French Familiarity | à la française

English: French language of Quebec-France

English: French language of Quebec-France (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even though there are few French equivalents to the numerous terms of endearment you English insist on applying to complete strangers, we do sometimes hear market stallholders treating some female customers to a familiar, slightly patronizing ‘ma petite dame’, or even ‘ma chérie’. The latter is very much the same as the English ‘my dear’, and offence mustn’t be taken at either. However, I do personally take exception to the ironically familiar appellation ‘chef’ (literally ‘chief’), in many ways equivalent to ‘mate’, and used to address another male perceived as being ‘superior’. In cases like this, I usually reply in much the same vein by a mockingly egalitarian ‘camarade’. But on some occasions I’ve even been known not to reply at all!

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