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What are the French like? (stereotypes) (Real English)
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Real English - lesson 16: What are the French like?


Real English® is a Registered Trademark of The Marzio School. © The Marzio School 1994 - 2014.

WHAT ARE THE FRENCH LIKE? = This is asking for a description of the French people’s personality. LIKE here is a preposition of comparison. Notice the difference in these constructions:
- what is your father like- he’s nice (asking for description of personality)
- what does your father look like- he’s tall (asking for physical description)
Notice also that questions beginning with Wh-words have a falling intonation.

CAB= AmE for taxi

STUCK-UP= someone who is stuck-up has too high an opinion of their own importance and is very proud and unfriendly (informal English)

STAND-OFFISH= unfriendly and formal (informal English)

RESERVED= if you are reserved you keep your feelings and thought to yourself.

CULTURED= cultivated. Someone who has good manners, is well educated and knows a lot about many things (esp. academic things)

COLOR= BrE colour (pronounced /kʌlə/)

GOODS= the things you sell


(THEY’RE) NOT TO MY PARTICULAR TASTE= a very subtle way of saying "I don’t like them at all", a very British way of talking.
BUT THEN, NO EUROPEANS ARE= (following the previous sentence) "I don’t like any European people". The person saying this is British, so he’s European too, but some people in Britain (not so many today, I hope) consider their country to be something different from Europe, even if they are part of the European Union. So they talk about Europe, or more usually, "The Continent", as something different from Britain.

WARM= friendly and loving

INHIBITED= reserved. Someone who doesn’t show their real feelings or thoughts because they worry too much about what negative things other people may think of them.

SNOBBINESS= a SNOB person is someone who admires or is part of the higher social class, and doesn’t like lower classes. Snobiness is the quality of being snobbish (a snob).

RUDE= neither polite nor friendly

FAMILY-ORIENTATED= they think their family is very important and devote a lot of time and attention to them

DOUR= unfriendly and severe (not a very usual word)

CHIC= sophisticated, stylish, fashionable. It is a word with a French origin and still retains its original French pronunciation, so in English it is pronounced "sheek".

HOSPITABLE= friendly, welcoming

LAID BACK= relaxed

THEY TAKE A COUPLE OF HOURS OFF FOR LUNCH= to take an hour off means to stop working for one hour, so this sentence means "they stop working for two hours to have lunch". In some Mediterranean countries (and many other places, like South America) people work in the morning, then stop for about two or three hours (to go home and have lunch with their family, maybe even a little siesta) and then go back to work until 5 or 8 pm. In England or America people start work early in the morning, stop for a short time to have lunch (a sandwich) and continue working till about 3 or 4, then they go back home.

THE DARK AGES= the Middle Ages. The European part of history going from the end of the Roman Empire until the discovery of America. They are sometimes called "dark ages" because they are often considered (wrongly) a period where nothing interesting happened except losing most of the civilization they got from the Romans.

THAT WAS WAY BACK IN THE DARK AGES= That was many many years ago. She’s being ironical about her age. She’s talking about when she was living in Paris as a student.

THEY’RE NOT (quite) AS –SO- FRIENDLY AS...= In the subtitles the word SO is crossed and, instead, they show AS as being the right choice. Obviously the American person who did this considers this construction wrong, but in Britain we can use:

AS...AS to introduce the two parts of a comparison when two things are the same (he’s as tall as me), and we can use:
NOT AS... AS or alternatively NOT SO... AS when the sentence is negative (he’s not as tall as me = he’s not so tall as me)

AMIABLE= friendly

ACROSS THE CHANNEL= on the other side of the British Channel (the extension of water separating Britain from France)

EASY-GOING= a relaxed person who is not easily annoyed, worried or upset by problems or other people’s actions.

FUN-LOVING= people who like having fun

DELIGHFUL= very pleasant and attractive

CHARMING= delightful



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