J’attends le remboursement de mes arrhes.
zhaa-tah luh rah-boor-suh-mahd may ZAAR. Click below to hear this.
I’m waiting for my deposit to be returned.
A few days ago, I wrote about the interesting word arrhes, meaning a deposit or down payment. You can reread that post here, if you like. Today I have a couple more things to say about it.
To begin with, the question of les arrhes is carefully defined and controlled by French law. If you are agreeing to rent a house from me, let’s say, and if you back out of the agreement after paying your deposit (les arrhes), I get to keep your money, because you are the one who broke the agreement.
On the other hand, let’s say I renege on the contract. Not only must I repay your deposit, I must repay you double the amount you had put down. And since la bourse is my purse, le remboursement is the “back-in-purse-ness”, to coin a phrase. The buyer is protected from frivolous, malicious, fickle, or dishonest sellers. That’s a good thing.
But I also promised to share with you if I learned anything else about the word, so here are a couple of other remarks.
First of all, my sister-in-law’s colleague at Villanova University, Don, tells me that erabon (or eravon), the ultimate source of arrhes, still exists in modern Hebrew. It means collateral, which is something you promise instead of money. If you buy a fancy boat and don’t bother paying off the loan, the boat itself is collateral for the loan you took out. No money, no boat.
And here’s another take on the word. I wondered if it was used in the Jewish or Christian Scriptures, given how ancient the word is. Another friend, Jana, sent a link to a fascinating article answering that very question. If you are wondering too, here’s the link. Who knew? From an ancient Semitic word central to commerce, to an ancient Greek word central to religion, to a modern French word once again central to business. What an incredible journey!
Alternate audio file link: remboursement-de-mes-arrhes