IntroductionCulture is a term that refers to the joint suppositions, values and beliefs that result in distinctive characteristic behaviours among a group of people (Storti, 1999). French culture is popular for its unique forms of art, philosophy and literature (Steel, 2002). This paper gives a review of the French culture based on a qualitative review of books and other research materials published in different media. The paper will describe the core values of the French culture and later present a comparison of the French and Arabic cultures. Core valuesLanguage and non-verbal patternsThe French are very proud of their language.
As such, they uphold French to a near fanatical regard usually refusing to take up other languages. They are proud of their culture and therefore see no need of learning other “foreign” languages (Williams, 2009). They are so absorbed in their culture, such that they consider France as the centre of power (Hall & Hall, 1997). Anyone speaking French with a different accent will be treated with the usual French disdain. This is because no foreigner learns French well enough to satisfy the French.
The French are indeed very proud people. They cite their accomplishments in the past and contributions they have made to the world culture Non-verbal communication is usually distinct from that of the western worlds and the Arabic culture as well. For example, eye contact between people means that they consider themselves equal. As such, strangers rarely maintain eye contact, because doing so is construed as seeking a personal relationship with the stranger (Steel, 2002). Smiling to strangers is also not a welcome gesture in France. People who do so are considered simple-minded, or opportunistic.
Strangers who smile to the French are treated defensively (Steel, 2002). According to Hall and Hall (1997), French friends maintain eye contact as a means of reading each other’s responses. According to Steel (2002), all humans carry themselves in a bubble, which they consider their own personal space. Only people who are close to the person are allowed to the personal space. Intrusions to the personal space by uninvited people are met with tense or defensive reactions. The French, especially friends, and acquaintances sit close together.
The total involvement of the French in personal interactions, the intent way through they look at each other, their gestures and the synchronization of their moves gives an outside observer the notion that the French get totally engrossed with each other to the point of excluding everything else in their surroundings (Hall & Hall, 1997). . Shaking hands is also another predominant non-verbal communication feature in the French culture, which is considered a necessity in acknowledging each other (The Protocol School of Washington, 2008). The French handshake is usually a brief holding of hands.
The French shake hands during introductory meetings, when they enter a room, and when leaving a room. Refusing to do so is considered an impolite gesture. The French can easily judge a person’s character by the nature of his/her handshake. The accuracy of such judgments is however debatable. The double kiss, usually on both cheeks is also a unique French non-verbal mode of communication. Just like the handshake, the double kiss is used by people when meet as well as when they are parting ways.
Unlike the handshake however, close family members or acquaintances use the double kiss. It is a common sight in public places (Lane et al, 2005).