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Thursday, March 25, 2004

The French are Liars! (Part 1)


Polly Platt, in her book French or Foe, devotes the entirety of chapter 6 to the French tendency to
refuse to admit mistakes, and to lie. For example,

A French dinner guest spilled some red wine on [Polly's] beige sofa. "What a strange color for a sofa!" was her comment

An American spilled some wine on [Polly's] rug and immediately whipped out his checkbook. "I'm dreadfully sorry," he said, "Will $100 cover the cleaning?"
[p. 84]

Platt has lived in France for 25 years, her book is targeted primarily at foreign businesspeople sent to France (also at tourists), and has no hostility towards the French, as far as I can see. But perhaps this story, which names no names, and seems pretty pat, is made up? I find her book pretty credible, but some may be skeptical. A few pages later, she sites a Wall Street Journal article from 7/27/1990 that could be checked: discussing a French company found to have exaggerated its forecasts, a French consultant explained, "In the U.S., lying is a serious offense. In France, you can tell small lies."

 
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