Expressions and dictums

I have learnt a number of expressions and sayings in both Oc and French from Mme El, like ‘peto sec’ which she used by way of comment on Léonine’s choleric outbreaks in her direction. This was strictly between her and me and in a subdued voice. I asked her to explain the meaning to me, but she said that such a coarse term didn’t exist in French… ‘Fleurs sans verdure, je me f… de ta figure’. Flowers without green, f… your face – Mme El about flowers in a vase without any leafy green, like bare daffodils, etc. She insists that a few leaves be added. ‘Fleur fânée, coeur aimé’, the flower is withered, but the heart goes on loving.’ ‘Chimefarafoc’, who will make me a fire – that’s what a cock crows in Oc.
‘A la Sainte Catherine tout plant prend racine’, this was, of course, on Saint Catherine’s day, 25 November, when ‘all plants take root’.
On 8 June we had ‘la Saint Médard’, Saint Medard’s day : ‘Quand il pleut à la saint Médard, il pleut quarante jours plus tard.’, When it rains on Saint Medard’s day, it will rain for forty days after. Fortunately three days later, on Lyn’s birthday, we had ‘Saint Barnabé’ with the relevant saying according to Mme El: ‘Saint Barnabé lui coupe le pied.’, Saint Barnabé cuts off his, Saint Medard’s foot, and Mme El looking pleased! Not so Léonine who informs me that it is the ‘grass under his foot’ which is cut.

Mme El a hidden poet? She wrote into her diary something about ‘le vent d’autan’, which then rhymed with subsequent ‘entretemps’. She noticed the sound effect immediately and went on writing spontaneously ‘qui fait des vers sans le vouloir, est un imbécile sans le savoir’, who makes verses unintentionally is an imbecile unknowingly.
We were talking about her contemporaries in the village most of whom are gone. ‘Ils sont partis’, a helpless hand movement, ‘pour l’Ethiopie’, gone to Ethiopia.
‘Soun pla partido’, ‘je suis bien partie’, I’m off to a good start, says Mme El ironically, faced as she is with the choices in life which are do as she tells you or else…
‘Cal rigola’, let’s laugh about it all, Mme El’s philosophy of life.
‘Fara so que bergo’, Mme El told me and translated ‘ça fera ce que ça voudra’, things will take their course. This was in connection with the human being who by its very nature is subject to ageing which means that wear includes tear, like it or not.
‘Bas toumba’ – you’re going to fall, she says to her great-grandchildren who are tottering about in the yard.
I was holding down a page of her diary and she looked at my finger, noticed a little tear in the skin surrounding the nail and exclaimed ‘vous avez des mensonges’ – you have lies, which is the literal translation of a Langue d’Oc expression, the French equivalent carrying ‘envie’, not ‘mensonge’. I didn’t know this expression and must have looked startled at the sensitive issue ‘lie’. She clarified ‘vous avez menti’, I was still nonplussed, she added ‘pour vous sauver’- in order to save yourself, so be it then.
Mme El is becoming reckless with apparently diminishing faculties, for when writing, her spelling is uncertain at times, especially when two different terms sound the same, like ‘la / la’ or ‘c’est / sait’, a is a, apostrophe or not and the same is true of the sound of the other example, what’s the difference? She will write what’s easiest for her, reading it aloud afterwards makes everything perfectly comprehensible. Her language has become a mainly oral one. Also she expresses likes and dislikes more robustly and never mind this daughter-in-law who disapproves, Mme El is unperturbed, I’m pleased to see.
I understand from Léonine ‘tu lui soutiens le moral’, you give her moral support, which was said in a kindly way – when the end was in sight. Mme El also resists the physiotherapists who shake their head and don’t understand what’s going on.
Mme El consistently writes out figures as words, that’s what they learned at school and she sticks to it.
She unperturbedly records the daily weather in her diary. It’s all one to her: ‘Il fait beau mais gris’ , or ‘gris mais beau’, ‘beau mais froid’, ‘beau mais de la pluie’. The weather is fine in any case and the rest is included.
‘Achi que soun pla’, ‘là’, not ‘ici’, she insisted, ‘je suis bien’ – ‘there/ here I am fine ‘gasto-salso’, ‘gâte-sauce’, spoil the sauce, she said, I had just thrown out at her request some of the excessive, to my mind, amount of water she must drink every day.
Mme El put again a question she had already asked me and I explained again. She interrupted me saying that ‘vous ressemblez à un curé’, you resemble a vicar. I wondered what she meant and she ‘vous prêchez’, you are preaching. I said this was exactly what my husband accuses me of, and she ‘je me f… de votre mari, ce n’est pas une reproche!’ – f… your husband, it’s not a reproach. It put me in a right good mood and I told Steve on my return. He laughed at the coincidence and strolled off to choir practice.