Les chiens aboient, la caravane passe.
lay shee-yaa ah-bwah, lah kaa-raa-vaan pahss. Click below to hear this.
Let the world say what it will.
More like a proverb than an expression in French! And so easy to conjure up an image: desert sands, tents with silken fringe surrounding the door-flaps, thin mutts dashing out to bark at the passing camels and their jangling harnesses, the scent of exotic spices, tightly bundled, wafting on the hot dry air…
It doesn’t have to be that exotic. Most dogs, including mine, will bark at almost anything, real or imaginary. And of course the story isn’t really about dogs at all. People will gossip about almost anything, true or not.
The lesson of this proverb is to ignore the dogs (and mean-spirited people) and go about your business. They’ll stop eventually, when they are distracted by some other juicy tidbit, or the caravane passes.
Aboyer, by the way, means to bark. Why is there no y in aboient? That, said Scheherazade (or someone else), is a tale for another day. And, unlike the caravan, it won’t pass but will stick around to annoy the heck out of you if you don’t already know the rule.