Ne t’en fais pas !

Ne t’en fais pas !

n tah fay PAH! Click below to hear this!

Don’t get all upset! Don’t worry about it!

Another expression that appears to be nonsense when you try to dissect it. Don’t make any of it to yourself? What could they possibly be talking about?

Actually, it makes perfect sense, from a linguistic point of view. Scientifically? Not so much.

Since en is the pronoun stand-in for de plus a noun, the logical question is, what’s it stand for here? And the answer is de la bile. Ne te fais pas de la bile.

And in the medical world of a couple centuries ago, it was believed that various “humors,” related to the emotions, controlled the physical state of the body. So if you were angry or worked up over something, you were making too much bile, which led to various illnesses.

So the complete expression is using eighteenth-century terminology to tell you not to get all worked up about something. The short version, Ne t’en fais pas, has lost its medical reference point.

Note that another thing that gets lost is the ne at the beginning. Sometimes people don’t even write it, but they know it is there. It may be no more than a tiny /n/ sound before you get to the rest of the sentence–almost nothing more than a hesitation. That’s easy to do, because your tongue is already in position for the /t/ sound that follows. All you have to do is decide whether or not you feel like voicing the /n/. It’s not a big deal, so (ne) t’en fais pas.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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