Thursday, April 29, 2010

Amusing

Today, I discovered that a French idiom for "it's raining cats and dogs" is « il pleut des hallebardes, » which literally means "it's raining halberds."

Somewhere, Gary Gygax is smiling.

28 comments:

  1. Je ne crois pas que c'est l'expression la plus répandue pour cette idée. Je ne l'ai jamais entendu en France, ou je passe au moins un mois par an pour visiter ma famille et maintenir ma maîtrise (j'enseigne le Français au Etats Unis). J'entend souvent "Il pleut a seaux" ou "Il pleut a flots," et même des fois votre expression traduit "Il pleut des chats et des chiens," mais jamais "Il pleut des hallebardes." Malheureusement votre source semble être archaïque.

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  2. It may well be an archaic expression, but it's amusing nonetheless.

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  3. I should note BTW that I came across the expression in reference to Victor Hugo, so it's certainly possible that it's dropped from common use since the 19th century.

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  4. It also suggests a new spell ...

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  5. How is it unfortunate that the term is archaïque?

    I say all the better!

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  6. This is the best blog post of the week!

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  7. I could see "It's raining battle-axes" as a Dwarf expression. :)

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  8. True story: Dwarves don't have archers, they just dump weapon bins from a higher floor.

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  9. There is also, "Il pleut des cordes." --
    "It's raining ropes."

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  10. Dominik said:
    There is also, "Il pleut des cordes." --
    "It's raining ropes."

    Oui.

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  11. Forgive my French, it's been a while, but I need to get in a plug for my favorite polearm. In Switzerland, might they say, "Il pleut les marteaux de Lucerne?"

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  12. « il pleut des hallebardes, »

    On such days I suggest that we stay indoors.

    I love the imagery of 'its raining ropes.'

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  13. What's the proper form of "It's raining glaive-guisarmes"?

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  14. Yes, "il pleut des hallebardes" is definitely a real expression (and has long been one of my personal favorites). True, it may not the most common expression nowadays but it still gets used and people still do know it. At any rate it's got great gaming appeal -- as Matt said it does conjure images of a really awesome spell (gives me chills just thinking about it).

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  15. There's an old Spanish idiom, "llueven chuzos de punta", which is quite similar.

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  16. True, "Il pleut des hallebardes" is not in common use anymore in France.

    BtW, you're totally right about Hugo, James. "Il pleut des hallebardes" is in Les Misérables (Tome IV, Livre septième: L'argot, Chapitre II: Racines).

    Another funny French idiom (still in use) on heavy rain is "Il pleut comme vache qui pisse". Tentative translation: "It's raining like peeing cow."

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  17. It seems that « il pleut des hallebardes » is common enough that Google Translate correctly renders it as "raining cats and dogs". That may be due to literary uses, but it is still a data point.

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  18. Gygax is smiling? I heard he was dead. Creepy.

    Happy is the tomb where no game designer hath lain, and happy the town at night whose game designers are all ashes.

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  19. In Italy we say "piove a catinelle", that is, "it rains as if water is poured from bowls."

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  20. Swiss warriors were quite famous during the late middle age and "Renaissance". They used to fight with halberds and pikes.

    On one occasion, when the french army was besieging a castle defended by swiss mercenaries, the swiss lacked crossbows and had to throw their halberds on the poor french footmen.

    The king (François I, mind you!) ordered a frontal assault but the Connetable answered:

    "Mais, Sire, nous ne pouvons! Il pleut des hallebardes"...

    The expression lasted...

    Of course, this is a story I just invented, but I like to think it happened that way :)

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  22. If "cats and dogs" becomes "halberds" in French, I shudder to think what the translation for the song title, "It's Raining Men," would be... Trebuchet?

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  23. Of course, the truly Gygaxian French idiom is « il pleut des glaive-guisarmes ». ;)

    @Pekka: I presume that would place us lot in the position of "...the worm that gnaws".

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  24. @Anthony: "I could see "It's raining battle-axes" as a Dwarf expression. :) "

    If dwarves had any word for "rain", that is... : D

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  25. Oui, bon, c'est plein de francophones par ici. A quand un article sur Gygax et La France, James ?

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  26. As long as it's not raining Bardiches....

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  27. Funny post, and better comments.

    As Lektu Said, in Spanish we still have a similar phrase "caen chuzos de punta" And its old fashioned but its still in use.

    A "chuzo" its a polearm but simpler than the Halberd, normally was used by the Nightwatch as a weapon and to light the Lamps.

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