Gallic Shrug

Teafrog

Senior Member
UK English (& rusty French…)
After reading this thread once more, I’ve just realised nobody from France has put a name to this quintessential French gesture, recognised (imo) throughout the English-speaking world (if not… the whole world?): The Gallic Shrug..

My Q is short and to the point: what is the exact term for it in french? :)
 
  • tilt

    Senior Member
    French French
    I finaly understood what you call the Gallic shrug on a site any French language learner should bookmark. ;)

    But I would say we don't have any exact term to name it! Surely because we don't need to. Why do you have one?
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    I'll just sum up what it is, in case some forer@s don't know the gesture: the gallic shrug consists in a shrug + a pout + the two hands downwards with palms open. [...]

    Le haussement d'épaule à la gauloise is the most concise suggestion I could come up with. Hopefully someone can do better than this!
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    As another english speaker, I can't say i've ever heard the phrase 'gallic shrug' used in my lifetime. 'Shrug' alone, yes, but with 'gallic', no...
    Interesting! I started a thread on the topic in the English Only forum, and it seemed pretty much granted for English speakers... It's even in the WRD.

    Even for "shrug" French doesn't have a handy term. :( Or maybe there is one that's escaping me?? The WRD says "haussement d'épaule"...
    George W. Bush, that most quintessential Frenchman...
    Well the gallic shrug is apparently viewed as typically French, but that doesn't mean that only the French are allowed to do it!
     

    Jean-claude Jacquittie

    Member
    UK, English
    I've just read your thread on the english forum, Geve, and yes I see what you mean it does seem very familiar to most! You did mention that perhaps it was used more frequently in America and the majority of your replies were from the USA, so maybe that's why I haven't heard it. Either that or i'm just a little uncultured!
     

    Punky Zoé

    Senior Member
    Pau
    France - français
    After reading this thread once more, I’ve just realised nobody from France has put a name to this quintessential French gesture, recognised (imo) throughout the English-speaking world (if not… the whole world?): The Gallic Shrug..

    My Q is short and to the point: what is the exact term for it in french? :)
    Eeuuhhh ... ! :confused:
     

    Teafrog

    Senior Member
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    I finaly understood what you call the Gallic shrug on a site any French language learner should bookmark.
    But I would say we don't have any exact term to name it! Surely because we don't need to. Why do you have one?
    I like the "finally understood…" :D; it looks as if Geve had the same revelation, judging from her reaction in her thread.. I already know the site you're referring to, and I must point out that the link provided for "the gallic shrug" is wrong, as it point to a gesture I would call "hold it right there, matey" (or words to that effect).
    I'm surprised you say "we don't need…(to have a word for it)". If you want to relate to a third party someone's reaction to, say, a business proposal you would like to put forward (I've just plucked this out of thin air…), what would you say? Would you have to describe the whole gesture?? Would you just say "il a hausser ses épaules", but that doesn't give the full flavour of this gesture. Have a look at this rather amusing entry in another forum discussing (in 1995!) exactly the same thing, it might give people an insight as to its impact.

    You call a carrot, err, "a carrot" because it's quicker than a lengthy description of the thing. We have such a description (e.g. a gallic shrug' because… "eeet saiz eeet oll, Monsieur"! 2 words are far better than a whole paragraph describing 'Le Shrug" ;) . I've seen it used in magazines as a headline, and the article had absolutely nothing to do with France! It's the feeling and a person's reaction to an idea or stimulus (and sometimes even a company, etc.) that this term now refers to. For some examples of this, have a look at these: 1 2 3 4 .
    No3 is from the Business Times, have a look at how they use the term in the 7th parag
    No4
    is taken from the House of Commons (UK Parliament) and is dated 5.48 pm- 16 Jan 2002 - Column 331. You can find the reference of 'gallic shrug' in the 4th parag ("…I suspect that that series of dots leads on to a gallic shrug"). If you want to be really amused, you will see the term "the cri de coeur " used in the 1st parag!
    You will note that no explanation whatsoever as to the meaning of the term is required in all example, because it is firmly embedded in the English language (are you still with us, Jean-Claude?). I can't speak for the USA nor Oz-Nz, although it would be interesting to have there take on this.

    Phew! (wipes off the sweat of his brows…) I could go on, but I'll rest my case here. I'm sure you guys have the idea. Wouldn't the French like to have their very own word / terminology?
    he he he…

    George W. Bush, that most quintessential Frenchman...
    :D yes, not the ideal example, I'll admit. > He's been 'caught in the act' as he is a well photographed public figure. Perhaps we should come over to France and photograph people in the street doing 'it'; I doubt if people would find it in the spirit of the 'entente cordiale' and would like that. But seriously, I think this picture says it all, and he's very very French

    …I started a thread on the topic in the English Only forum, and it seemed pretty much granted for English speakers... It's even in the WRD. …
    Well the gallic shrug is apparently viewed as typically French, but that doesn't mean that only the French are allowed to do it!
    Yes, it is so much taken for granted that it's in the dictionnary + see my (very lengthy - sorry guys!) blurb above ). It is indeed generally viewed as typically French, although the rest of the world is fast catching on (so beware, we're right behind you…:)) and some countries (Spain, for one) already use it extensively - I think…


