Il m’a tout donné en vrac.

Il m’a tout donné en vrac.

eel mah too duh-nay ah VRAACK. Click below to hear this.

He dumped it all on me.

“It”, in this case, presumably consisting of a stack of unfiled papers, all the mismatched socks from the laundry, or a completely disorganized story purporting to clarify everything.

En vrac is a great French expression meaning in a totally disorganized manner or appearance. You’ll never believe the origin of the word: it comes from an early 17th-century Dutch word wrac or wraec, meaning–are you ready?–spoiled or improperly salted herring.

There must have been an important herring trade in Europe around that time, to account for the adoption of this word! Of course it would be distressing if someone dumped a load of wraec on your hands. It would be a complete wreck.

And by the way, it’s hard not to suppose that the English wreck doesn’t have the same origin, especially since one way to acquire a load of spoiled herring is to have a shipwreck. But that may not be the case. There was a Middle English word wrek that had to do with driving (cattle, for example, not cars), and that may have given us wreck.

There’s no single English word that translates the sense of en vrac; dumping conveys it best for me.

Check back tomorrow for a look at the word order in this seemingly simple sentence! I’m pretty sure I can manage to confuse you completely!

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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