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Loving your paintings this week Darling Hannah! Particularly the seductive green eyes of " younf French man". Having also been born. Intheblate 1950's( I know... fucking ancient, to bandy around with insouisance a swear word in English😂) yes, the " dole" was a fortune compared to the measly shambles which our society's underpriveledged are expected to survive on . I admire the French for not taking things lying down and always willing to make it known when they dissaprove of decisions

made by their leaders. I like the solidarity and bold fearlessness.

Its so interesting too to think why certain words cause such offence. I rather like the subversive naughtiness of the C word, I like the shock on peoples faces when they see an old woman being so disgraceful! Its also a great way to describe a person for which any other word simply wouldnt do!

Splendid read as always Hannah thank you so much . Love from Scotland and its deeply noisy wildlife ( STILL mating like crazy) x

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I was born in 1953. My wife was born in 1959. I think kids born in the late 50's were raised in modernity, compared to kids born in the early to mid 50's. School changed or something.

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Apr 23, 2023Liked by Hannah Meltzer

Hi Hannah, a great Monday morning read for me as always, so thank you :)

Fascinating re: swearing. I also grew up in a very non-sweary family in the UK. I don't think I ever even dared utter the word "crap" around my parents and would probably still feel uncomfortable doing so. Such was their way and influence.

When I moved out of home and went to university, there was a lot more swearing for sure, but it wasn't until I moved to Australia that swearing was just everywhere. I don't think it's quite the same as in France, but there are certainly demographics here where c*** is an everyday word that can have all manner of meanings in expression (it's absolutely not one I'd ever use though. Most would still refer to it as "dropping the c bomb"). It certainly wouldn't ever dropped casually on radio during the day, but we just went to a show at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival and Ivan Aristeguieta did a whole bit about this and how it's part of Australian culture.

My question: are there *any* French swear words that are considered truly offensive/taboo?

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Thank you for reading! So I asked my friend Diane this, as I thought that each culture needs these words, and she said not really. Saying that, there are lighter swap-Ins you use in front of kids, like ‘punaise’ instead of ‘putain’, so it’s not like they’re just totally neutral. Let me investigate further this week! Also I need to write about québécois swear words because they’re great -- all old church words like ‘chalice’ and ‘tabernacle’. Thank you so much for your support and postcard is coming 💌

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(No hurry on the postcard, but thank you :D)

Omg yes on the Québécois swear words! Hilarious.

That leads me to another thought: quintessential French sayings/idioms.

I read this awesome piece on Russian animal idioms: https://whenhopewrites.substack.com/p/fun-animal-based-idioms-in-russian

I love hearing of sayings from other languages and I'm sure there must be some good ones in French.

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My dad was a working man who grew up around gangsters. He swore: words like sob, Jesus Christ, Goddammit, etc. But he never said an f-bomb in front of us. Of course, once I went away to college in 1972 and lived in an all-male dorm, the f-word was in every sentence, describing the best of times and the worst of times. The c-word never caught on.

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Very honoured by the mention of the podcast – thanks Hannah. I agree, seems there was a wonderful period in the 80s when creative people could live quite affordably in London while carving out the beginnings of a career. I’ve heard Graham Norton talk about this too I think – and Bernardine Evaristo writes brilliantly about it in her memoir Manifesto, and in more fictionalised terms in her novel Girl, Woman, Other. So we probably have the dole (and 1980s art school culture too) to thank for a whole generation of interesting artists here. Also worth mentioning that Geoff Dyer’s parents were a metalworker and a dinner lady, in case anybody assumes from the Oxford education that he was from an upper-class family. Another brilliant letter, thank you!

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Thank you, Hattie! I realise I should also link out to your newsletter, I shall add that now.

Yes, I meant to put too that he was from an ordinary family and that this room around the edges was available to more kinds of people then, not just the independently wealthy/comfortable.

and yes, thank you the dole

xx

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Hannah you outdid yourself this week! Such an interesting newsletter from top to bottom. The "c-word" may be the most vulgar word you can use in the States. I find it amusing that it is used rather fluently in France. I also thought that the British use it fairly commonly; an example is this video of Brit's singing Donald Trump a much deserved lulaby: https://youtube.com/shorts/dbwEqyFgqEQ?feature=share

Of course the tune is from a great song by Bruce Channel: https://youtu.be/ik9dxkKriV0

Great drawings. A living wage is a human right.

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The bit about swearing made me laugh! I found out recently that one of my French relatives most used phrase 'Je m'en fous' could roughly translate as 'I don't give a f***'. Not sure if we understood that correctly! It seems a lot more mild in intent when he said it than if we used the phrase in English. I've also seen this with Italian friends - getting the swearing right is tricky.

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Ps please excuse awful typing no excuses!

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