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AWADmail Issue 473

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language

From: Ken Kirste (kkkirste sbcglobal.net)
Subject: nouveau riche
Def: Someone who has recently acquired wealth, especially one who displays this in an ostentatious fashion.

Creators of the comic book character Richie Rich introduce his aunt "Noovo Rich" early in the series.

Ken Kirste, Sunnyvale, California

From: Nicholas Wagg (wagg cbn.net.id)
Subject: Nouveau riche

Nouveau riche has a slight odious reputation, but as a friend used to say "better nouveau than never."

Nicholas Wagg, Johannesburg, South Africa

Email of the Week - (Brought to you by One Up! - Are you wicked/smart?)

From: Elisabeth Hopkins (hopkins.e free.fr)
Subject: Nouveau Riche

There used to be another word for nouveau riche in French, although it is somewhat obsolete today: BOF. It was used after the last World War to mention those people who had become rich fast selling beurre, oeufs, fromage (butter, egg, cheese) on the black market.

Elisabeth Hopkins, Paris, France

From: Vitaly Kisin (new_words blueyonder.co.uk)
Subject: nouveau riche

You may be amused by the latest member of this group: nouveau russe, to describe the wave of Russian nouveau riches that poured out of the post-Soviet Russia, an unpleasant and incongruously ostentatious species. I had invented this term for myself some time ago but other people had produced the obvious derivation too.

Vitaly Kisin, Bristol, UK

From: Jeffrey Wyant (jrwyant aol.com)
Subject: mise en scene
Def: 1. The setting of a scene in a play, movie, etc. 2. The setting or background of an event.

While mise en scene is the setting for the scene in a movie, it is also a technique of filmmaking in which the action of scene is designed to take place within a single shot, more like a stage play, rather than the action of a scene being designed to tell the story by editing together different shots in sequence, which would be montage.

Sergei Eisentein or Dziga Vertov would be directorial examples of montage, while many scenes of La Regle de Jeu (The Rules of the Game) by Jean Renoir would be examples of mise en scene. The opening scene in Orson Welles's Touch of Evil and the opening scene in Robert Altman's The Player are each outstanding examples of mise en scene in which lots of actions tell the story in a single long shot. The French new Wave critique Andre Bazín wrote eloquently on the purpose and effect of these two dialectical techniques.

Jeffrey Wyant, New York, New York

From: Christina Szirmai (christinaszirmai gmail.com)
Subject: Mise en scene

Mise en place is a term used in many professional kitchens, means everything you need to cook. It can include everything from utensils to dishes of prepared ingredients and is very important in making sure that a busy kitchen runs smoothly. No one needs to run to the refrigerator for an ingredient, nor pause to chop or dice something.

Christina Szirmai, Murun, Mongolia

From: Mike Batty (mike.batty xplornet.com)
Subject: pur sang
Def: adjective: Pure; genuine; noun: Someone or something that is genuine; adverb: Genuinely; in all respects.

In the sixties a Spanish motorcycle company, Bultaco, made an excellent motocross bike, the Pursang. The company was started in 1959, and had a reputation for making a variety of high performance bikes. I even sold them for several years. When the founder, Senor Bulto died, apparently he asked to be buried in a Bultaco t-shirt and with his moustache properly waxed. That's Pur Sang, I would say.

Mike Batty, Carrying Place, Canada

From: Murray Stone (murraystone xplornet.ca)
Subject: pur sang

See also "pure laine" (pure wool), used in French Canada to refer to those who can trace their ancestry to the original settlers from France. According to one theory, the expression comes from the label found inside the woollen winter cap known everywhere in Canada as a "toque".

Murray Stone, Westerose, Canada

From: Rudy Rosenberg (rudyrr att.net)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--pur sang

In France the most common usage for pur-sang is in horse racing, the US equivalent being thoroughbred.

Rudy Rosenberg, Westbury, New York

From: Russ Talbot (russted internode.on.net)
Subject: Re: pur sang

This is almost exactly what we mean in Australia when we say "Fair Dinkum"! I've not come across a match before.

Russ Talbot, Adelaide, Australia

From: JF Proust (jf.proust forumphyto.fr)
Subject: coup de main
Def: A surprise attack or sudden action.

The English meaning of "coup de main" is quite funny for French-speaking people. Currently, in French, we use "coup de main" more commonly for:

1) A little help, for a job, a desperate situation... "Il m'a donné un coup de main." : "He gave me some help."
2) A know-how in a practical or concrete profession. "Il a un sacré coup de main." : "He's got goddamned know-how."

JF Proust, Bretagne, France

From: Rudy Rosenberg (rudyrr att.net)
Subject: Terms from French

I don't know if soupe du jour will be on your agenda but I recall, in Dallas Texas, in a fancy restaurant, "soupe du jour" was on the menu. Being a soup lover I inquired, "What is the soupe du jour?"
The waitress looked at me with a pained look and replied, "That is the soup of the day!"

Rudy Rosenberg, Westbury, New York

From: Craig Salvay (CSalvay gmail.com)
Subject: French words

I hope you will cover redingote this week. Interesting origin: From the English, riding coat, to the French voicing of that word, redingote, to the return of the word to England in its French form, redingote.

Craig Salvay, Prairie Village, Kansas

Language is the amber in which a thousand precious and subtle thoughts have been safely embedded and preserved. -Richard C. Trench, poet (1807-1886)

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