Mèfi and Ratapignata.

This MetaTalk thread (about the owner, Matt Haughey, donating the twitter handle “mefi” to OGC Nice for the use of their eagle mascot) led to a couple of interesting words in Niçois/Niçard, mèfi ‘watch out!’ and ratapignata ‘bat,’ a symbol of Nice:

The ratapignata of Nice is not well-known outside of the city, and even articles on it in French tend to diminish its importance, due largely to its status as a symbol of imperial resistance. […] Nice was once part of the Duché de Savoie, which was not French. It only became part of France just over 150 years ago, and under rather suspicious circumstances – the ballot was stuffed, with people long dead mysteriously voting to become part of France, and votes against the rattachement oddly being lost. Even before that, however, Nice’s place in Savoy was the result of conquest; the Comté de Nice had been a semi-autonomous member of the Comté de Provence starting in the 12th century, after the fall of Rome.

While most French articles about the ratapignata start with the Carnaval of 1875, the black bat has been a counterweight to the royal eagle for much longer than that. Indeed, as this excellent article in French by Niçois Eric Fontan notes, it symbolizes the power of the people, being the eagle turned upside down. With its wings open wide, to the difference of the more restrained eagle, it is also said to represent the desire of Niçois to take an active part in their city’s affairs.

The linked article I quoted from is by Anna Stevenson, “Located in Nice, France since June 2000, and Paris since March 2014.”


  1. Bob Gillham says

    The twelfth century after the fall of Rome… Really, Rome,Illinois then?

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