flic / poulet

DrD

Senior Member
England English
Hello all,

I am just curious to know, as I am currently translating a detective novel where both terms are used, is there any difference between 'flic' and 'poulet'? Is one more old-fashioned or more pejorative for example? Or are there any regional differences, such as one being used more in some areas of France and the other elsewhere?
 
  • Simaneon

    Member
    French
    I think "poulet" is a bit more slangish and familiar than "flic", but don't know if there is a major difference between them apart from this. I would tend to say no though.

    Edit:

    Actually when I think about it, maybe "poulet" is more pejorative as it is comparing a policeman to an animal.
     

    snarkhunter

    Senior Member
    French - France
    Hello,

    Basically, I would tend to believe "poulet" has become a bit old-fashioned, and "flic" has taken over, most of the time (along with "keuf", which is indeed the verlan spelling for "flic").

    Maybe "poulet" has also become more of a literary thing now, which incidentally tells it has become something standard: By the way, poulet, poulaga, poulaille may be considered synonyms and all are derived from 'chicken'.

    The Police also used to be called "La maison Poulaga" in French 'classical slang'! (cf novels by San-Antonio, Albert Simonin, etc)
     

    DrD

    Senior Member
    England English
    Now that's interesting, because it is actually a cop who says 'poulet' the first time this crops up in the novel. However, this particular cop does seem to use a lot of slang and he's not too bright and even a bit inappropriate sometimes, so maybe Simaneon's suggestion that poulet is a bit more slangy is right and perhaps, too, this is one of those times when he's being a bit inappropriate!

    Thanks Snarkhunter - I had a feeling it might be a bit more old-fashioned (I have noticed a couple of other things that this cop says that are a bit dated). And thanks for 'La maison Poulaga', I hadn't heard that before!
     

    baphen

    Member
    French - France
    Hello DrD,

    Flics
    and poulets both refer to the police (or to police officers, according to context) but they are different in that flics is not really pejorative but it is slang.
    Poulets sounds funnier, but it is rude and pejorative: of course, it is a comparison to an animal (a bird which cannot even fly properly and walks around in a ridiculous way!). By the way, you can certainly draw a parallel with the word pigs in English, also a slang nickname for cops.

    As a conclusion, a police officer would never say either but would feel less offended upon being called a flic (or keuf) than being called a poulet.

    I hope I have enlightened you,
     

    DrD

    Senior Member
    England English
    Thanks baphen, although 'flic' is used a lot in this book by both police officers and other characters and, in fact, I have seen/heard 'flic' being used by police officers in other detective novels and TV police dramas. I find it interesting that you think they wouldn't use this word - maybe it is a mistake on the part of the writers to have them say it... There is only one officer, so far, who has used the word 'poulet' and, as I said, he is a bit inappropriate at times and uses quite a lot of slang, so I think maybe that's deliberate.

    As for 'pig', that's a term that's definitely always offensive and always intended to be so in English. I think that, in some contexts, either 'flic' or 'poulet' could be translated as 'pig', where the word is clearly being used contemptuously in French, but I've never really thought of either of these words as being a direct equivalent.
     

    Micia93

    Senior Member
    France French
    Thanks baphen, although 'flic' is used a lot in this book by both police officers and other characters and, in fact, I have seen/heard 'flic' being used by police officers in other detective novels and TV police dramas. I find it interesting that you think they wouldn't use this word - maybe it is a mistake on the part of the writers to have them say it...

    No no, you're right! police officers use "flics" too, as you saw and heard it
     

    baphen

    Member
    French - France
    Thank you for these precisions, DrD.

    It is interesting because I can assure you that poulet is quite offensive but as most slang words in French, it depends on the speaker's tone and on the context. Poulets would not sound as bad in a conversation between friends or family members. I believe a police officer would use that word only when undercover to sound credible. Flics would be used between friends and family members as a shorter way of saying la police or les policiers, but would not sound as an insult on its own. When used in front of the police, it is rather inappropriate. However I can picture a police officer say flics more easily.

    As a conclusion, we can say that poulets is an insult (it is used to make fun of the police) while flics is just a bad (but less shocking) word to refer to the police or police officers.

