Fried Whiting Eyes or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

As I wrote the literal translation for the French idiom du jour, I learned the proper name for the fish called “Merlan” in French.

For some reason I tend to mix and match the French and American names for the countless varieties of fish.

 

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YEUX DE MERLAN FRIT

FRIED WHITING EYES

MOON EYES

 

 

Since the end of the 19th century this expression is used to describe the adoring and a little stupid way people in love can sometimes look at each other.

In the 18th century the comparison was made with a carp and not a whiting.

This kind of look was especially used in old silent movies.

I find the English expression a little more accurate than the French one, although the literal translation made me smile.

 

P.S. The fish above is not a Merlan or a Whiting but a bass, caught (and released) by my son at our Maine cabin last summer.

 

 

A to Z Challenge

See you tomorrow!

 

Bijou, Caillou, Chou, Genou, Hibou, Joujou, Pou: a Twist to a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

Unless you know of a French idiom starting with the letter X, I must give a twist to the expression-du-jour.

I owe the idea to my husband. He masters the French language like a French native and finds a solution to any problem like an American. Merci, thank you, for letting me off the hook with this suggestion.

 

The majority of French nouns mark their plural with the letter S, matching the English most common way. However, like irregular plurals in English, there are some exceptions in French, too.

 

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The most notorious are seven nouns that as a child I learned by heart, in alphabetical order, almost like a short poem.

 

 

BIJOU: JEWEL

CAILLOU: PEBBLE

CHOU: CABBAGE

GENOU: KNEE

HIBOU: OWL

JOUJOU: TOY (a small toy, or a babyish way to name a toy)

POU: LICE

 

These seven nouns ending with the letters O and U don’t mark their plural with an S but an X: Bijoux, Cailloux, Choux, Genoux, Hiboux, Joujoux, Poux.

 

Now, I’m asking my French friends:

Do kids still learn them the same way? Les enfants français apprennent-ils encore ces pluriels irréguliers par cœur?

 

Promise, I’m returning to the French Idioms series tomorrow!

 

A to Z Challenge

 

To Put the Wagons Before the Locomotive or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

As soon as I embarked the A to Z Challenge, I knew that I would write about French idioms and their equivalents in American English. I also knew that I would have some trouble with a few letters. With a little bit of help (merci to my husband and to my Wonderful virtual French friend Lectrice en Campagne), I managed to find an expression for every letter of the alphabet.

Including W, even though W is not the first letter of the idiom-du-jour.

 

Mettre les Wagons Avant la Locomotive

Put the Wagons Before the Locomotive

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

I didn’t find a matching idiom in English. But I personally favor another idiom, which was widely used in my native Normandy and has in addition a perfectly good match in English. It is not surprising to me that the French ‘Boeufs’ became a ‘Horse’ in the US.

 

Mettre la Charrue Avant les Boeufs

To Put the Cart Before the Oxen

To Put the Cart Before the Horse

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

Whatever idiom you prefer, both have the exact same meaning: Doing things the wrong way, confusing cause and effect.

It is also common to use these idioms in the negative form as a warning, such as: “Il ne faut pas mettre les wagons avant la locomotive,” Or: “Il ne faut pas mettre la charrue avant les boeufs.”

Your pick!

A to Z Challenge

See you tomorrow!

To Want the Butter and the Money From the Butter or a Month of French Idioms From A to Z

I especially like today expression because I learned its English equivalent quite soon after I moved to the States. Although it’s supposed to match the French idiom, it remains to this day a little strange to me. For some reason I never found the English idiom as explicit as the French one.

 

 

VOULOIR LE BEURRE ET L’ARGENT DU BEURRE

TO WANT THE BUTTER AND THE MONEY FROM THE BUTTER

YOU CAN’T HAVE YOUR CAKE AND EAT IT (TOO)

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

 

Originating from the end of the 19th century, this French expression illustrates how an honest dairy farmer who makes butter cannot take the money from its sale and sell it again.

In its metaphoric way it is used in France to talk of people who want to keep everything for them without leaving anything to others.

The association between Beurre (Butter) and Argent (Money) illustrates also very well how both can melt easily and quickly.

 

Do you agree or not that the French expression is clearer than its American counterpart?

A to Z Challenge

 

Have a great weekend and see you on Monday!

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