MUCHEMBLED.

I just ran across a reference to the historian Robert Muchembled, and of course wondered about the origin of that odd family name, which didn’t look especially French. So I googled and googled, and was about to give up when I got a hit on Google Books for J. B. Jouancoux, Études pour servir à un glossaire étymologique du patois picard (Jeunet, 1880), p. 214, at the end of the entry for mucher ‘cacher [to hide]’: “Le nom de famille Muchembled, cache-en-blé, est assez répandu en Picardie” [The family name Muchembled, ‘hide-in-wheat,’ is fairly widespread in Picardy]. So that answers that. My questions are: Does anybody know if the final –d in the name is silent, as is implied by its equivalence to blé? And what is the difference in use between blé and froment, which are both defined as ‘wheat’?
Update. Fernand Carton, a linguist specializing in Picard, says that embler in Old Picard meant ‘to steal,’ so that the name was originally Muchemblé ‘one who hides stolen goods,’ a sobriquet embarrassing enough that it was disguised with the -d and reinterpreted as ‘hide-in-grain.’ Authoritative and satisfying, and I thank Geraint (see comments below) for contacting Professor Picard and passing on the results.

Comments

  1. Interesting – I don’t currently have access to my usual etymological resources as I am trapped by a cat, but from the Wiktionary entry it would seem that ‘blé’ was originally a generic word for grain or cereal in general, similar to ‘corn’ in English (still frequently used generically in England, although it has become completely specific to maize in North America), and came into French via Frankish ‘blet’, therefore it has a Germanic source.
    ‘Froment’ I intuitively connect with ‘frumenty’ (although I can’t confirm that intuition right now, I’m fairly confident.). It seems as though that particular root has longer been more closely associated with the wheat plant, but it is connected to the Latin root ‘frumentum’ or ‘grain’.
    So ‘blé’ is Frankish and was a more general noun more recently, ‘froment’ is Latin and has been specific for longer.

  2. As to pronunciation, I know very little about picard (aka chti’mi, but from what I can tell word final stops are not pronounced. (source)

  3. From Littré:
    Bourguig. bliai ; provenç. et catal. blat ; ital biada ; piémontais, biava ; bas-lat. bladum, blavum, blava, blavium.

  4. Trond Engen says:

    If there’s a Germanic origin, it seems to have been the “blade” word, Germanic *blada- n., or some derivation(s) thereof. The diversity of the Romance forms suggests several Germanic sourcewords with different gender, doesn’t it? Anyway, with relatives like Latin flo:s and Old Irish bláth, both “flower”, the original meaning of the word may have been more like “produce of a plant”.

  5. Mark Etherton says:

    The dictionnaire of the Academie gives the following:
    FROMENT n. m. XIIe siècle, furment. Issu du latin frumentum, « céréale, grain, blé ».Toute variété de blé. Dans l’usage ordinaire, désigne la meilleure et la plus fine qualité de cette céréale (se dit aussi bien de la plante que du grain récolté).
    BLÉ n. m. XIe siècle, blet. De l’ancien bas francique *blad, « produit d’un champ, récolte ».
    1. Céréale herbacée annuelle, de la famille des Graminées, cultivée pour ses grains dont on tire la farine servant à la fabrication du pain.
    3. Le grain de cette céréale, une fois séparé de l’épi (on dit aussi Froment, voir ce mot).
    From which it would appear that the immortals concede a certain amount of overlap between the two words.

  6. I live most of the time in France, not far from Carcassonne. My local supermarket sells a ‘boule de froment’ which is the only place I ever see the word ‘froment’. Blé seems much more common but mostly in health food shops. Mark Etherton’s mention of the word ‘épi’ is interesting as I have often seen references to ‘baguépi’ (which may be a trade name) referring to a baguettes.