    …You did mention that perhaps it was used more frequently in America and the majority of your replies were from the USA, so maybe that's why I haven't heard it. Either that or i'm just a little uncultured!
    I'm astounded: check any British dict, or google the term, or keep the above point in mind.
    This should help, although there is no mention of the arms, and he's very French as well :D
    Short and to the point :D
    How about "Le Bof"?
    If there is really nothing (I still can't believe it, though…) that the French say fot "it" (says he, happily pouring oil onto the fire) - I ran out of my alolocated "8-emoticons-per-post", otherwise I would have place a few big-grins here (you'll have to use your imagination). Now would be a good time to invent a word :rolleyes:. Pourquois pas?



    Oh, and yes, I can be succinct in my answers… … …

    you'll just have to wait until another post
     

    Randisi.

    Senior Member
    American English; USA
    In my experience, "Gallic shrug" would not be widely understood in AE. I could probably have no fingers and still accurately count the number of times I've heard it on my fingers. I've read it once or twice, but usually in the context of French cultural gestures.
     

    Teafrog

    Senior Member
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    In my experience, "Gallic shrug" would not be widely understood in AE. I could probably have no fingers and still accurately count the number of times I've heard it on my fingers. I've read it once or twice, but usually in the context of French cultural gestures.
    Thanks for this Randisi, that's very interesting. Is that for the whole of the USA, in your view?
    It could be that the Brits have, obviously, far easier access to France than the N. Americans, and thus be more able to notice, and adopt, some mannerisms and formulate national stereotypes. With this in mind, you guys might have some stereotypes of, say, Canadians or Mexicans that we have absolutely no knowledge of. Mhhh…
     

    Randisi.

    Senior Member
    American English; USA
    Hi, Teafrog.

    I can't really speak for the whole of the USA, but my guess it that yes, few Americans would be familiar with the phrase or even the gesture. Louisiana may be an exception due to the early French influence as well as areas bordering Quebec. I wonder if Quebeckers use the gesture?

    We may have a stereotype or two about Canadians, eh?
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Tu n'avais pas remarqué ce geste jusqu'à présent parce que tu n'avais pas de mots pour le décrire ! :D Tu ouvriras l'oeil, désormais... Hier encore, sous mes yeux ébahis, une jeune gauloise de deux ans a réalisé le gallic shrug très sérieusement, avec brio et à plusieurs reprises. Vraiment impressionnant. :p

    The more I think about it and the more I think we would translate it differently depending on the context and what is meant with "gallic shrug". It could be for instance:
    manifester/exprimer son impuissance
    hausser les épaules en signe de dénégation
    faire un geste de résignation/capitulation
    évacuer la question d'un haussement d'épaule boudeur
    exprimer son désarroi d'un haussement d'épaule
    ne témoigner que de l'indifférence
    accueillir (la nouvelle...) avec indifférence

    Yes, I know these are not substantives. :rolleyes: These suggestions are more for the cases where "gallic shrug" aims at describing a general attitude - they are not describing the gesture itself. I don't think we can find a concise expression that would express the combination of movements that form a gallic shrug.
     

    Punky Zoé

    Senior Member
    Pau
    France - français
    Et je n'en ai toujours pas (de mots :D). J'ignorais à quel point cette attitude était typiquement gauloise.

    But the number of interpretations you gave, shows how difficult it is naming that gesture! :eek:. Maybe something with gaulois(e) ? :confused: (haussement d'épaules is far too long ...)

    I just would had another meaning (perhaps the Henry's one to Pirès) "qu'est-ce que t'as foutu, branlé? Le but était tout fait !". ;)
     

    Teafrog

    Senior Member
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    … Hier encore, sous mes yeux ébahis, une jeune gauloise de deux ans a réalisé le gallic shrug très sérieusement, avec brio et à plusieurs reprises. Vraiment impressionnant. :p
    Trés rigolo. La prochaine fois, prends-là en photo. Je suis sûr qu'elle sera aussi bonne que Thierry Henri (le footballer). :D



    manifester/exprimer son impuissance
    hausser les épaules en signe de dénégation
    faire un geste de résignation/capitulation
    évacuer la question d'un haussement d'épaule boudeur
    exprimer son désarroi d'un haussement d'épaule
    ne témoigner que de l'indifférence
    accueillir (la nouvelle...) avec indifférence

    Yes, I know these are not substantives. :rolleyes: These suggestions are more for the cases where "gallic shrug" aims at describing a general attitude - they are not describing the gesture itself. I don't think we can find a concise expression that would express the combination of movements that form a gallic shrug.
    Thanks a lot Geve. These are very good descriptions of the feelings the gallic shrug 'embodies' (no pun intended :)). I particularly like "évacuer la question" (to bail out a Q?) :D
    So it seems that there is nothing in the rich French lingo to do credit to, and adequately and succinctly label, the 'gallic shrug'. Mmmmmmh (says he with some astonishment ;)).

