The One French Word You Must Use Daily
The word 'Bonjour' is so very crucial in France. The meaning goes far beyond a cursory “hello”. To say bonjour in France is to “acknowledge the other person as an equal, a person deserving of respect,” says Jackie McGeown, British writer in Paris.
The use of this word is almost a secret code in French society. Even if you don't speak the language, you should learn when to use this word. Here are a few situations where saying bonjour will help your experience in France to be more pleasurable.
When you enter a bolangerie, you absolutely must greet the person behind the counter with bonjour. It seems this is one place where you cannot forget your manners. In fact, anytime you're purchasing goods or services, this greeting is essential.
Walking into a small shop is another location where you should use 'the word'. The employees may greet you first, but be sure to respond. 'Au revoir' upon your departure would be a polite gesture on your part.
In one cafe in Nice, saying, 'Bonjour, un café, s'il vous plait' will dramatically decrease the cost of your coffee. Who knew of the economic advantage a simple hello and thank you could bring?
People such as receptionists, secretaries, security guards and so on, must be honored with this greeting. When you've entered a waiting room and others are present, they too should receive your bonjour.
You may not carry on long conversations with your neighbors, but you really ought to greet them all with bonjour. If you are speaking to someone older, you might warm the cockles of the heart if your greeting extends to 'Bonjour madam/monsieur'.
When at work, it is customary to say bonjour to everyone in the company. In smaller companies, this means poking your head into each office before you begin your workday. If your company has offices spread through the building, you wouldn't be expected to drop in on all of them, but it would be best to find out who you should greet. The individual you pass in the hallway should be greeted, but a group deep in conversation does not need to receive your bonjour.
Don't forget the concierge or garden in your apartment building. If you ignore him, he could inadvertently forget to make that needed repair in your flat.
Greet all occupants of a lift with bonjour when you enter, and say au revoir or bonne journèe when you exit, regardless of how many people come in. These greetings and salutations are expected only in the lifts of office and residential buildings. When in an airport, shopping center or such, this time you're excused.
If you're unsure, you can probably guess the solution: just say Bonjour!
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