  7. My local supermarket sells a ‘boule de froment’ which is the only place I ever see the word ‘froment’. Blé seems much more common but mostly in health food shops.
    Thanks, but I’m still confused. If blé is the normal word for ‘wheat’ (Triticum), I wouldn’t expect it to be used “mostly in health food shops.” When you look out of the car window and see a waving field of wheat, what do you call it?
    It just occurred to me I could go to Wikipedia and find the French article linked to English Wheat, and it turns out to be Blé. And that article distinguishes “le blé dur (Triticum turgidum ssp durum),” “surtout cultivé dans les zones chaudes et sèches (sud de l’Europe, par exemple sud de la France ou Italie),” from “le blé tendre, ou froment (Triticum æstivum),” which is “cultivé dans les hautes latitudes (par exemple en France, au Canada, en Ukraine).” So apparently there is, at least theoretically, a distinction.

  8. marie-lucie says:

    I can confirm most of what others have said.
    The generic term for “wheat”, and previously for “corn” (not maize), is le blé, a word of Germanic origin dating from the Franks and other conquerors, who had a strong influence on the Latin speech of Northern Gaul. In addition to just le blé “wheat”, there is le blé noir, lit “black wheat” as an alternate term for le sarrasin “buckwheat” (not a true wheat), and formerly le blé d’Inde “Indian corn” (= maize), a term still used in Canada.
    Le froment means specifically “wheat”, especially in the context of the flour, not so much the plant. To me it is somewhat literary, but in Southern France (where Carcassonne is) it seems to be used more commonly than blé.
    Un épi is an “ear” of wheat, maize, etc. I think that the “baguépi” is a fancy, novelty kind of baguette shaped to look roughly like an ear of wheat. I have seen those baguettes, but I don’t know if they are made of the same flour as other breads. As they have more crust than regular baguettes, they must dry up even faster.

  9. marie-lucie says:

    LH, French bread is made with blé tendre “soft wheat”, not hard wheat which makes pasta. So generic wheat flour in France, sold for home comsumption, is not the same as North American wheat flour (one reason it is difficult to make French bread in North America). A bag of flour will usually say farine de blé rather than farine de froment, but French bread is very rarely made at home, so flour is bought for pastry and other non-bread uses. Whole wheat is blé entier.
    If soft wheat is grown in colder, moister areas, hard wheat in warmer, drier areas, it makes sense that Southerners buy froment flour coming from the North, while le blé is what grows in some of the fields around them (as well as le seigle “rye” in the mountains).

  10. M-L, I’m confused – if US wheat baking flour is different fiorm French home-style baking flour, which is itself not the kind used for bread, why is US flour wrong? Just also wrong, but in a different way? Most US flour is specified as “all-purpose” (which it can’t be) or for other uses, such as cake flour. I think that means more soft wheat. It has to do with gluten content.

  11. marie-lucie says:

    Jim, I am not much of a baker, so I am not totally sure myself! I am repeating some of what I have gleaned here and there. I think that “cake” or “pastry” flour is made with a different kind of flour from “all-purpose”, but how different I don’t quite know. For sure there are several varieties of both hard and soft wheat.
    I am sure that Hatters with more interest in baking than I have will have more specific answers.

  12. marie-lucie says:

    Blé in Southern French health food stores: that must be because the products are from farther away and carry a generic label, while the boules de froment are made on the spot and use the local term. Perhaps there other, more traditional kinds of boules made in Carcassonne, for instance boules de seigle?

  13. marie-lucie says:

    (Warning: I had originally written “the products *c*o*m*e* from far away” [without the asterisks] and the message was refused “due to questionable content” – the software did not like the sequence *c*o*m* after the word “products”.)

  14. Northern European store-bought flour is different from the US varieties available to the consumer. I don’t know the technical differences. I seem to remember it had to do with the gluten content as well as differences in the proportions of the wheat varieties mixed into the meal.
    I used to have a cookbook written by and for German women who had come to the US, entitled “Das Mehl ist anders”. “The flour is different” was just the most prominent of the differences in ingredients they discussed and compensated for.

  15. Baguépi is a trademark. They have their own website http://www.baguepi.fr/ where they present their different kinds of baguette, using the expression “farine de blé”.