    I hope this helps,
     

    Kecha

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    "Poulet" has a traceable and funny origin: during the Paris Commune, police headquarters were burnt down. The new headquarters were build on top of a former poultry market. That's how policemen were soon known as "chickens".

    "Flic" is more recent (20th century) and of uncertain origins (maybe from german flick).

    FYI Beverly Hills Cop is Le Flic de Beverly Hills
     

    Glockenblume

    Senior Member
    Deutsch (Hochdeutsch und "Frängisch")
    (maybe from german flick).
    I don't know German flick. Do you mean the verb flicken (which means repairing clothes etc.)?

    By the way, when I came to France, I learnt the word flic very soon, whereas it took me years to hear poulet in the sense of policier for the first time.
     
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    Micia93

    Senior Member
    France French
    By the way, when I came to France, I learnt the word flic very soon, whereas it took me years to hear poulet in eth sense of policier for the first time.

    Because "poulet" has become rather outdated now. You can hear it in some novels or films dating back to the 50s
     

    Kecha

    Senior Member
    French (France)
    Well German isn't my specialty, I read it meant "jeune homme, garçon" :confused:
    Another guess was from "flinke", frapper, or Fliege, ''mouche'' (apparently they were also known as mouche in French for a while).

    "Poulet" is old-fashioned, "flic" is still very much in use, and as said by others, even policemen themselves will use it so it is not too derogatory (although you might not want to call a flic a flic to his face to avoid trouble).

    I guess these days derogatory terms for policemen are along the lines of keufs and so on.
    See: http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_française#Vocabulaire
     

    janpol

    Senior Member
    France - français
    Il est exact que les policiers eux-mêmes ont adopté le mot "flic" mais pas le mot « poulet ». En fait, les mots utilisés correspondent à des époques. Le terme «hanvélo", utilisé par Queneau dans « Zazie dans le métro », date vraiment beaucoup maintenant. (mais peut-être s'agissait-il plutôt de gendarmes...) Les mots « cogne » et « condé" semblent avoir fait leur temps, eux aussi.
     

    LART01

    Senior Member
    French-France
    "pandores" est un peu vieillot, non? en tous cas, je ne l'ai jamais entendu autour de moi, juste lu ou vu au cinéma dans des livres ou des films des années trente

    Bonjour Micia
    Les années 30, tu y vas un peu fort!

    avant de héler une voiture de gendarmes. Les pandores marseillais se font une maligne joie de me conduire à l'aéroport en prenant tous les sens interdits. — (Marie de Gandt, Sous la plume. Petite exploration du pouvoir politique, Paris, Éditions Robert Laffont, 2013, p. 155)
     

    LART01

    Senior Member
    French-France
    Haha! je ne suis pas assez cultivée! :D
    Ceci dit, je ne trouve pas que cela fasse partie du langage courant :(

    Si tu recherches les pandores tu trouveras de nombreux articles de journaux qui utilisent ce terme.
    Les jeunes des cités marseillaises ( pas tous, évidemment) utilisent ce terme. Je l'ai entendu. Ils diront plus volontiers les keufs bien sur...
    J'ajouterais que jamais un gendarme ne s'appelera lui-même un pandore ou un flic. Trop de rigueur militaire et de haute estime de sa mission et de respect pour l'uniforme)
     

    Chimel

    Senior Member
    Français
    Si tu recherches les pandores tu trouveras de nombreux articles de journaux qui utilisent ce terme.
    Les jeunes des cités marseillaises ( pas tous, évidemment) utilisent ce terme. Je l'ai entendu. Ils diront plus volontiers les keufs bien sur...
    Oui, mais il faut voir si ce n'est pas un effet de style (volonté de dérision liée à l'emploi d'un terme désuet) ou l'un de ces synonymes seulement utilisés par des journalistes pour éviter des répétitions (genre "le locataire de l'Elysée" pour le président de la République). J'ai la même impression que Micia.

    Pour les jeunes des cités marseillaises, je ne sais pas, mais par ici je n'entends vraiment aucun jeune (ou même moins jeune) dire pandore dans la vie de tous les jours. Ne serait-ce pas un phénomène comparable à celui de bouffon? Un terme vieillot qui est revitalisé dans le langage de (certains) jeunes. Ce qui lui donne certes une vie nouvelle, mais qui confirme dans le même temps son caractère vieillot... (il redeviendra désuet dès que l'effet de mode sera passé).
     

