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“The English Land”, “Have a Crush”: 9 French Expressions Inspired by Women

“The English Land”, “Have a Crush”: 9 French Expressions Inspired by Women

Some are used every day, almost mechanically. The French language is full of expressions that are sometimes very colorful and have an unsuspecting origin. This Wednesday, March 1, 2023, columnist France Inter Guillaume Meurice and director and writer Nathalie Gendrot publish a book that almost died in the egg.

First, End of history Due for release in September 2022 by Le Robert. But he explained that the publisher would have backed off the world, since the book “scratched” Vincent Bollore, it has Lee Robert Editions, the parent company of Vivendi’s major shareholder Editis. Thus, before being fished out by the flamerion, the comic dictionary was suspended.

For this authentic publication, the authors have collected 201 outdated or current French expressions, explaining their meaning and origin, in the “Aha Gallery”. Among them, humorous metaphors are drawn from women who mark the history of France, or from decidedly misogynistic myths.

Expressions derived from history

  • The British have landed

No, King Charles III didn’t explode in the bathroom, which means these somewhat racist expression laws have been around since the 1830s.

Menstrual blood is represented here by the historic British military red line. If they land, it marks French defeats in 1814 and 1815 against a coalition of Austrians, Prussians, Russians and British that “occupied France until 1819,” the authors write. In the north of France, thousands of English soldiers settled with “women, children, dogs, owls, magpies, monkeys…”.

The expression, meaning “a treacherous blow,” comes from a female contest that led to the last royally sanctioned judicial duel in France, which was reinstated by Henry II on July 10, 1547. Five centuries.

Against the background of rumors of an extramarital affair, she antagonized François de Vivo, Lord of Chataineray, and Guy Chabot, Baron de Jarnac. “His sister, Anne, has become Diane de Poitiers’ worst enemy,” the book begins. Thus, Henry II’s favorite “spread the rumor that the Baron de Jarnac owed his fortune to the immoral favors he gave to his father-in-law”.

Faced with humiliation, Guy de Chabot asks the king for compensation, but he cannot attack the Dauphin, so the king demands a duel: “Diane appoints François de Vivonne, duke of La Chatainere, to represent him in a judicial duel. Her champion. God will show what is right and give him the victory.”

After intensive preparation, Guy de Chabot finally distinguished himself against the royal champion: “He prepared seriously with an Italian fencing master, Captain Casi, who taught him moves unknown in France. (…) [François de Vivonne ] Before Chabot pulls out his secret weapon, Chabot lands the first blow with his shield: a back thrust behind the knee. Leg split, the champion collapsed and submitted the next day.

By the 17th century, the authors write, it was “disgraceful” as being “equivalent to a skillful, unexpected gesture”.

Unlike the “posh” people, who were “of high rank, rich” and “sometimes wore a puff on their headgear”, “those who wore collars (…) lengthened their height”, “using a collar stiffened with starch” and supported by “cardboard or iron”.

Started by Catherine de’ Medici, the fashion was “considered obsolete and unfashionable” by the end of Louis XIII’s reign. Therefore, “the expression to be trapped becomes foolish to denote thrift, which may affect the brood.”

  • At the princess’s expense

“The formula comes from the slang of civil servants, who call the administration the princess. When they make travel expenses for the princess, it’s because they put personal travel on the expense report,” Guillaume Meuris and Nathalie Gendrot write. This expression of providing a service free or paid for by the government comes from many historical women with blue blood.

Among them, “after the fall of the Bonapartist Empire in the 1820s (…)” at a time “royalty lost one queen, but there were two princesses”: Duchess of Angouleme, Marie-Thérèse Charlotte of France, daughter of Louis XVI and Marie-Caroline de Bourbon-Céciles. Or Josephine, “who was not a princess, but an empress, the first wife of Napoleon I”.

Solid old misogynistic principles

How many women have been ridiculed for being the boss or mentor in their relationship, referred to as “the one in underwear”? This sexual expression presupposes that the person making the order is wearing this dress, which “represents male attire” and “opposes the regulation petticoat for these women”.

Indeed breeches were “baggy trousers of cotton or velvet at the knees (…) the prerogative of nobles and dignitaries standing, while commoners, artisans, labourers, shopkeepers and artisans wore trousers.”

“He who wears underwear” and therefore holds the role of a rich master of a house, who later takes on the role of a man who has been in a couple for many years. “In the 1770s we owe this brave and respectful speech. A wife should be humble, quiet, always have the last word with her husband, and have a stick to remind him of these basic rules of etiquette” , mention the director and essayist.

“Since this language is unfeminine, the expression ‘making a princess’ is a coincidence, whereas a ‘good prince’ is a generous and magnanimous gentleman”, it underlines with irony and good name. End of history. This expression refers to the fact of “taking oneself for what one does not have” and today takes on a particularly pejorative layer.

“In the Age of Enlightenment, assuming the air of a princess or playing a princess was ridiculous for a commoner, because the society of the ancien régime was based on everyone staying in their place”, the authors note.

Brotherhood and love

He says of someone who is “carefree and innocent”. Like the French soldiers who went to war in August 1914, he “joined the stations with song, proud mustache and fresh smile”. As they pass, “the women throw the bouquets they catch in flight and plant them in the barrel of their gun”.

This women’s tribute, in use since 1918, reads, “A boy leans by the roadside, plucking daisies in honor of his beloved, and here is a flower tied to his bayonet. .”

According to End of history“Before the war it was customary to decorate guns with a bouquet during some military parades. But this colloquialism only flourished after the war, referring to what was historically the innocent enthusiasm of soldiers. The flower with a gun was militarized to represent a joyful spirit in spite of danger.”

One of the explanations for the birth of this childish hoax is far from Christian and is linked to the goddess Aphrodite, from whom the month of April takes its name in ancient Greek. “At the end of the Middle Ages we see that it is more than illicit love, for we send an April Fool’s joke to a mischievous woman, a ‘young matchmaker’, a boy carrying a love letter to his master’s lover”.

At this time of year we fish for mackerel, the authors say, “April fool” or “who lives on whores’ money.”

During the Crusades, men were engaged in holy war and convents were filled with women. Therefore, some “seek a different kind of religious life and, in Liege, form a “movement of initiates.” Consisting largely of single men or widows, they practice their faith without taking a vow of celibacy.

They are identified by wearing turbans, “beginnings” and “living in private houses close to each other”, devoting themselves to “professional activities” from medicine to laundry.

This Sorour community inspired the verb “s’embéguiner”, meaning “to take love foolishly”, and it is said that “to wear one’s hair is to ‘love it'”. This formula would become “a charm” in the 18th century.

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