Saturday, December 31, 2011


Exercising rights 
Here's a popular and low-brow (but fun) French expression from days gone by--and inspired by the late 19th century liberation of women from their tight corsets and cumbersome skirts so they could pedal bicycles:  Je ne te demande pas si ta grand-mère fait du vélo. (I don't ask you if your grandmother rides a bike; i.e., I haven't asked your advice, mind your own business.)

A delightful réplique to quell indiscreet questions, the expression is used as a refrain in a 1925 hit opérette Trois Jeunes Filles Nues, Est-ce que je te demande.

un vélo: a bike; the word is short for vélocipède
une grand-mère:  a grandmother
demander:  to ask
une bicyclette:  a bicycle
une réplique:  a retort
une opérette:  a musical genre mixing comedy, song and dance

©2011 P.B. Lecron

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