The Great Debate – French style

(no debate here …yet. Photo by:

There is nothing that the French love to do more than talk. It’s their favorite pastime. And no French conversation would be complete without a debate. The French love to disagree and debate probably because it allows them to continue a conversation that might’ve otherwise fizzled if everyone was on the same page. A French debate can vary from a minor blip on the conversation radar to a full blown disagreement with raised voices. In American culture, disagreement is something that we are taught to avoid but in French culture it is acceptable to have debates. This doesn’t mean that you should be screaming, throwing things or cursing at the person but rather it isn’t a bad thing to disagree with someone. Even when debates do get heated in a French conversation, it is quite common for things to be patched up in the end with everyone leaving on good terms. But it can be uncomfortable if you’re not used to it. French disagreements made the top things that French people do that make Anglophones uncomfortable in this Comme une Française video.

So what are they debating over? Everything! But the French’s most popular areas of debate are the French language and politics. But the topic of the disagreement is not the important part of the debate, it’s the way in which the French do it.

The expression- you know a debate is coming when you hear key expressions such as “ah, bon?”, “tu crois?”, or “eh ben, écoutes” you know a debate is coming.

The facial expression- a debate is really heating up when the facial expressions start. My favorite is the cheek puffing. It’s very slight but shows that the person does not agree with the other person on a more elevated level. Think of a chipmunk with full cheeks on a smaller scale and happening really quickly.

frustrated(Things are getting heavy when the cheek puffing startts- photo by:

The Goal- just like in any debate, the goal is show your partner in conversation that you are right and they are wrong.

What to do- if you feel uncomfortable, change the topic! But don’t tap out the moment you become uncomfortable- stay and navigate the conversation. You’ll learn a lot about French culture and language that you wouldn’t witness in normal conversations

Disagreements are fascinating parts of French conversation that will help you to immerse fully into the study abroad experience by partaking in a favorite cultural pastime- the debate.


4 thoughts on “The Great Debate – French style”

  1. Dear Jan-U,What a nice surprise to discover our hero Drigung Chöje and yourself up on the blogosphere! I’d like to welcome you with a very nice Katag, but it’s hard to send through this digital medium. So I’m placing one on my monitor as I type, And now a second one, yellow for expansion and growth. May the Tibetological blogsphere expand to fill the entire realm of dharmas with truth, beauty and realization (or OK, understanding if you happen to be the venerable Sa-pan). Verses of auspiciousness repeated over and over again.Yours,D.

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