J’ai un point de côté.
zhay uh pwaad koh-TAY. Click below to hear this.*
I have a stitch in my side.
Françoise went jogging, and this is how she ended up: with un point de côté. You may already be familiar with un point as a punctuation mark (a period), a dot, the thrust of an argument, a point of view. But perhaps you didn’t know that un point is also a sudden, sharp, highly localized pain.
So does that have anything to do with sewing? After all, the English version talks about a stitch in one’s side. Should you start worrying about your appendix and the stitches they will sew you up with?
Surprisingly enough, that stitch has only an accidental relation with sewing. That particular stitch originates from an Old and Middle English word that evolved into stick in Modern English. In other words, that stitch in your side feels like a poke from a sharp stick in your side.
And that brings us back to the French, un point de côté, which refers to the pain itself rather than its apparent or imagined source. Note that une côte is a rib, but un côté is a side–of anything, from a box to a body. This type of pain is in your side, not your rib. Adam and Eve had nothing to do with it.
*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: