Wednesday, January 23, 2008

swearwords, chicken, eyes

Swearwords, particularly those invoking the deity, directly or euphemistically, go quickly out of fashion. This thought is provoked when I come across the strange and delightful French word saperlipopette, now out of date and used only humorously. It is apparently related to sacristi, sapristi and saprelotto, all of which mean, as does saperlipopette, "for God's sake", "good grief" or "good heavens". My dictionary suggests "gadzooks" or "gad" for saperlipopette, which, I suppose, emphasises its antiquity as well as its reluctance to invoke the name of the lord in vain.

A visitor has asked me to make a new version of a crayon drawing of a chicken, which I did some years ago. "Only smaller, " she said. Reluctant to make a boring copy, I take care not to look at the original. The result is that, in the new picture, now taking shape, the chicken has adopted a different position, its beak closer to the ground, its tail higher in the air.

Looking for things to post in the focus of a blog like this one, I find, requires a special kind of attention. Marcel Proust puts his finger on it: "The real magic lies not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes."

2 comments:

Dave said...

Love that Proust quote! I may steal it.

Lucy said...

At last I've actually heard one of your obscure French expressions before! My students told me about saperlipopette a while ago, though I'd since forgotten it.