Il a refusé d’emblée.

Il a refusé d’emblée.

ee lah ruh-few-zay dah-BLAY. Click below to hear this!

He refused on the spot.

This guy was a little hasty. He gave no consideration at all to the proposal, the invitation, whatever it was. Il a refusé d’emblée. In English, we might also say He refused out of hand.

But what’s an emblée? What can you do with it, what’s it used for?

Nothing. There’s no such thing as an emblée, not any more, anyway. The first documented use of this expression was in 1490. But as far back as the 11th century, there was an Old French verb embler, which meant to throw oneself upon, from the Latin involare, which contains the root word for fly. So the general idea is to fling oneself somewhere, probably at the enemy’s fortifications.

So d’emblée suggests doing something precipitously, without forethought, perhaps impetuously but also vigorously. So his refusal d’emblée doesn’t leave a lot of room for negotiation.

One thing that is non-negotiable: pronunciation. Be sure not to let your lips close down into an /m/ before the /b/ in emblée. The m is not a “real” letter, but a marker for the nasal sound. And don’t let a /y/ sound creep into the second syllable of refusé. The sound I approximate with /ew/ sounds nothing like you. You should not feel your tongue moving while you are producing that sound.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.


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