Byinvenuns sus la Viqùipédie en normaund


Mischievous Manchois
talk to tourists in patois,
pretend it is French.
There are more Normaund words in
English than you think.

The prompt at dVerse   Meeting the Bar this week is all about de-familiarisation:

…Shklovski goes as far as saying that without defamiliarization there is no art! no poetry, he also says that poetry has to be difficult to read. In his essay Shklovski exemplifies from the work of Tolstoy three techniques that can give this effect:

  • To describe an object without naming it. Thereby forcing the reader to live through the same observations that you do the first day.
  • To describe the situation from the perspective of someone else. Such as Tolstoy used a horse named Kholstomer in his book with the same name.
  • Tell it in a dialect or foreign language making it unfamiliar. Some of our fascination with old poetry lies in the archaic language that makes familiar object seem unfamiliar. But the same works by mixing it with dialects or foreign language.

 Personally I have no wish to read incomprehensible poetry – I can’t see the point, but in the spirit of the prompt, I am re-blogging a poem I wrote a couple of years ago.  I live in the presqu’ île of the Cotentin peninsula.  In this part of Normandy, the local patois varies considerably within a short distance, so my thoughts turned  to the seriously endangered  normaund, with its residual use in British constitutional law.  When a Parliamentary Bill is submitted to the Monarch he/she passes it into law with the words (purely ceremonial nowadays) “La Reine/Le Roy Le Veult” (“The Queen/King Wills It”). There are many words derived from Norman French such as captain, kennel, cattle and canvas which are in common usage in English.

Byinvenuns sus la Viqùipédie en normaund  and to my quasi-tanka.  The last line had refused to be confined to 5 syllables but I’ve just fixed it, rather clumsily!


All poetry, prose and pictures posted here, except where otherwise stated, is my own, and may only be used elsewhere with my expressed permission. Please don't be inhibited from correcting my bloopers and making suggestions: Most of what I post here is instant, ill-considered and off-the-cuff, in serious need of editing.
This entry was posted in re-blogs, short poetry, tanka and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Byinvenuns sus la Viqùipédie en normaund

  1. Susan says:

    I am one who reads your explanations as hungrily as your poem. I thought “English” but not Normandy. Sigh. Clever. How good to read you again!


  2. Karen S. says:

    Wow, what an interesting post this was. There was a time I was so afraid to even try writing poetry!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Kathe W. says:

    very fun! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. tigerbrite says:

    Very good Viv- I enjoyed your explanation also. I am interested how languages evolve. Here in this part of Spain (North Costa Blanca) the local people speak Valenciano, this language evolved from French/Catalan with the reconquest from the Moors in the 1200s . As Christian forces swept South land was taken by the nobility from Catalonia. Depopulation followed because of abandonment of the mountain farms in this area which had been worked by the Moors. When they were deported Christian camposinos (peasant workers) were brought here from the Balearic Islands, they had their own particular dialect which accent survives still.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. restlessjo says:

    I’d never heard of Normaund! But I have now 🙂
    This seems to have sneaked into Show My Face, Viv, but that might just be me?


  6. I loved it Viv. In Texan “French” and “think” are at least 1/2 rhymes unless it is spoken in the Texas patois that purely rhymes think and bank…or as Merle Haggard sings, “take all the money in the bank, I’ll just sit here ‘n dr(i)nk …hear “drank”. Ha. I know no live is idyllic, but yours seems that way to a Texas girl!


  7. wolfsrosebud says:

    … and we thought black was black and white was white… simple form… not really


  8. And in la Bretagne. Isn’t it funny how patois can disrupt the flow of communication. Is it a bit like Gaelic? That’s how I remember it in Brittany.


  9. Yes .. that’s the part I didn’t really like either .. but it was more or less quoted.. but the point is really that to turn something quite ordinary into something exquisite.. you will make it more difficult for your reader.. so maybe one should rephrase is slightly to say . that it turns more difficult to read if you cannot opt an easy way by for instance name a chair a chair.. I think you made a very good point in fighting for a language that need all it’s support.


  10. Mary says:

    Viv, I am with you in not enjoying incomprehensible poetry. It takes the joy out of reading when one cannot understand & have the feeling that the poet is being purposely unclear. I don’t know anything about the French language, but I enjoyed your Tanka.


  11. My grandmother was French/Spanish aka Cajun.. and i always loved the native language of France.. as her exchange student that lived with here was French as well.. and of the native tongue…

    There is a natural zest for the color of life in French.. and even in written language one can tell emotion to as it flows so freely in Arabic languages of past.. but it is more mechanical leaning per angles.. circles and squares in the western English way….

    But as usual i ‘digress’ a ‘little’ bit…

    But there is always inspiration to gain.. from words that come from souls of others…:)


  12. claudia says:

    did he really say that poetry has to be difficult to read…? ugh… honestly.. i want poetry to touch me… and if i need to think about 5 hours of what a poem could mean, it turns me off… ha…
    i think it’s cool to bring some foreign words into a poem… we have local poets here that rhyme in our local dialect which is called allemanisch…smiles

    Liked by 1 person

  13. kaykuala h says:

    Sometimes there may be occasions to be a little cheeky with tourists! Nicely Viv!



  14. I love this kind of fascinating fact.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sabio Lantz says:

    Fun form to show us linguistic cross-cultural insights.

    I created a diagram to show the evolution of English — showing the influence of Norman French (not the French we first think of). See here.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. MarinaSofia says:

    Ha, I love this! And it’s true that a lot of legal/formal terminology in English comes directly from those pesky Norman conquerors…

    Liked by 1 person

  17. opsimathpoet says:

    oooh Viv! Love this – I must talk to you some time about normaund, I am fascinated by language – just wish I was getting my head round French more easily. I have been doing a course in Poetry School on Geffrey Hill’s Mercian Hymns. He is notoriously difficult but with a good tutor, Holly Hopkins, I have found the unfolding of meaning in his sparse and meticulous prose has been very helpful to my own writing, have a lovely day XXX


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