Je fais le pont.

Je fais le pont.

zhuh fayl PAW.  

I’m taking a long weekend.

What on earth? I’m making the bridge…that’s what this says literally. What do bridges have to do with weekends?

As we all know, a weekend has two days: Saturday and Sunday, for a majority of workers. And Monday comes abruptly (and is often unwelcome). But let’s say you take Monday off, too. That’s your bridge, your transition, back into the work week. Theoretically, it makes it easier to go back to work, right? (I did say theoretically.)

So: Je fais le pont.

Don’t you want to know a little more about weekends? In pre-World War II French, the weekend was la fin de semaine (lah faad suh-MEN). The work week was typically Monday through Saturday, with only Sundays off. It wasn’t a real weekend, as we think of it today, just one precious day off.

Then came the post-war era (l’après-guerre, lah-PRAY GAYR, the after-war). Economic expansion. More people in the workforce. And the influence of the Anglo-Saxon model, the five-day work week, which was introduced in the US by Henry Ford in 1926 and in France in 1936. By l’après-guerre, the 40-hour work week was widespread.

A new word was needed to describe this new phenomenon–two days off at the end of the week! Because the practice took hold in Great Britain before it took hold in France, the English word was adopted: le weekend (usually pronounced luh wee-KEND). Nowadays, la fin de semaine simply refers to the days near the end of the week: Thursday and Friday, for example. Je vais terminer le rapport vers la fin de semaine (zhuh vay tare-mee-NAY luh raa-PORE vair lah faad suh-MEN). I’m going to finish the report around the end of the week.

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