clopin-clopant, cahin-caha

Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by geve, Jun 8, 2006.

  1. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Hello forum,

    Ce que j'aime dans "clopin-clopant" et "cahin-caha", c'est que la sonorité des mots traduit la bancalité de la démarche...
    Alors, "hobbling" ne me satisfait qu'à moitié. Y a-t-il des expressions plus 'musicales' en anglais pour exprimer l'idée?

    What I like about "clopin-clopant" and "cahin-caha" is that you can actually hear the hobbling walk behind the words...
    So I'm not really satisfied with "hobbling". Are there any similar expressions in English that would be more 'musical'?

    clopin-clopant loc.adv. En boitant, en tirant la jambe
    cahin-caha fam. (gén. avec un verbe de mouvement) Péniblement, tant bien que mal

    Merci ! :)
     
  2. polaire Senior Member

    English, United States
    Could you give some more context for this use of onomatopoeia (onomatopeé)?
     
  3. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    They are not onomatopoeia - but locutions adverbiales that mean that you go hobbling, you struggle along (literally or figuratively) :)

    Here are samples of sentences:

    Et je m'en vais clopin-clopant
    Dans le soleil et dans le vent
    (Pierre Dudan, Clopin-clopant, 1947)

    Un fiacre allait, trottinant,
    Cahin, caha,
    Hu, dia, hop là !
    Un fiacre allait, trottinant,
    Jaune, avec un cocher blanc.
    (Xanrof, Le Fiacre, 1888)


    Edit: thank you for the suggestions! So can they be used in sentences, ie. I was walking all clippety-cloppety?
     
  4. polaire Senior Member

    English, United States
    I didn't see them in the WR dictionary, and my dictionary didn't give a clear definition of cahin-caha. Since you wanted the "sound" . . . .
     
  5. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Yes, absolutely! They are adverbs but the way they sound conveys the idea too... so an onomatopoeia might do the trick!
    I have just edited my above post: would it be possible to use your suggestions in whole sentences, and how?
     
  6. polaire Senior Member

    English, United States
    No! :eek:

    It's my fault; :) I was on the wrong track because I didn't understand what the adverbs meant. "Clip-clop" is the sound a horse's hooves make when trotting across a stone road. "Clippety-Cloppety" is a variation, but it sounds kind of corny.

    Galumphing" and "Lumbering"?

    Both are used for a kind of awkward, ungainly walk. "Galumphing" is the more unusual of the two.

    You can look them up in www.onelook.com if you like.
     
  7. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    One, two! One, two! And through and through
    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
    He left it dead, and with its head
    He went galumphing back.


    I just love these lines from Lewis Carrol's Jabberwocky.
     
  8. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    pleeease? :p

    Ok, I'll keep galumphing then. I read that it's "a Blend of galloping and triumphantly; a nonce word in Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky" (wiki) Funny it should come to mean "move around heavily and clumsily" :confused:

    I'll still hope for a "hobbling sounding" word though... Is there something with "hop" maybe?
     
  9. polaire Senior Member

    English, United States
  10. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Mais oui ! En plus, je l'ai lu tout récemment... Je n'avais pas fait le lien :rolleyes:

    Not at all! Actually, "Hobble-dy-gee, hobble-dy-gee" sounds nice...
     
  11. polaire Senior Member

    English, United States
    Moi aussi. :)

    The Hunting of the Snark isn't as good, but it has its moments.
     
  12. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    Hobbly-wobbly?
     
  13. polaire Senior Member

    English, United States
    :idea: Hobble, wobble, teeter, limp, stagger, stumble.
     
  14. polaire Senior Member

    English, United States
    I thought of that one, too. I didn't see that many examples on Google. I'm still not quite sure of what Geve means to say.
     
  15. Agnès E.

    Agnès E. Senior Member

    France
    France, French
    Bonjour Polaire,
    Here is a definition of clopin-clopant by TLFi (literary examples removed for easier reading):
    Definition of cahin-caha from the same source:

    (small hint to search in the TLFi: always search with one word only. The search engine will propose all components. ;) )
     
  16. polaire Senior Member

    English, United States
    Thank you, Agnès E. :)
     
  17. zam

    zam Senior Member

    England
    England -french (mother tongue) & english
    I think that what you’re looking for is called an ‘ideophonic’ construction, or even more pompously, in this case, an ‘ideophonic adverb of manner’.


    So much for the waffly bit. Now onto your original question.
    I can’t find anything remotely convincing for ‘clopin-clopant’. Just as a possibly absurd afterthought :eek: , ‘clumpety-clump’ might satiate your curiosity (of course, not the same meaning strictly speaking).

    For ‘cahin-caha’ (as in ‘avancer cahin-caha’ for instance), might I try to pull the wool over your eyes with 'plod’ ? (sound made by a laborious, heavy step).
     
  18. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Merci beaucoup, zam, d'avoir mis un mot sur ma requête un peu cafouilleuse ! "ideophone", voilà un mot qui me plaît bien.

    You are right, I was wondering if there was something similar to these two expressions in English "sound-wise"... I was more interested in the sound symbolism, than the exact meaning. In this perspective, "hobbly-wobbly" and "clumpety-clump" sound very good :thumbsup:
    I'll remember "plod" as a good ideophone, but it doesn't have the same "repetitive" sound effect...

    En guise de merci, quelques mots bancals : Moi l'éclopée, clopin-clopant, je suis mon cap, cahin-caha, que de tracas à écoper, du tac au tac, j'attaque et pique, c'est la cata, cette prose épique ! :eek: :rolleyes: :D
    (Sorry, I can't 'alliterate' well in English)
     
  19. zam

    zam Senior Member

    England
    England -french (mother tongue) & english
    Voyons, voyons ma chère, ce n'est point une démarche adéquate pour une demoiselle de bonne société.
    Un peu de pratique et de tenue et tu pourras joindre mon club
    (seulement en tant que spectatrice bien entendu)
     
  20. la grive solitaire

    la grive solitaire Senior Member

    United States, English
    Hi geve,

    I read your original post a few days ago but couldn't come up with anything in English and wondered why. I think it may be because the onomatopoiea in English derives from the verb (at least in these expressions) rather than in a mimicking of the sounds. What do you think?
     
  21. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Hi la grive! :)

    In French, according to the TLFi (as quoted by Agnès) both locutions probably derives from nouns: clopin (which is outdated as a substantive meaning "gimp", but the verb clopiner (hobbling) is still used) and cahot (lurch) / cahoter
    If we go deeper in etymology we might find that it all comes from onomatopeias; but "clopin clopant" and "cahin caha" are not onomatopeias, but adverbs.

    I think what also makes them good ideophones in French is the fact that they're composed of two parts (I've opened a thread on this kind of locutions doubles in Français seulement) which sounds appropriate to describe someone's gait...
     

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