  16. marie-lucie says:

    Thank you, bruessel. At this point you are much closer to Baguépi, geographically speaking, than I am. Although French bread is still made and sold mostly in small neighbourhood boulangeries, I think that Baguépi must be one of the modern companies that produce the flour and distribute it with recipes to franchised bakers.

  17. I wonder how somebody got a name meaning “hide-in-wheat” in the first place.

  18. American flours are graded by the amount of protein (that it, gluten). European flours are typed by the amount of ash left over when the flour is incinerated (mg / 100g in Germany; 1/10 that in France, I believe). These are somewhat independent measures, meaning that once you package things for local conventional uses, you don’t have a direct correspondence.
    US all purpose flour is about 11% protein / .5 % ash. Flour for French bread has about the same protein, but twice the ash. At that amount of ash in the US, you have correspondingly higher gluten, say 18%, like for pizza dough. But larger markets here carry specialty flours, with names like “French Style” for just that.

  19. In Jersey, there’s been a shift in meanings: blié is barley (usually) and fronment or trémais is wheat. Apparently (according to the Dictionnaire Jersiais-Français), blié also refers to barley in some other parts of Normandy – but which other regions isn’t specified nor am I aware of them.
    As for the name, I’d imagine it’d be like other surnames derived from dwellings – I’d assume an origin in a farmstead surrounded by grainfields.

  20. I don’t imagine Holden Muchembled would been successful as the name of a novel character. But think of Caulfield: could that come from “cabbage field” or “sheepfold” ? Or even (joke) “hidden in the field”, with caul = shroud ??

  21. I wonder how somebody got a name meaning “hide-in-wheat” in the first place.
    Yes, it obviously predates ‘Catcher in the Rye’.

  22. A very interesting post and comment’s thread!
    Of course, I have nothing to add to the original question. But although I really don’t know how US’s “cake” flour is, I guess may be it contain some kind of yeast or baking powder. Here that kind of flour is called “harina leudante” (“Blancaflor” is the most traditional brand), but I remember at first it wasn’t easy to find the same product in Brazil because its specific name is too different (I don’t remember exactly how it was)

  23. According to the WiPe on wheat flour, “cake flour” merely has a lower gluten content than “bread flour”. “Cake flour” yields a different final texture:

    Soft flour is comparatively low in gluten and so results in a finer or crumbly texture.[1] Soft flour is usually divided into cake flour, which is the lowest in gluten, and pastry flour, which has slightly more gluten than cake flour.

    But harina leudante sounds like a mixture of flour and leavening agent. Julia, is that what the Blanciflor product is ?

  24. Possibly of interest around here: the Dictionnaire des verbes qui manquent is now available in hard copy.

  25. I believe that harina leudante is ‘self-rising flour’ in the States and that Brazilian Portuguese says farinha com fermento.
    In addition to the gluten content (say, 7% cake, 8% pastry), cake flours are bleached.

  26. Yes, Grumbly & MMcM, that’s exactly what “harina leudante” is. …
    Sorry to have diverted the thread of the conversation. I’ll e-mail you my orange and brown sugar cake for redeem myself!
    But then I still don’t get what cake flour is.

  27. Here is my answer, now I know. http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-cake-flour.htm
    Así nadie tiene que molestarse en explicármelo 🙂

  28. That is that??
    But why do so many Frenchmen hide in the wheat?
    (Yes, I’m willing to be the sacrificial straight man. I’m a cotton woman, wheatless.)

  29. “I wonder how somebody got a name meaning “hide-in-wheat” in the first place.”
    Because that’s where the family’s ancestor was conceived during carnival? Although maybe not; I found out recently that “Castro” does not mean “army camp” anymore, has not for awhile, and isn’t the source of that name.

  30. Maybe the family’s ancestor, as an infant, was hidden in a wheatfield when Pharaoh’s soldiers came around.

  31. marie-lucie says:

    bled
    bled 1 Last night I wanted to look something up in La Fontaine’s Fables (17th century), discovered that I did not have any of them handy and found some in the original spelling on the internet. In one of them was the word bled at the end of a line, and the word it rhymed with made it clear that the d was silent.
    bled 2 In contemporary French there is un bled, which ends in the sound d. It is a borrowing from Arabic dating from the conquest of Algeria and is used as a deprecative word for a village or piece of country, usually connoting geographical remoteness and lack of cultural sophistication.