    LART01

    Senior Member
    French-France
    "Le terme pandore, pour les gendarmes est un peu passé de mode" d'après wikipédia.
    De plus, je crois sincèrement que les jeunes des cités se fichent un peu de différencier les policiers des gendarmes !

    Au passage, je tombe sur ce lien intéressant sur l'argot et le jargon que les policiers utilisent entre eux :
    http://forcesdepolice.forumactif.com/t14-ptit-lexique-du-jargon-de-flic


    C'est pour ça que je différencie ce que je pense de ce que j'entends sur "le terrain"...;)
     

    DrD

    Senior Member
    England English
    Goodness, I've sparked off a real debate here. It was only a moment of idle curiosity! Again thanks for all your help and suggestions, and thanks for that link Kecha, it might come in handy at some point in this translation!

    We have quite a few slang terms in English for police officers, but 'cop' tends to be the fairly ubiquitous one, much like 'flic' in French. There is the full version 'copper', which is heard less now (and, from the point of view of being perhaps a little more old-fashioned, could work as a translation for 'poulet', if someone wanted an alternative - it doesn't have any particularly insulting connotations though - not these days anyway, although it can be said insultingly - it's all in the tone of voice). OED suggests the etymology for 'copper' may come from the slang verb 'to cop', meaning to arrest, so obviously 'a copper' is one who 'cops' people, so it's interesting that the noun has become 'cop' (and you are much more likely to hear 'nick', 'nab', 'pinch' for arrest these days).

    There's also 'rozzer', which I like, but it's regional and a bit old-fashioned (although maybe not in some areas of the UK and I think it might be undergoing something of a resurgence - it seems to me that I've heard it on TV a few times lately).

    'Bobby,' of course, but that seems to almost be an affectionate term these days, and 'peeler' which I think is just about obsolete now.

    'Pig' as I've mentioned further upthread is always an insult. To my mind it's quite vulgar - a bit like referring to women as 'bitches' or 'hos'. There is also the simple expedient of mispronouncing the word 'constable' (replace the 'o' and the 'a' with 'u' and you should get the idea ;))
     

    DrD

    Senior Member
    England English
    Hmm, yes, maybe you won't get the idea, it's a peculiarity of English pronunciation... Well, I shall just have to give in and be very vulgar. Anybody who is easily offended, please DO NOT READ THE NEXT SENTENCE. The idea is to make it sound like 'cunt stubble' (if you say the two words together the 't' at the end of the first word disappears).
     

    DrD

    Senior Member
    England English
    Perhaps silly of me to think I could get away without spelling that one out to non-native speakers! I'm not normally squeamish about swearing, but, well, that's a very bad word indeed and this is a public forum...
     

    DrD

    Senior Member
    England English
    And perhaps worth saying that although some people might think this is very clever, because, after all, you didn't say anything wrong, you only said constable, right? I wouldn't advise ever actually saying this to a British police officer. Admittedly police officers don't have a reputation for intellectual prowess, but I don't think any of them are that stupid :rolleyes:
     

    cecillian

    Senior Member
    Georgian
    Hi, about flic here I've heard Bic flics. Can flic has the meaning of a lighter? Firstly I thought it's flicker maybe,but heard that some say flame that with your bic flic. I mean can flic mean a lighter too?
    Here is a picture I found of a Bic flic or Bic lighter.
    Ps. I know about the meaning of flick my Bic.
    Thanks in advance.
     

