Re: OFFTOPIC: What is "francais hexagonal"?

From: Alain LaBont\i (
Date: Tue Nov 17 1998 - 15:50:19 EST

A 10:35 98-11-17 -0800, John Cowan a écrit :
>I ran into this term, and was mystified: obviously "hexagonal
>(six-sided?) French" is not a useful translation.

[Alain] :
You should read "Parlez-vous hexagonal?" You would laugh.

French citizens call their country [ubiquitously within their territory,
even on TV news everyday] the "hexagon" (the current continental frontiers
of France roughly have this shape).

"Hexagonal French" is therefore ultra-franco-French-French (to the
exclusion of Belgian, Swiss, Québecer, Canadian, African, Asian or
Polynesian French -- I'm not even sure if it includes Corsican French
[Corsica is indeed a very near island integrated in the French territory,
and the French don't yet have the habit to exclude it, but it is not within
the hexagon per se]), and it does not even include French as spoken in
"départements français d'outremer" (French overseas "departments", even if
these administrative subdivisions [one would perhaps say "counties" in the
anglo-saxon world, with one "member of parliament" each] are integral parts
of France -- St-Pierre-et-Miquelon, inside the Gulf of St. Lawrence [yes,
shared territorial waters with Canada which surrounds the islands], and
Tahiti [South Pacific], are two cases in point).

That said "hexagonal French" is also used as a satiric expression. French
citizens have the habit to use a lot of idiomatic expressions and acronyms,
even on road signs, that everybody in the world should know, and which it
doesn't even if they speak excellent French... (see the above-mentioned
quoted book).

An example: instead of indicating "gare [de chemin de fer]" (railroad
station) on street panels in many cities, downtown, in France, they will
only write "SNCF" and you're supposed to know what it means (it means
"Société national des chemins de fer [français]" [or more precisely, it is
metadeta to really mean rather "the railway station that is owned by the
state-owned railroad company whose acronym is SNCF"]).

The term "hexagonal" is also "hexagonal French", it simply means "French".
Full stop. You're supposed to know that, like you're supposed to know what
*the* Pentagon is in the USA (I guess that nowadays the whole world knows
this "secret" place (: )

There are a lot of analogy (extremes often touch each other quite closely)
between the American view of the world and the Hexagonal view of the world
(I could add "and the British way too": if you look at British postage
stamps, the country name is not written, you're supposed to know (; they
invented postage stamps after all, and the others just did not have to
copy, that's all.)

Just in case you ask, there is also another dialect (many more exist
indeed) these days in Paris: "verlan" is one of them ("verlan" is "envers"
[reverse] in verlan [a made up language where you simply reverse syllables
of a word -- if you have seen the movie "Les ripoux" [i.e. "les pourris",
"the rotten", corrupted policemen], and its sequel, you know what I mean;
this has become prevalent in some quarters of Paris; I guess it is even no
longer "langoxaelly" cryptic to most Hexagonians; "verlan" is fluently and
fluidly spoken in some Paris suburbs).

(: (;

Alain LaBonté

(an hexagonophile, peripentagonophile, and nevertheless not
[tri]angulophobe (*) !) (;

(*) I should add "not tetragonophobe": Québecers used to call English
people "têtes carrées" (square heads), imho an allusion to the cockney
English term "bloke" (a "person"), whose analogy with French "bloc" is
obvious (:

England, "the land of the Angles" (interesting, isn't it?), is also itself
roughly triangular. That completes the landscape.

My gospel theory in England (known by many people out there): Britain is
the Québec of Europe! (;

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