T Nation

USA-France Love-Hate Relationship


#1

The love-hate relationship between Americans and the French never ceases to amaze me.

Both cultures take from the other, and both are fascinated by the other`s contributions. The French use a lot of English in their everyday talk, and Americans use some French words to a very lesser degree (lingerie, saute, etc.)

Another recurrent theme in movies is the Americans-who-go-to-Paris. Another one is the French-are-pussies in military topics. Etc.

I don`t get it.

France is but one part of Europe. Of all the people out there, why pick them, either on the love or hate side?

Is their the echo of some historical event, like World War II? Is this just a twist on the classic Anglo-vs-French debate? Are the French to Americans what Newfies are to Canadians? Is it just one-culture-serves-as-an-example-of-what-NOT-to-emulate identity thing?

I`m no history buff, but there has to be an explanation to this.


#2

France played a big role in the US independance struggle. And they donated the Statue of Liberty.

And of course the Yanks helped liberate France in WWII (though they claimed they did it all by themselves)

These are just a few examples of the historical ties between the two nations.


#3

I am not a linguist.

A lot of english words were borrowed from the french language.

I read somewhere that it amounts to something like 50 %.

Here are some words taken from your message in english with their counterpart in french :
- cease cesser (same meaning)
- culture culture (same meaning)
- other autre (same meaning)
- fascinated fasciner (same meaning)
- contributions contributions(same meaning)
- use user (nearly the same meaning)
- degree degre(same meaning)

I did not use french accents, they don't seem to work...


#4

Americans love France because:

  • They helped us win independence from Britain.
  • Donated the Statue of Liberty.
  • Have a beautiful language, wonderful food, wonderful art, great wine, beautiful cities/country, romantic way about the culture, their accent sounds HOT on women, etc.

Americans hate France because:

  • Although not single-handedly, we did indeed send hundreds of thousands of our guys over there to fight and die in brutal combat in what was, indeed, a war that we could have chosen to opt out of, although surely not without consequences, but we could've chosen not to cross the ocean and fight it. Thousands of our men and boys are buried on French soil. We gave them their country back, and although the Brits, Canadians and others certainly played a crucial part, without the U.S. entering the war there would have been ZERO chance that the Allies would have won. ZERO. And then, not only does France oppose us at almost every turn (for decades) in the U.N., when we wanted to bomb Qaddafi after the Pan Am Flight 103 incident (they wouldn't let us fly over their friggin' airspace to get there, etc.), but in the run-up to the Iraq War, they take it a step further. It's one thing to have opposed the war in and of itself. Fine. I thought and still think it was a dumb move, too. But Chirac went a step further. He said -- about one of his ALLIES, the one that was key in LIBERATING HIS ASS a few mere decades earlier -- that he was opposing us in large part on principle, because he thought there needed to be another power or group of powers to COUNTERACT U.S. power in the world, in general.

Oppose the war all you want on its own basis, Chirac, and feel free to say so and vote against it in the U.N. But to turn to your biggest, most long-standing global allie and say that you're opposing us because we need to be counteracted on the whole in the world (i.e. you don't like/trust/are envious of us)?? That's when many Americans said, "Go fuck yourselves" to France.


#5

Yeah, that pretty much covers it!


#6

They're fucking French. What's to like about the cowardly SOB's in the first place?

I have never liked the French. And I probably never will. I'm sure that just cuts them to the quick to know that some idiot in the middle of no where doesn't like them.

I don't think we should ever spill another drop of American blood to liberate, defend, or in any other way bail their sorry asses out of a jam again.


#7

i dont know if it is possible to talk of love/hate relationship when there are this kind of "cross language"

it is a common event in modern age.
English words are common in many non-English country.. and the same is for "typical products" name of other language...

pizza is pizza everywhere, champagne is chmapagne everywhere. lingerie is the same quite everywhere and so on...

IMHO 'cause French has a lot of common point with USA.

from the structure of the government to the self-view of the nation role in the world issue...

yes and it lays on the historycal and political plane (IMO)

as you said from WWII and before, french help "englich rebels" to become USA, and before, French with English was the leader of the world before the coming of USA (in the early 1900)


#8

RJ - Don't be shy, how do you really feel?


#9

I was under the impression rather than taking words from English to French and vice versa the common names and sounding words come from Latin.

I don't actually believe the USA's entry into WW2 was the deciding factor of us winning the war. You got to remember that Britain entered the war on the same premise as America, we declared war on Germany.

They (Hitler) wanted to leave us the hell alone and in turn let them get on with their stuff in Europe. Why ? because he knew the British Army was double hard. Check the history books it was the Russians that were the key players, the US and UK should think of their action as the decisive turn.

Even today everyone knows the British Army is probably the best Army in the world, I speak from personal experience.
I mean hell the US army even bases its special forces on our very own SAS, who are without a shadow of a doubt the worlds elite fighting force.


#10

I'm from Alabama, so I'm quite familiar with all kinds of prejudice.
That being said, I lived in France for 2 years. Since it was during the Iraq mess, there was a LOT of tension between the French and Americans. I was a little concerned. But I soon found out that most people just don't care. Rather, they DO care about politics, but that does not influence how they take you as a person. Most people were very, very nice to me. Heated political discussion arose occasionaly, but that was it.

However, sometimes I would run across the occasional bigot who hated America, and therefore, Americans. I would get yelled at, etc. My French friends would just say, "Forget that guy. He's an ass."

So there are ignorant bigots everywhere, in every country. And they are the ones who give reputations to the majority. I mean, honestly, most people on this board (I would think), don't hate the French. Most could probably care less. But there are some who would, if they met a Frenchman, hate him immediately. And give vague half-truths he'd learned in from history books or tv shows.

Anyway, here's my point: When discussing differences and feelings between two countries, don't make yourself look ignorant by making blanket statements about the people.

This isn't meant for anybody in particular. It's just something I feel strongly about and felt like typing.


#11

The US hates France because of Charles DeGaulle.

The US involvement was certainly key to winning WW2. The US supplied much (most?) of the material used to fight the Nazis.

The US Army inflicted more casualties per capita on the Germans than any other Army did due to the quantity of materials, good leadership and excellent citizen-soldiers.

The US Army was the best Army in the European theatre followed by the German Army and then the British and Canadians. All of these Armies were good.

The SAS were of course excellent, but very small.

The Soviets squandered the lives of their soldiers with bad leadership. They got the job done but did not care about the how many of their own were killed.

The Italian and the French Armies, well I need not insult them further.

The French Resistance was brave and effective.

The Poles, Belgians etc. were overwhelmed by the Nazis but many escaped to fight bravely during the liberation of Europe.


#12

French is a language with latin origins and the English were invaded 1066 by the french.

Which is why english has a shitload of french words.

Or to be more precise by the Normands which were vikings as far as I recall that had settled in northern France.

Yes, and we nearly killed the British army during the Blitzkrieg, all the BEF could save was the soldiers not the equipment and even that was due to german mistakes.

Without US supplies the UK would have been lost.

Again without dozens of thousands of trucks and the gas to run them the glorious Red Army would have had to walk to Berlin.

Who knows?

To think that WW II could have been won by the allies without the US industrial strenght is quite an interesting point of view I do not happen to share...


#13

Since this is turning into a WWII discussion anyway.

Let's not forget the Sovjets had to fight off most of the German warmachine.

When Western armies did face some stiff resistance, like in the Ardennes and around Arnhem, it turned ugly very quickly.


#14

These posts always turn into UK bashing posts, I'm going off to sulk.


#15

I may not agree with everything that the French Government does (nor do I, as a proud American, always agree with the actions of the American governtment).

When you are raised American, you are raised on different ideals than if you were raised French. The two societies think differently. While I may disagree with some prevailing ideas in France, I have no hostility for the people of France. In fact, I really doubt that most Americans have any hostility for the citizens of France. So, I think the 'hate' in the love-hate relationship is really more of an ideological clash, than real animosity.


#16

Victor,

I'm not interested in getting into childish bullshit about whose army is "harder." The fact is, and most British historians will agree with this, that even WITH the American entry into the war, it was STILL as one put it, "a very close shave." No one is saying that we took as many casualties as the Russians. I was pointing out the bottom line, which is that, WITHOUT the U.S. entry into the war, the Allies likely would've lost.

That, however, is almost beside the point. When a nation sends hundreds of thousands of its troops to your soil to DIE in an effort to push an invader off YOUR land, you don't fuck them over down the road. Period.


#17

Agreed.


#18

I meant that a little tongue in cheek, sorry, I know what you meant. I was not trying to be childish, I was sort of suggesting that the topic had many avenues.


#19

Incredibly ignorant, historically inaccurate statement. US stepped in after the war was pretty much won by Soviets. US did help USSR with food, but the most important battles were won in 1942 and early 1943 when that help wasn't there yet (I think). US was not a key to winning WW2. I can't believe that so many Americans are not aware of May 9 as a V-day for WW2 - the day Germany capitulated.


#20

I think one of the big reasons that there is this USA-France tension is that we are so very similar. Both cultures are very ethnocentric - Americans often think they are right about everything and the French often think they are always right about everything.

Take for example some of the immigration issues in both countries today, large portions of the public in both countries would love to see immigration curbed, and there is a great deal of debate on the assimilation of immigrants - namely in both countries there has been a great deal of discussion on the importance or merits of immigrants learning the national language, be it english or french, as in both countries growing portions of the immigrant population have poor or no ability to speak the native tounge.

There is also the issue of the US having assumed the role of world leader in recent time, shifting the world from a pax francona to a pax americana. In the era of pax francona the language of diplomacy was french as the french served as the facilitators of much international interaction - not terribly unlike the US today.

Now the emergence of english as the international language of business, diplomacy and the like is readily observable. Surely I have only touched on a few of many causes for the tension between our two countries' people, but I wanted to point out that we really are a lot alike, which may well be one of the causes of tension. Human beings ususally have more in common than they don't.