Saperlipopette! I have a new favourite word.

L'Elegance du HerissonI found it in L’Elegance du Herisson by Muriel Barbery. I’ve been reading the book for the past week or so now. My copy is in French. It’s my most ambitious attempt so far at reading a French novel, and it’s slow going. Until now I thought I had a wide French vocabulary, but Muriel has put me in my place. I had no idea there are so many words I don’t know. Including saperlipopette.

Sadly, this wonderful word (often attributed to Tintin) has fallen out of fashion in modern French. It is an interjection, and  means something like ‘gadzooks’ or ‘goodness gracious’.

Saperlipopette has replaced my previous favourite French word. Although it’s not a word, more of a phrase. The fabulous au fur et à mesure, which means ‘as you go along’, now moves to second place.

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September 27, 2010