Questions and Answers

To get the best out of this module, keep a pen and note-book handy. Answer the questions in writing, as elaborately as you can, before reading further.

  • What are the stereotypes you can think of when thinking of France ?
  • What is our reference point for such stereotypes ?
  • What comes to your mind when you think of the word 'foreigner' ?
  • What are the indicators of cultural differences between two countries?
  • Can you list five differences between India/ your country of residence and France ?
  • Can you list five similarities between India/ your country of residence and France ?

 

 

answers

 

 

The common stereotypes of France that come to mind are the Eiffel Tower, Paris, French Riviera, Cannes, Louvre, perfumes, romance, wine, cheese, fine dining, high fashion, fine arts...among others. While these French stereotypes do represent France to an extent as a national identity, but that identity is just the tip of an ice-berg. It seldom serves the purpose in 'real-time' administrative or business dealings or even when buying a bread from your neighbourhood boulangerie in Paris, for that matter !

 

Our reference point for forming stereotypes for other countries are usually the media, films, an associate who has been to that country and our own projections and perceptions.

 

The word 'foreigner' means he who is not like 'us'- be it in their skin colour, disposition, behaviour, habits, perceptions, different culture, different national sport, football club affiliation so on and so forth. Our first brush with foreigners comes as tourists in a big city or through the media. In working environment, some of you may have already worked in multi-national companies with 'bosses from H.Q.s abroad'.

 

History, geography, ethnicity, language, religion, social attitudes, values, belief systems, arts etc. are some of the cultural indicators that set one national identity apart from the other. Economic, legal and political systems help in reinforcing such differences. There may be closeness or some shared attributes between some countries eg. Latin countries (France, Spain, Portugal, Italy) have languages that originated from Latin whereas Anglo-Saxon countries (U.K, Germany, Denmark, Netherlands, Austria and Nordic countries) have Germanic languages; European Union countries have Euro as the currency; Chinese characters were the precursors for Chinese, Korean and Japanese language scripts so on and so forth. But for each shared attribute, there are many more differences that exist, thus we can safely say that no two countries are alike.

 

France is as different from India as can be- a single language (French); multi-cultural, multi-ethnic background (as many as 55 nationalities are represented in Paris alone) while India has its fair share of cultural pluralism too; a colonial history (Pondicherry was a former French colony, notwithstanding the earlier French attempts to dominate the Dutch East India company). If the latter would have been successful, we would have had French as our lingua franca in place of English. Oh la la !

 

India and France are more alike than we would like to believe. A rich, cultural heritage is what makes Indians and French proud of their respective national lineage. Mutual respect in terms of its heritage and potential as a tourist destination is other. Gastronomic delights of Indian and French cuisine are world famous. Love of cinematic and other arts is common to both the countries. There are many other similarities that we will deal with as we progress along the section.