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these funny idioms French people use # 012

September 20, 2010
We don’t say “[This paper] reviews the effects of martial instability and living arrangements on children’s well-fare (…)” is a nice misprint, but “[This paper] reviews the effects of martial instability and living arrangements on children’s well-fare (…)” is a nice shell [“[This paper] reviews the effects of martial instability and living arrangements on children’s well-fare (…)” est une jolie coquille].
I am very inclined to propagate that the difference relies on some kind of the following anecdote: one day long time ago, when monks were the only ones to know the secrets of printing, a monk would have put some shell on the paper during lunch break, the ink would have followed and dried like this and consequences would have been a E turned F for example.
Turns out one of the potential etymologies is a much more poetic legend: in the Journal officiel (which as its names says is the very official journal of new laws, legal texts and other governmental blabla in France), coquille (shell) would have been printed without the q, therefore as couille, with basically means bollocks. Oops. Much more poetic, I told you.
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