J’ai écorné presque toutes les pages.

J’ai écorné presque toutes les pages.

zhay ay-kor-nay press-kuh toot lay PAHZH. Click below to hear this.*

I’ve dog-eared almost all the pages.

I’m reading another novel! This one is called Les Stances à Sophie, by Christiane Rochefort. It’s an old one (published in 1963, bought in 1985), and my copy is falling apart. By the time I finish rereading it, all the pages will be free-floating.

In the meantime, however, it’s a regular feast. Nearly every page has another expression that I want to write about. And how will I ever find them, if I don’t dog-ear the pages? That’s why I say J’ai écorné presque toutes les pages.

Where did écorner come from? It clearly has nothing to do dogs, even though the English suggests folding down the corners of the pages the way a dog’s ears flop over so endearingly.

The French invokes a different animal. How about cows, for example? The original meaning of écorner was to de-horn, to remove the horns of a beast. The horns being the pointy part, it makes sense that the meaning should have shifted to nicking the corner of something, such as a stone or a piece of furniture. And then to dog-earing pages of a book–the corners of the pages also being the pointy part.

Anyway, I plan to regale you with the colorful language (not R-rated; just funny or picturesque) of the book’s narrator. Her name is Céline, and she has a mind of her own.

*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:



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