  32. So bled2 corresponds in many ways with English ‘boondocks’

  33. Or, if you’re Californian, “tules.”

  34. bled 2 In contemporary French there is un bled, which ends in the sound d. It is a borrowing from Arabic dating from the conquest of Algeria and is used as a deprecative word for a village or piece of country, usually connoting geographical remoteness and lack of cultural sophistication.
    The Arabic root b-l-d, depending on vocalization, can mean village, country and just about anything in between.
    During their days in the Middle East the British borrowed Arabic “bint”, daughter. The British English meaning is similar to American English “a broad.”
    One might muse on which foreign terms different nations choose to adopt . . .

  35. “Tules” is literally bulrushes. Ha, the baby Moses story again. (Not that he was actually hidden in the bulrushes by the river, right? It was a little boat made of bulrushes. Or* anyway, of some kind of stalks … )
    * What with all this talk of comma placement, here and at Language Log, too, punctuating, I feel like a centipede thinking about how to walk. Should there be a comma before “anyway”?

  36. marie-lucie says:

    Jim: So bled2 corresponds in many ways with English ‘boondocks’
    In the more general sense, it has the same connotation of being remote and uninteresting, but it usually refers to a specific village: you often hear un petit bled, or un bled perdu (not “a lost village” but one that is far from the main roads and hard to find your way to).

  37. 50 years ago we were told at school that British wheat was good for cakes and that we imported Canadian for bread. We needed to be told because we knew nothing about wheat; our corn was oats.

  38. Boondocks, tules …
    Over here in the northwest of North America we say ‘sticks’. I assume this originated in 18th century British Naval parlance.

  39. Blé was one of the first French words I can remember knowing because the box of crackers had on one side of it the legend, Craquelins de Blé. (I STR the crackers were “stoned wheat thins” but I don’t remember what the French for “stoned” was. “Defoncé” maybe?

  40. ‘self-rising flour’ in the States
    I always thought it was ‘self-raising flour’.

  41. Well, well, it appears ‘self-rising flour’ is normal in the States.
    The difference is curious. ‘Self-rising’ because the dough ‘rises’ by itself. ‘Self-raising’ because the dough ‘raises’ itself. I’m not sure which is more logical…

  42. “Defoncé” maybe?
    I know those crackers, too. Concassé

  43. Even when bread dough is made the old-fashioned way (by adding yeast and water to flour), one speaks of dough rising. It rises by itself. And it wouldn’t be illogical to say that it raises itself. On the other hand, no flour rises by itself, exactly, or raises itself. Illogical. Oh, well. The same goes for those self-storage places.

  44. marie-lucie says:

    the crackers were “stoned wheat thins” but I don’t remember what the French for “stoned” was. “Defoncé” maybe?
    Défoncé might mean “stoned”, but not in the context of “wheat thins”. Etymologically it comes from the word fond “bottom (of a well, a box, etc)”. If you step on a cardboard box, for instance, you are going to défoncer it. Some drugs might act on you that way if you are not careful.
    Concasser refers to breaking things into smaller pieces, such as breaking stones to make gravel, or grains to make smaller pieces without grinding them into flour. In the context of “wheat thins” it applies to the bits of unground grain mixed up with the flour that these crackers are made of.
    In France the typical old-fashioned craquelins are a specialty of Saint-Malo (a fortified city, home of privateers and of Newfoundland cod fishermen). They don’t look like crackers, they are larger, roundish and not flat since they curl up into almost a bowl shape during baking. They must have been a primitive type of “pilot biscuits”.

  45. marie-lucie says:

    Self-r(a)ising flour contains a leavening agent.

  46. Jim, Hat, Paul Ogden–
    “Boondocks” is indeed very close in meaning to “bled”, and interestingly both words derive from the dominant language of the first major French and American colony, respectively: “bled” derives from (Algerian) Arabic, and “boondocks” from Tagalog. “Tules”, which entered English from New Mexico Spanish, does seem to fit the same pattern (see below).
    A parallel comes to mind: German GRENZE is one of the very few early Slavic loanwords to have entered the language. In all these cases we are dealing with native languages whose impact (lexical or other) on the invading language was minimal, and whose prestige may have been so low that (I would guess) one of the few loanwords that could enter the (various) invading languages was in fact one referring to peripheral/marginal status.

  47. “Tules”, which entered English from New Mexico Spanish, does seem to fit the same pattern (see below). ”
    It’s a common term in California, where it refers to the reeds in marshes in the Delta. It certainly came via Spanish, because ‘tullin’ is Nahautl, same plant too, but I doubt it came by way of New Mexico, but directly from Mexico.
    In this case it was just a standard borrowing for a new previously unknown thing, like elote, metate, avocado, chocolate, or chili – regardless of how marginal or not the donor language was.

  48. @Jim:
    Is “elote” now used in English in California? (I’m a native Californian, but haven’t lived there for years). Wouldn’t surprise me, but I haven’t heard it.

  49. ‘During their days in the Middle East the British borrowed Arabic “bint”, daughter. The British English meaning is similar to American English “a broad”.’
    Hmmm – I’d have said “bint” in BrE meant something rather worse than “broad” in AmE. “Jim’s bint” would mean “the woman of loose morals with whom Jim is having a semi-permanent sexual relationship”.

  50. “broad” in (my dialect of) English is pretty out-of-date; but I would understand it to mean essentially that. I always thought of it as synonymous with “floozy”.

  51. I think that when “broad” was current slang it was a slightly disrespectful term but did not necessarily imply anything beyond “woman”. The same goes for “bint”, from what I’ve heard.

  52. “Is “elote” now used in English in California? (I’m a native Californian, but haven’t lived there for years). Wouldn’t surprise me, but I haven’t heard it.”
    No, and neither is metate. I was talking there about words going into Mexican Spanish. “Tamales” have made it into California English, but ‘tamal’ has not. Unfortunately people use it that Malinche word ‘masa’, so that’s what would go into Englsih.
    “Hmmm – I’d have said “bint” in BrE meant something rather worse than “broad” in AmE. “Jim’s bint” would mean “the woman of loose morals with whom Jim is having a semi-permanent sexual relationship”.”
    So that’s wherre that came from. The first time I heard it, I thought it was an Islamophobic/anti-Semitic slur – ‘bint Ibrahim’, but people turned not not to be using it that way.
    Broad is really pretty different. A lot more confident and dominant. It is pretty dated too. It fell out of use in the 60’s, along with the popularity of Marilyn Monroe type actreses.

  53. Tamales” have made it into California English, but ‘tamal’ has not
    Or anywhere in the US. Even the staff at Mexican restaurants have learned to say “tamale” as the singular when speaking to non-Spanish-speakers.
    “Elote” is a nice single word for what takes four words to say in English. But “corn on the cob” has such a homey sound, I doubt most Americans would give it up.

  54. I raised the question of Muchembled with Mariel Demaye of the Picard language blog “chmahon-vert” (http://chmariel.canalblog.com/). Ch’Mariel was kind enough to provide an extensive reply and to allow me to share it here (as he wrote: “j’ai foèt cho por équ’tu rinvoèches à tes lindjuisses pi qu’is sé nn’in sért’nt… pi dé l’réclame por chés picards, cha n’put mie foère équ’du bien!”):
    Après quelques recherches et échanges avec mes amis linguistes picards, voilà ce que je peux te dire pour t’éclairer à propos du nom de famille « Muchembled.
    Bled veut dire blé mais aussi peut vouloir dire récolte en général.
    Blad en ancien bas-francique veut dire “produit de la terre”.
    Muche dans un nom de famille du nord de la France est plutôt à rapprocher de muse, musette… c’est-à-dire sac.
    Museau vient de “musus” en bas-latin et sauf erreur, on gonflait les joues (qui servaient de sac) pour jouer de la musette (ou cornemuse) au Moyen-Age.
    On trouve le nom quasi exclusivement en Picardie et Nord – Pas-de-Calais.
    Muchembled pourrait donc signifier sac de blé ou de céréales.
    Celui qui portait ce nom était-il cache-manée ?… Fabriquait-il des sacs ?… Vendait-il du blé ?… ou encore était-il trafiquant de céréales ?…
    Les noms de famille (qui datent pour la plupart du 11/12ème siècle) gardent toujours une part de mystère et beaucoup viennent de surpitchets (surnoms).
    Il existe aussi le nom de famille Muidebled dans la Somme : le muid était une unité de mesure.
    Sur l’aire linguistique picarde, muchosa, mouchafou, piposac, pipocha sont les nombreuses dénominations de la cornemuse. Pipasso est un nom récent distribué pour “repicardifier” la cornemuse…
    On trouve dans les recherches d’Edouard FLEURY (XIXè) sur les représentations d’instruments dans l’Aisne, la “muse de bled”, notamment dans la description d’un concert d’anges qui est peint sur la voûte d’un transept de l’église de Coucy-la-Ville (XIVè siècle)
    Par ailleurs, dans un livre du XIXè siècle, relatant l’histoire du “procès de Nicole de Vervins” (un exorcisme qui s’est déroulé au XVIè et qui s’achève en la cathédrale de Laon), on trouve la “muse à brassi” …
    Il pourrait y avoir un rapprochement à faire entre “muse de bled” et “muchenbled”.
    En Thiérache bled veut dire blé. Il y avait le village de “La Vallée aux bleds”, remplacé il y a quelques années par des ignares complexés, par “La Vallée au blé”.

  55. Thanks very much, and please pass on my heartfelt thanks to Mariel Demaye! For non-Francophones, it seems the first part of the name is actually related to muse, musette ‘bag, sack,’ which comes from Vulgar Latin musus, so the name means ‘sack of grain.’ As to what might have resulted in that name, as Demaye says, family names always retain a certain amount of mystery.

  56. 1-For non-picardophones, here’s my (tentative!)translation of Mariel’s words: “I did this in order that you return to your linguists [that’s us, I suppose] and that they make use of it…and in order to raise the profile of Picards, which can only do me good”.
    2-Don’t be fooled by the spelling and the etymology: BLED “wheat”, back when the final consonant was pronounced, was realized as /blet/, not /bled/: final consonants in Old French were always devoiced.
    2-Okay, “tules” is out. That still leaves “boondocks”, “bled” and “Grenze”, and I do believe that I was on to something in my comment above.

  57. marie-lucie says:

    Nice to see some Picard written.
    Muchembled: I don’t see how this name could be from muse en bled to mean sac à blé (“bag for wheat”): en has to mean “in”, à means “to, for” and other prepositional meanings but never “in”. I think that the analysis first quoted by LH, from the verb mucher “to hide”, therefore cache-en-blé, must be the right one, even if in some areas la muche can be equivalent to la muse, a kind of bag. That reference is dated 1880, when Picard must have been more alive than it is now, and I would trust the author more than a modern source (I understand that Picard is being revived, like Occitan – but “revived” implies having been near death).
    The diminutive la musette denotes not just any kind of bag or sack but a kind of not very large bag with a long strap for carrying it over one shoulder and across the body (before backpacks became popular). I associate it with weekend anglers, and the TLFI also mentions soldiers, cyclists and small game hunters: it could carry one’s lunch as well as one’s catch (such as a few fish or a rabbit). The word also refers to a small kind of bagpipe.

  58. Google Translate renders muid as ‘homer’. Is that the Biblical unit of dry measure omer ‘sheaf’ = 3.64 liters? Or is GT somehow connecting it with home runs in baseball?

