…et j’en passe.
…ay zhah paass. Click below to hear this.
It always seems to me that et cetera, that is, etc., is the lazy speaker’s solution: I don’t feel like thinking hard enough to add items to my list, so I’ll just let you imagine them for yourself.
The French expression …et j’en passe, on the other hand, sounds as if the speaker is trying to do us a favor: I could go on and on, but I’ll spare you the additional details. (I don’t want to bore you, or hurt your feelings, or insult you by imagining that you can’t imagine the rest… et j’en passe.) Literally, it means and I’m skipping over some (of them, whatever “they” are). One of the many meanings of passer is to skip or pass over.
Note that French speakers also say etc. When they write it out, they write et cetera, just like the English. But take note also of the pronunciation: If you are speaking French, you never pronounce the t in et. No liaison, nothing. But if you are speaking Latin, you are supposed to pretend that you are pronouncing Latin properly. That means that you say /et/ for et. The phrase is correctly pronounced /et say-tay-RAH/.
Watch out for /ex-set-uh-rah/, in English or in French. That’s just sloppy pronunciation, and it obscures the spelling, origin, and correct meaning of the expression.
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