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French Etymology
by Creusebear • Sat 29 Jun 2019 14:48

I find word roots fascinating, especially when there is a story, do you know this one?

What links a heatwave to the star Sirius?

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Creusebear
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Re: French Etymology
by RobertArthur • Sun 30 Jun 2019 13:00

Only after visiting Wikipedia, astronomy lessons in la France profonde, I see what you mean. The star Sirius, a very bright one, is member of the "Grand Chien" constellation. In Latin: canis major. Okay, from dog to little dog or puppy brings us to a nice Roman canicula (diminutive of canis). That's the connection between Sirius being visible in summertime, heatwaves, and from the 15th century the French word: canicule.

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Re: French Etymology
by virtdave • Sun 30 Jun 2019 14:21

I think Sirius is most visible in the winter. In the summer, it rises and sets with the sun, adding the heat of its rays to those of the sun, and producing the weather we've been enjoying recently

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Re: French Etymology
by Creusebear • Mon 01 Jul 2019 20:29

That's right - I think that's fascinating! I'm such a nerd!
How about this one:
What links slippers and the Civil Service?

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Re: French Etymology
by RobertArthur • Tue 02 Jul 2019 11:55

Okay, there we go again. I started translating: slipper = pantoufle. Followed by a google search: pantoufle + service public. Followed by a direct landing - once again - on the Wikipedia website. Pantouflage, about the almost eternal mix / thin lines between the French public service and private (?) enterprise. High ranking officials being parachuted in private sector functions. Because when you are one of the happy ENA or École Polytechnic students you can do everything. As long as Paris likes you. Until a minister thinks, let's get rid of him or her to save my own political life.

Nice example in Lemonde, January 25th, 2010: " En juillet 2009, le PDG d'EDF d'alors, Pierre Gadonneix, avait réclamé une hausse de 20 % des tarifs de l'électricité en France sur trois ou quatre ans, afin de financer les investissements du groupe, une déclaration qui avait été vivement critiquée par le gouvernement, et qui lui avait valu son poste. C'est Henri Proglio qui lui a succédé à la tête de l'entreprise publique."

From the English Wikipedia another element to understand the French way of doing it:
<< The term "pantouflage" also applies to politicians who, following an electoral loss or a termination from a ministerial position, assume a private industry, high-paying position without significant responsibilities. This is often undertaken during an interim period when formerly elected politicians vet new opportunities to assume elected office. French popular phrasing describes this scenario as "Emploi fictif," or fake employment. >>

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RobertArthur
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Re: French Etymology
by Creusebear • Sun 07 Jul 2019 17:12

OK next one, more of an idiom:
Delicate and intimate surgery on flies and and an attention to detail!

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Re: French Etymology
by virtdave • Wed 10 Jul 2019 20:44

enculage des mouches!

take a step back for a better jump

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Re: French Etymology
by RobertArthur • Thu 11 Jul 2019 16:26

Okay, Virtdave, you stepped back, a longer runway, to make your jump across the Atlantic, so I fully understand the background of your English translation. But here on the Old Continent in France it looks like that there is another meaning:

Enculer les mouches.
Porter son attention sur des détails de peu d'importance, être extrêmement tatillon. Dans une discussion, avoir un goût prononcé pour les arguties.

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Re: French Etymology
by Creusebear • Wed 17 Jul 2019 17:09

RobertArthur has it!
On to the next:
An unsuccessful romantic encounter and a the position of a common pet.

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