jeudi 5 avril 2007
In honor of my brain being fried this week, I am going to keep this short.

One thing I find odd about French bathroom habits is the way that they respond when someone knocks on the door or when knocking on the door (to find out if there is someone inside) in a public restroom.
What they usually say is
"Il y a quelqu'un?"
Is there somebody?
Then the response is
"Il y a quelqu'un."
There is somebody.

I haven't made an in-depth study (that will come after my book of cheese). When I do, I will call it "French Bathroom Habits". That will be a best-seller that one.

I just find it strange. Even if you don't knock and are opening up the door they shriek the same thing, only with more urgency. There is somebody!
Now Americans usually say something along the lines of "Just a minute" or "I will be out in a minute" or "I'm in here." Are the french distancing themselves with the impersonal usage from the act of eliminating? Which would be strange considering how preoccupied they are by it. The question of how are you "ça va?" comes from the "How are things (flowing)?"

3 commentaires:

Dorydee a dit…

While in english speaking Canada last month, I answered as any good french person would do, to somebody trying to open the bathroom door "there is someone" (maybe in a shrieking voice?)and ponder as I did so what an english mother tongue speaker would say at this point... Thanks for answering the question that had occupied my mind everytime I went to the bathroom eversince!
And thanks for the fresh look on our culture :-)

Anonyme a dit…

I thought "ca va" translates to "it's going" or "how's it going?", non?...

Rowan a dit…

Down here in southern Louisiana, perhaps we take a note from the French, because often when someone is knocking on the bathroom door we will reply, "Someone's in here!"

I always find the nuances in language amusing, though, especially as someone who majored in French language growing up in Louisiana, where English is peppered with French phrases and English phrases that really seemed inspired by French. Faire les provisions to become go make groceries, etc. :)

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