    Michelvar

    Quasimodo
    French / France
    Hi, about flic here I've heard Bic flics. Can flic has the meaning of a lighter? Firstly I thought it's flicker maybe,but heard that some say flame that with your bic flic. I mean can flic mean a lighter too?
    Here is a picture I found of a Bic flic or Bic lighter.
    Ps. I know about the meaning of flick my Bic.
    Thanks in advance.
    Hi,

    if you have heard "flame that with your bic flic", what makes you think that "flic" was a French word?
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    Another 'disrespectful' way of saying it which might get you in trouble - a French law dating back to Napoleon makes it a misdemeanor to insult a cop - is 'guignol' (although 'la Cour de Cassation' ruled some time ago that calling them 'flics', 'flicards', or 'guignols' isn't an offense). It's like addressing a contrôleur in the Métro as "M. le Con (pause) trôleur". Reverse respect (sarcasm) [careful!]: "M. l'Agent des forces de l'ordre publique", "M. le Gardien de la paix". And, as also mentioned above, 'policier' and 'gendarme' aren't quite the same in France.
     

    cecillian

    Senior Member
    Georgian
    thank you but imagine this sentence "the waiters set the crepes aflame with Bic Flics pulled brusquely from their shirt pockets. Here it can't meant any thing but a lighter I think. yes?
     

    Kelly B

    Senior Member
    USA English
    Cecillian, yes, it means a lighter in English in your context, though I think it's used incorrectly - the company used the brand name Clic rather than flic, and the slogan used the spelling flick with a k. Given that plus Michelvar's response, I suspect you shouldn't use the word flic in a translation of your own sentence to French.
     

    Uncle Bob

    Senior Member
    British English
    One you forgot, DrD, is "bluebottle" usually shortened to "bottle", which is fairly dated (1950's,1960's?).

    (Explanation for those unfamiliar: they wear blue and buzz around where they are not wanted, just like houseflies/ bluebottles).
     

    cecillian

    Senior Member
    Georgian
    Well thank you. but I think it's the lighter it self or means with a flick of the lighter. This a a sentence from a book. And as you say Kelly B the brand I think must be BIC. SO the waiter took his lighter which was a Bic brand. I think I got it now?
    And do you mean by flick that whirling metal which we roll when we light the lighter, and then it's a pun whit flic MchelVar?
     

    Michelvar

    Quasimodo
    French / France
    It could be, yes, as on the picture you proposed as an example, there is miss liberty, with is a fine lady, and fine ladies are called "flics" according to Urban Dictionnary.

    But English being a very plastic language, it's well possible that "to flick" has become "to flic", and that lighters may be called "flics" because of that.
     

    ain'ttranslationfun?

    Senior Member
    US English
    Returning to DrD's OP 'flic/poulet': I believe Brits also say 'rozzers' and 'the filth'. In parts of Scotland it's pronounced (and spelled, in the 'Inspector Rebus' novels) 'pollis'. But yes, Doctor, I think 'flic(ard)s', like US 'pigs' (not used by those to whom the term refers), is the most commonly used term today, and 'poulet' is as outdated as (UK) 'bobby' and 'peeler'. PS, A while back, the humorous term 'oinkers' was also sometimes used in "the counter-culture". - @Michelvar, I, for one, have never heard "flic" usd to refer to "a fine lady", nor "a flic(k)" for a disposable lighter. And I don't think the 'k' would have been dropped from the verb "to flick" in any of its meanings. [Don't forget, a "couteau à cran d'arrrêt)" is called a "flick knife" as well as a "switchblade".]
     
    Last edited:

    DrD

    Senior Member
    England English
    One you forgot, DrD, is "bluebottle" usually shortened to "bottle", which is fairly dated (1950's,1960's?).

    (Explanation for those unfamiliar: they wear blue and buzz around where they are not wanted, just like houseflies/ bluebottles).
    Oh, yes, Uncle Bob, I had indeed forgotten that one. I'd say 50's/60's sounds about right - a little early for me, but I've certainly heard/read the term before.
     

    cecillian

    Senior Member
    Georgian
    It could be, yes, as on the picture you proposed as an example, there is miss liberty, with is a fine lady, and fine ladies are called "flics" according to Urban Dictionnary.

    But English being a very plastic language, it's well possible that "to flick" has become "to flic", and that lighters may be called "flics" because of that.

    Thanks Michelvar, one more question. So if I want to say it in simple English which word do you suggest to use as flic:
    1.The waiters set the crepes aflame with their Bic lighters.
    2.The waiters set the crepes aflame with the flick of their Bic lighter
    But here we come to another question Michelvar, why Flic here is written in upper case,let it be flick or flick. Bic is the brand so it must be in upper case but I have no idea about flic being witten in this way. So I think it can give us a clue. But what clue I do not know.:eek:
     
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