In David Jones’s hybrid masterpiece In Parenthesis, there’s a soldier with the unlikely name of Dai de la Cote male taile; a footnote tells us to “Cf. Malory, book ix, ch. 1.” Book IX, Chapter 1 of Le Morte d’Arthur begins:
At the court of King Arthur there came a young man and bigly made, and he was richly beseen: and he desired to be made knight of the king, but his over-garment sat over-thwartly, howbeit it was rich cloth of gold. What is your name? said King Arthur. Sir, said he, my name is Breunor le Noire, and within short space ye shall know that I am of good kin. It may well be, said Sir Kay, the Seneschal, but in mockage ye shall be called La Cote Male Taile, that is as much to say, the evil-shapen coat.
So far, so good, but it happens that in French the phrase cote mal taillée means something quite different; this cote is from Latin quota and means ‘quoted value; rating; assessment,” so that faire une cote mal taillée means to make a rough-and-ready assessment, or in general to “split the difference,” to compromise. (Léon Daudet, son of Alphonse, in Vers le roi, says “C’est [le Palais de Justice] le pays de la cote mal taillée, du « Monsieur a raison, mais vous n’avez pas tort », des accommodements entre le vrai et le faux”: ‘[The Law Courts] are the land of the cote mal taillée, of “This gentleman is right, but you, sir, are not wrong,” of compromises between the true and the false.’)
Must create a minor stumbling-block for French-speaking readers attempting Malory. I wonder how it gets translated into French?