In 2005, I returned to France back from a few years in the US. I moved to Paris and I unexpectedly ended missing one thing in particular from the time when I used to teach French to American college students (one thing among others, this one just happened to be unexpected); that is the questions that they often had about France. Some were lame, some very interesting and made me see my own culture under a different aspect. There were also all the clichés and stereotypes that one nation can have about another one.
Shortly after, I remembered that hilarious column called Ask a Mexican! and decided to start a similar thing about France and the French on my homepage that I was in the process of redesigning (yes, I still had a 1990’s homepage back then). The tone was going to be politically incorrect, offensive at times, hopefully funny, but I would also try to be as informative as possible.
Ask a Frenchman was born!
While it remains the same at its core, there are a few things that you need to know, even if you’re a long time reader (there are a few minor changes ahead).
I used to answer any question asked, not anymore. Now, I’ll pick which questions I’ll answer and which ones I’ll ignore, mostly according to one criteria: do I find it interesting or not? Well, I’ve kinda been doing this for a while anyway. The tone is also different. While I’ll try to remain funny when possible, while I’ll still be politically incorrect at times, I’ll try to avoid offending people gratuitously. It was funny when it lasted and when I played this “Frenchman” character, but it wasn’t me, it was a character. Here I write under my own name, and there are too many internet trolls these days, this thing is simply not funny anymore. Was it ever? If I offend or insult someone it has to be for a reason, and I’d rather know the person too, not just a poor fool who asked a stupid question or wrote a stupid comment.
I think those are the two major changes in this newest iteration of Ask a Frenchman.
Still, keep in mind a few things though:
- French people are individuals and as such have a mind of their own, they do not all think the same act the same and feel the same. So, no, I cannot know what this one person thinks just based on the grounds that we share the same nationality. And yes, certain French people may even disagree with me on any given topic (we, French people, are very good at that, disagreeing with each other and then debating the issue for as long as possible).
- I cannot read minds either, so don’t bother asking me about this guy you just met and whether he likes you or not (I know some of you will still do it, don’t expect me to do anything other than send your e-mail to the trash).
- If you’re sure your question about this guy is a cultural one and not a personal one, search the blog (look, there’s a search box at the top of the side bar), I have most likely already answered your question. And generally speaking, I don’t answer questions about relationships anymore, I feel that I have said all there is to say about them, and no, I do not know if that French guy you’ve met likes you or not.
- The process of moving the old blog here is taking a bit longer than expected, so you may still want to check there in case you don’t find your answer here.
To ask a question, you have several options:
- Go to the Contact Page and ask your question. That’s really the best option.
- E-mail me: askthefrenchman @ gmail.com (yes, there are spaces before and after the @ because of spambots, of course, you need to remove them when you’re sending the e-mail).
- Try to avoid asking in the comment section of another post, unless it’s a minor thing related to the topic that you’re commenting in. If not, I will not publish it and will most likely forget about it instead of putting it in my “to do” list.
- Someone someday suggested that I create a forum so that people can discuss various topics, including answering each other the questions that I don’t answer because I don’t want to, or don’t have the time, or simply because they’re minor questions not deserving an entire blog post, or language questions too. While, I won’t create an entire forum (I barely have time to write on my blogs regularly, I simply can’t manage a forum), I created a Google + Community just for that. Feel free to join it and use it as you like (I’ll still moderate it though – no personal attacks, no racism, no homophobia, no spam, well, you know the drill).
Please, note that anonymous comments and questions will not be taken into consideration unless they’re really really interesting. It takes two seconds to invent an alias.
I guess that’s all of the warnings and other disclaimers, so go ahead, enjoy Ask a Frenchman, and if you think you have an interesting question, please ask.