  59. Homers in a cornfield? Field of Dreams

  60. An additional theory has now reached me. This time from Professor Fernand Carton (_the_ Fernand Carton, of “Feller-Carton system” fame) of the University of Nancy, again via the good offices of Mariel Demaye.
    Professor Carton writes:
    Ce nom MUCHEMBLED, bien picard, représente un vénérable sobriquet.
    Embler en ancien picard signifie ” voler”, et emblé est un participe passé…
    Mucher, comme tu sais, signifie “cacher”.
    Le nom signifie:
    Qui cache ce qu’il a volé = “recéleur”. Désagréable à porter, ou n’étant plus compris, ce nom a pris un D et on a cru qu’il voulait dire “Cache dans le blé”!
    Bin amiteus’mint à tertoutes et tertous!
    Fernand Carton

  61. marie-lucie says:

    If it is about Picard, and Fernand Carton says it, it must be true. Merci GJ!
    un muid: I had seen this old word many times but had no idea of the size of the measure. According to Wikipedia,fr, it varies according to the nature of the goods (grains, wine) and also the place, but it is usually a very large measure, closer to 300 liters than 3,64. (The article is marred by an incongruous paragraph which should be removed).

  62. David Marjanović says:

    Wheat flour is much more often farine de froment than farine de blé.
    …Am I the only one here who routinely reads ingredients lists?

    le sarrasin “buckwheat” (not a true wheat)

    Not even a grass in the first place.

    So bled2 corresponds in many ways with English ‘boondocks’

    And superbled is East Bumfuck. Y a rien, quoi ! Rien ! C’est superbled, quoi !
    I’ve also read that bled was borrowed in the meaning “wasteland”, and that blédard (with the delicious Frankish suffix) designated a Foreign Legionary who did most of his service in the bled (in the meaning that word had at that time).

    A parallel comes to mind: German GRENZE is one of the very few early Slavic loanwords to have entered the language. In all these cases we are dealing with native languages whose impact (lexical or other) on the invading language was minimal, and whose prestige may have been so low that (I would guess) one of the few loanwords that could enter the (various) invading languages was in fact one referring to peripheral/marginal status.

    But that’s not what it means. It retains exactly the meaning of the original granica: “border, boundary, frontier, limit”… and aren’t all of these English words loans from French? I wonder if there ever were (West?) Germanic words with that kind of meaning.

    final consonants in Old French were always devoiced.

    Interesting. How is that known?

  63. marie-lucie says:

    David:

    Wheat flour is much more often farine de froment than farine de blé.

    It is possible that the EU regulations require more specificity in the ingredients than used to be the case within national borders. When I was young, I knew froment from literary sources, so it sounded strange to me when I actually heard the word used by some Southerners instead of blé.

    blédard (with the delicious Frankish suffix)

    You are correct about the meaning of blédard.
    As for the suffix, it may be delicious to you, but it tends to have less appetizing connotations in French. In most cases it is at least slightly pejorative.

    final consonants in Old French were always devoiced.

    I am not an expert on OF like Etienne, but you see this devoicing in masculine/feminine pairs like OF grant/grande (from lat grandis). The masculine form was later respelled as grand on the model of the feminine, after the final consonant was lost in pronunciation – but notice the pronunciation of grand homme where the letter d = [t] in liaison, and the English borrowing of OF Grant as a family name. Another example is bref/brève from Lat breuis.

  64. Ch’Mariel (http://chmariel.canalblog.com/) passes on more information: In the village where he grew up there was a rag-and-bone man by the name of Muchembled who cycled around with his bike and trailer, blowing a trumpet to advertise his services. And people would come out with their scrap paper, rags, scrap metal, rabbit skins etc. In Mariel’s family there was a saying, a play on words with “muche”: “freume ét’bouque pi muche tes dints, muchembled i s’in vo té zzès prinde in passant!” (shut your mouth and hide your teeth – Muchembled will take them off you as he passes).
    Ch’Mariel also passes on a reminder of the use of “muche” as hiding place. With Picardy being a region much fought over (just think of the Somme in WWI as a recent example), villagers constructed hiding places, the best known surviving complex being that of Naours: http://www.muchesdenaours.com/
    And for the “muchosa”, Picard bagpipes, there’s a Youtube link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a4S1cQ5aYqk

Speak Your Mind

*