Monday, August 10, 2015

Is Trump more sexist than the French language?

Pity the Donald (or don't...), whose remarks about women are gaining him regular tongue-lashings by even the conservative press (and also...hmmm...headlines), but imagine the reception he'd get if he started referring to his wife as "my woman." As in, "Ask my woman Melania if I'm a sexist pig." Well, that is precisely how Frenchmen refer to their wives, because the French do not have a dedicated word for "wife": Femme means both "woman" and "wife."

Note that there is a dedicated word for husband -- mari.  But there is none for "wife." Same is true of son and daughter, by the way. Were he French (hello, France, he's yours if you want him!) Donald would use the same word for Ivanca Trump as he'd use for the girl who polishes his shoes six times a day: fille.

In Flirting with French I relate a conversation I had with a Frenchwoman about this very topic -- and the most amazing part is that she had never realized it until I mentioned it!  

Vive la France ! Vive la différence !


  1. Isn't it LA différence ?

  2. Replies
    1. Ah, but épouse is just a word for "spouse" with masculine and feminine endings (and actually, the female version is épousée), but we still don't have an equivalent for "wife."


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