Posts Tagged ‘faire la ligne’

The British are known for how seriously they take queueing up, but I say the Québécois are just as particular. It’s not for nothing “Québec” shares the same first three letters as “queue.”

(Before I go on, I know that “queueing” can also [or should?] be spelled “queuing,” but I like all the vowels in “queueing.” Humour me.)

There are four times in particular where you break queueing rules at your own risk:

1. Waiting for the bus
2. Waiting to be served at the cash
3. Waiting for the bank machine
4. Using an escalator

You’ll see lines form spontaneously at a bus stop. The first person stands where the pole is, and the people who arrive after that person line up behind. If you arrive last but get on the bus before the others, be prepared for some nasty looks or comments.

People queue up in the métro too, but it’s less strict than at bus stops. There’s less time to be so particular about it because the doors aren’t going to stay open forever. But even then, I think most people have the expectation that you’ll attempt to queue up behind those arrows.

In places where you pay at the cash, you’ll also see lines form. It’s even common to see the next person to be served leave more than a metre of space between him and the person already being served at the cash, rather than stand right behind the person being served. If you’re from a place where people rush to the cash to be served, you may not even realise that person is waiting to be served next.

I remember a time when I stood two metres away from the cash looking at the overhead menus deciding what to order, and three people asked me if I was waiting to be served. I had to move even farther away to stop confusing people.

The same goes for bank machines. People will leave more than a metre of space behind the person already using the machine. Everybody queues up behind the next person in line.

On an escalator, the right side of the step is for standing, the left side of the step is for walking up or down. You’ll often see everybody lined up on the right side of the escalator with the left side unobstructed for those who want to pass by quickly.

If you stand on the left side of the step instead of the right side, you’ll probably set off some huffing and puffing behind you if someone wants to get past but is too polite to tell you to get out of the way.

How do you say “queue up” or “line up” in French? You might come across three ways:

faire la file
faire la queue
faire la ligne

I might suggest you use faire la file.

Faire la ligne is felt by some people to be incorrect because it’s influenced by the English word “line.”

As for faire la queue, it’s considered to be entirely correct, but it’s a little iffy for some people because queue can refer informally to the penis.

If you say faire la file, you’re always in the clear!

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