Sauve qui peut !

Sauve qui peut !

sohv kee PUH! Click below to hear this pronounced. 

Each man for himself!

Okay, first of all, please don’t blame me: that’s how the expression goes in English. Each man. Of course, you and I understand that that means each man or woman.

Secondly, the French sounds like some sort of telegraphic language: Save who can. (It’s the sort of language you find in proverbs: missing subjects, missing connecting words of all sorts.) You are on the Titanic. Women and children first, my foot. This really means: Whoever can save him or herself, should go ahead and do it! Or, alternatively, Save yourself if you can!

Nowadays, this phrase gets used in conversations about companies that are going under, political campaigns or demonstrations gone terribly wrong, cynical observations on society and values. Each of us must decide: Is this one of the values I want to live by?

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