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Quignon or crouton: what do you call the end of bread?
bakery |Posted by Anne-Cécile Chautard on November 22, 2019
Crouton, chignon, crotchon or croustet … The end of a piece of bread has not finished dividing the French. FRENCH LANGUAGE – If you are looking for an argument or debate topic (but not too much) for your Christmas dinners, you have clicked on the right link! Rather than arguing with your guests about Emmanuel […]
Crouton, chignon, crotchon or croustet … The end of a piece of bread has not finished dividing the French.
FRENCH LANGUAGE – If you are looking for an argument or debate topic (but not too much) for your Christmas dinners, you have clicked on the right link! Rather than arguing with your guests about Emmanuel Macron’s policy, ask them how they call the end of a piece of bread. You will certainly have some surprises.
The linguist Mathieu Avanzi has precisely studied these linguistic variations around bread. “We did not have data to know how it was said in the dialects before,” says HuffPost who is also a lecturer in French linguistics at the Sorbonne University. “We first started studying these appellations in French-speaking Switzerland and the Rhône-Alpes region and we discovered a lot of variations. We decided to extend our research to the whole of France. “
The linguist subsequently launched two surveys in 2017 and 2018 to document these bread names and the results were surprising to say the least. “We had proposed some variations in our first survey, but people have suggested so many other names that we did not know we had to start again to have an even broader perspective.”
A marked North / South divide
Mathieu Avanzi has collected about 15,000 testimonies throughout France and from people of all ages. The results have been transcribed in a map on which the cleavage is particularly marked between northern France, adept of “crouton” and southern, which uses mainly the word “quignon” to designate the end of his baguette. Between these two zones, crougnon is acclaimed. This blended word is as well composed of crouton as of quignon. A peculiarity found in the Croissant region, a strip of about 300 kilometers, between Charente and Allier.
In this linguistic transition zone, two languages are mixed: the langue d’oc and langue d’oïl, which could explain the difficulty of making a choice between crouton and quignon. Other appellations of the end of a piece of bread exist like the croustet used along the Spanish border, or the cul of the bread in the North of France. With its many linguistic variations, the subject of bread is even more divisive than the eternal debate chocolate / chocolate bread debate.
Guess the origin of someone simply with the words
Like bread, some words can be used to guess the origin of the person to whom one is addressing. This is called schibboleths (and it pays a lot of scrabble points). “Each region has its list of regionalisms that allow us linguists to guess your origin in just a few questions,” says Mathieu Avanzi, whose cards are passionate about Twitter. The use of intensifiers (which will accentuate the meaning of a word) is the best example. If you find Dimitri Payet “tarpin fort”, you will certainly come from the region of Marseille, while the wine “gavé bon” will refer to your Bordeaux origins. And if you say that your pancake is “vlà bonne”, it will certainly betray your Breton roots …
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