Archive for the Category: Latin

Promenades, walks and rides

In French the word promenade (f) /pʀɔm.nad/ can mean a walk: une promenade à pied; a drive: une promenade en voiture, or a (bicycle / horse / sleigh) ride: une promenade à velo / à cheval / en traîneau. You can also talk about going on une promenade en mer / en bateau (a boat […]

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Os

Yesterday I discovered that the French word for bone, os, is pronounced /ɔs/ in the singular, as I suspected, but /o/ in the plural [source]. Os is also used in English as a zoological and medical term for bone and is pronounced /ɒs/ (UK) or /ɑs/ (US). Final consonants of French words aren’t usually pronounced, […]

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Sauve-qui-peut!

One of the things that came up in conversation last night was how to say ‘to save’ in French. As is often the case, there are a number of different translations of this word, depending on the context: sauver = to save (person, animal, jewels, building etc), rescue, salvage – sauver la vie â/de qcn […]

Also posted in English, Etymology, French, Language, Proto-Indo-European 3 Comments

Gilets et camisoles

Last night at the French Conversation Group we were discussing various words for clothing in French. One word the seems to cover quite a few different types of clothing is gilet /ʒi.lɛ/, which on its own means a sleeveless jacket similar to a waistcoat (vest in American English), and apparently comes from the Maghrebi Arabic […]

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Ventriloquism

There was quite a bit of talk about ventriloquism on an episode of QI I watched recently, mainly because one of the guests was a ventriloquist. The word ventriloquism comes for the Latin words venter (stomach, belly, womb) and loquī (to speak) so it means “to speak from the stomach”. It was known as εγγαστριμυθία […]

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Nursery rhymes and computers

Comptine /kɔ̃tin/ is the French for nursery rhyme or for a counting rhyme or song. I learnt it last night and thought I’d look into where it comes from. According Wiktionnaire, comptine is made up of compte (count, number, account) and the suffix -ine. Compte /kɔ̃t/ comes from computus (count, number, account, calculation), from computo […]

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Fence sitting

Last night I learnt the French equivalent of the English idiom, to sit on the fence (to be undecided in opinion, or neutral in action) – ménager la chèvre et le choux [source], or “to keep the goat and the cabbage”. This phrase is also translated as “to face both ways”, “to keep everyone happy”, […]

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Eyelid batting

The other day a friend asked me about the origins of the phrase “to bat an eyelid”, which is normally used in the negative – he didn’t bat an eyelid at the pink elephant in the fridge – and means that you don’t react or show emotion when surprised or shocked. Or in other words, […]

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Rundfunk

I came across the German word Rundfunk the other day and it just appealed to me, so I thought I’d find out more about it. Rundfunk /ˈʀʊntfʊŋk/ means broadcasting, radio, wireless or broadcasting company/corporation, though would probably also be a good name for a band. It also appears in such expressions as: – Rundfunkansager – […]

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Summer chicks and glowing coals

Last night we were talking about the Pili Palas on Anglesey, a butterfly centre, which also has birds, snakes and other exotic creatures. The name is a pun combining pili-pala (butterfly) and palas (palace) – it took me ages to realise this. We were trying to think of the words for butterfly in various other […]

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