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Regards sur la culture: La communication non-verbale
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As you learned in your textbook, speaking and understanding French means learning some of the nonverbal cues that accompany language as well. Many French people are rather expressive when speaking. Some of the expressions you will learn to recognize in French are the following: to express disapproval (in a gesture called a moue), the French thrust out their chin and draw their lips down at the corner of the mouth. To indicate that someone is drunk, they put the fist up to the nose and twist it. To indicate disbelief, they say “mon œil,” or simply pull down slightly on the lower eyelid. A classic French gesture to express “Beats me!” involves raising your shoulders, thrusting your head forward, lifting your eyebrows, protruding your lower lip, and pronouncing a “pppp” sound.

Along with nonverbal cues, learning French also means familiarizing yourself with slang, or argot. The French are great inventors when it comes to language, and have created many colorful expressions and alternative vocabulary words. French young people invented a language called verlan in which words are turned inside out and pronounced backwards (l’envers = verlan). This is applied to words that are already in argot: for example, the slang word for guy is mec. In verlan, this is reversed to form keum. A femme is a meuf.



Do we use gestures to communicate in English? Describe several nonverbal American gestures.

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