As I plow my way, letter after letter, through the alphabet and French idioms, I am more and more aware that the French language is packed with such expressions. While I will always consider the English language very strong and capable to produce impeccable sentences and expertly crafted prose, the French language can be very visual, with its frequent use of food, animals, and even objects as metaphors to express a popular idea.
The idiom du jour for the letter S illustrates, in my opinion, this very French skill.
SAVONNER LA PLANCHE (A QUELQU’UN)
TO RUB THE BOARD WITH SOAP (AGAINST SOMEONE)
TO MAKE LIFE DIFFICULT FOR SOMEBODY
This French expression is based on the metaphor of the “Planche” (Board, Plank) used as a trajectory whose end would be the accomplishment of a specific work.
The area rubbed with soap would make an opponent slip, keeping him away from his goals. The French use also the metaphor of a banana peel for the same meaning.
The photo above doesn’t exactly illustrates the idiom. But I love the scene that represents a French woman of the past at the washhouse, where boards and soap were also used to wash sheets and clothes.
Dit-on toujours autant “Savonner la Planche” en France? Do you know of a similar idiom in English?
See you tomorrow!