Il a touché des pots-de-vin.
ee lah too-shay day pohd-VAA. Click below to hear this.*
He took bribes.
If des bribes aren’t bribes (see yesterday’s post), neither are des pots-de-vin pots of wine. Not exactly, anyway!
A bribe, of course, can be whatever the other guy wants in return for doing you a favor. It could be anything from a pile of cash to a friendly drink, un pot. What’s in the pot? Beer, wine, even a cup of coffee. But this is France, so there’s a good chance it’s du vin.
So un pot de vin is just a glass of wine. But hyphenate it, like this: un pot-de-vin, and it becomes something altogether different: a bribe.
And the plural is des pots-de-vin. Only the glasses are plural, not the wine.
*Some mobile phones, such as Blackberries, won’t display the audio player. If no player appears, here’s an alternative link to the audio file: