I've been to Paris but once, alas, and I found the residents to be quite cordial, if not downright polite. On our first day, at one restaurant with non-English-speaking proprietors two fellow customers saw our befuddlement and helped us navigate the menu. Other acts of kidness ensued over the next week, sullied only by a ripoff-artist cab driver.

But I don't doubt that some of the city's reputation for rudeness came the old-fashioned way, often abetted by tourists who didn't try to speak the language or comport themsleves admirably, either. So I was not surprised to see this story about a concerted effort to promote optimum etiquette.

The 30,000 copies of "Do you speak Touriste?" being dispensed to waiters and sales clerks includes sundry greetings and cultural advice. To wit: While the Chinese are "fervent shoppers," we Amercians want to be reassured about prices.


-- Bill Ward