Friday, 24 February 2017

French Friday

Phil asked me to assume minion duty today and you have no idea how pleased I am. Since I now have your complete attention, why not impose on all challengers a little lesson of French? Have you ever wondered where the word “minion” comes from? (Probably that no one cares, and for good reasons. But I do!) "Minion" comes from the French word “mignon”, you are correct! Two points to Griffindor! But strangely, in French, “mignon” means “cute”, while in English “minion” means “servant”. Both these words come from the  Frankish “minnjo” (“love, friendship, affection, memory”) but why are their meanings so far apart?

Prononciation exercise.
 Repeat after Cléopâtre: "Oh qu'il est mignon!"
(From: Astérix et Cléopâtre)

At first, in French, “mignon” would be used to designate your lover. “C’est mon mignon” ["he’s my lover"], would say a widowed Baroness about the young man escorting her to the court. Ronsard, a poet of the 16th Century, famous for his beautiful sonnets and for being far from handsome himself, would vainly try to seduce women by writing them hundreds of poems, calling them “mignonne”, but to no avail. Today, we have Ronsard's poetry but no descendants.

From 1574, “mignons” would designate the frivolous young men who became the favorites of King Henri III of France. Of course, there was the implied connotation that these “darlings” were lacking some virile qualities. From then on, the word in English stuck to meaning a “devoted servant”, while the meaning in French reverted to “someone or something that is lovable”, just like the delicious “filet mignon” you will find in fancy restaurants.

There you have it, your French lesson for Friday!

Now on the menu for today:

- Ancient Tanks
- Mixed bag
- WW1 Highlanders
- WW2 Naval

Plat du jour:
- 80's pulp
- Iberian Cavalry
- SCW La Legion
- WW2 Cossacks

- Mish Mash
- Arena Rex

- Special du chef

Bon appétit!



  1. Garçon, we'd like some more interesting over here!

    1. We'll pardon your French Peter!
      @ Sylvain Chapeau mon ami!

  2. A little joke for those who speak the language of Kings :

    Comment appelle-t-on quelqu'un qui parle trois langues?Trilingue
    Comment appelle-t-on quelqu'un qui parle deux langues? Bilingue Comment appelle-t-on quelqu'un qui ne parle qu'une langue? Un Anglais

    1. Iannick, truth is, English speakers also have command of Cockney, Slang, Scot, Welsh or Australian, languages that totally elude me. :-).

  3. A terrific introduction Sylvain and I've learned something new.

    Now, I can't get Pepe le Pew out of my head, nonchalantly pursuing Penelope the Pussycat, '...kiss, kiss my filet mignon...'

  4. Ah what a wonderful linguistic detour to star the day - bravo!

    And thank you for relieving me of Minion duties this week - much appreciated.

  5. How on earth did I miss this post last week? Thanks for the etymology lesson Sylvain. However, I don't think it's the case that Henri III's "mignons" were non-virile, more that they weren't virile with the ladies.