Pruneau cuit, pruneau cru.

It’s Tuesday, c’est mardi (say maar-DEE). And yes, it’s another tonguetwister!

Pruneau cuit, pruneau cru.

prew-no KWEE, prew-no CREW.  Click below to hear this pronounced!  

Cooked prune, raw prune.

You’ll find out soon enough where the pronunciation difficulties lie in this one! So let’s talk about cru, a word that wears many hats. Actually, it’s several very different words, but they all look alike!

In this tonguetwister, cru is a masculine adjective meaning raw, from the Latin crudus meaning bleeding. The English word crude has this same source. This is the word Claude Lévi-Strauss, the famous French anthropologist who died in October 2009 at the age of 100, used in the title of his book Le Cru et le cuit, which discusses what society and culture do to le cru to turn it into le cuit (of course he is talking about much more than food).

Then there’s le cru, a masculine noun from the verb croître, to grow, which means a vineyard or the wine from the grapes that grow in it: un grand cru is a fine wine (understood as coming from one of the great vineyards).

From the same source, we get la crue, a feminine noun that means the flood-stage of a river or lake, its highest level. It’s the level the water rises, or “grows” to.

And finally, don’t forget about cru, the past participle of the verb croire, to believe or think.

As for the fruit, un pruneau is a prune. Une prune is a plum (fresh, not dried).

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