    It looks as if it's time to ask the Académie Française to hatch something up…
    Who is going to write to them? :D

    … not me …
     

    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    Not surprised to hear that French people wouldn't know about or have a name for a cultural gesture that is just imbedded in their culture.

    As an AE speaker, I immediately understood Gallic shrug. But that's because I have experienced it, not because I have heard others say it often!

    A foreigner once pointed out to me the typical American head-hold (don't Google it, anyone; I just made up that term). It's the typical body posture many Americans will make when relaxing and listening to someone--back of head cradled by both hands with the arms spread wide on both sides. Never thought of it as a "typical" body pose until an outsider pointed that out to me as a way to spot an American!
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    So it seems that there is nothing in the rich French lingo to do credit to, and adequately and succinctly label, the 'gallic shrug'.
    Je propose une dernière suggestion, parce que je ne suis pas sûre que l'Académie française soit très intéressée par le sujet :
    la bof attitude - voilà qui devrait plaire à nos politiciens, entre "la positive attitude" et "la bravitude". :D
    (you did suggest "le bof", so I'm merely elaborating on your idea!)
     

    Teafrog

    Senior Member
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    Je propose …: la bof attitude - voilà qui devrait plaire à nos politiciens, entre "la positive attitude" et "la bravitude".
    Geve, très bonne idée, mais pourquoi as-tu mis cette 'phrase' à l'envers (‘à l’anglaise’)? C’a devrait être “L'attitude bof”, non? :confused:

    Bon alors, la bof attitude (ou bof'attitude) à ne pas confondre avec la beauf attitude, ou la beaufitude!!!
    "le beauf" comme "beau frère" > l'attitude du beau frère??

    Et je n'en ai toujours pas (de mots :D). J'ignorais à quel point cette attitude était typiquement gauloise.

    But the number of interpretations you gave, shows how difficult it is naming that gesture! :eek:. Maybe something with gaulois(e) ? (haussement d'épaules is far too long ...)
    Yes, I like that train of thought (j'aime ce train d'idées?). Pourquoi pas, simplement, “le geste gaulois” (gaulois étant l’adjectif).



    Tout comptes faits, je préfère “le geste gaulois” car cela rejoint (un tantinet) “the gallic shrug” qui est reconnu dans de très nombreuses régions du monde, apparemment. Le fait qu’il n’y ai pas de 'haussement d’épaule'-'shrug' ne me heurte pas trop les méninges (t’is a quick on-the-spur-of-the-moment type translation > doesn’t strike me as odd :rolleyes:). Je crois (à mon avis) que c’est le plus important des gestes français et en tant que tel pourrait être assez rapidement reconnu sans le descriptif 'haussement d’épaules').
    J’estime que “L'attitude bof”, même si trés descriptive, ne fait pas très sérieux (sérieuse?) et à l’air, à la rigeure, un peu enfantin… peut-être :eek:

    :arrow:Donc,que pensez vous tous du “geste gaulois”? :D

    Fin du sondage et de la question >> maintenant, votons :)


    Btw, I wasn’t sure how to spell “Tout comptes faits” (sing or plur). I know how to say it, but have can’t remember its proper spelling…
    J’ai vérifié dans le dico WR et ai trouvé des tonnes (bucketfuls ?) de discussion de forum avec le mot “compte”, mais j’ai fait choux blancs en ce qui concerne “tout comptes faits” (may have missed it…)
     

    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    I would think to an "insider" la bof attitude says more to the person hearing it if they are French. They know how to show it (which is the part the outsider like you or I would first notice), so the description of what is meant seems to me more important to the insider than the physical depiction.
     

    Teafrog

    Senior Member
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    I would think to an "insider" la bof attitude says more to the person hearing it if they are French. They know how to show it (which is the part the outsider like you or I would first notice), so the description of what is meant seems to me more important to the insider than the physical depiction.
    Oh, you have a good point. This time the tables are reversed and I hadn't been able to see it from a native's viewpoint. Well called Wildan1. So it's (almost) back the the drawing board: "La bof attitude" vs "le geste gaullois".

    Ideally, ee need some French opinion > I might tag this debate onto a thread in the French-only section and see what reaction the natives would have. However, it would mean having to explain once more what the gallic shrug is to the 'Gauls'. Here we are again, taking coals to Newcastle… :rolleyes:.

    At least it's been settled: there is no equivalent term (no term at all, in fact) to the 'gallic shrug' in the French language!
    Thanks everyone for your contributions :thumbsup:
     

    Agnès E.

    Senior Member
    France, French
    There is a very simple equivalent term (partly given in post #3), which is used whatever the context: hausser les épaules (we use verbs more frequently than nouns in French). Short, efficient, commonly used. The rest is pure chat. :D

    Using the trendy xxx attitude describes a general behaviour, a feature of someone's personality, not a gesture. It could therefore not fit in this situation.
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    There is a very simple equivalent term (partly given in post #3), which is used whatever the context: hausser les épaules (we use verbs more frequently than nouns in French). Short, efficient, commonly used. The rest is pure chat. :D

    Using the trendy xxx attitude describes a general behaviour, a feature of someone's personality, not a gesture. It could therefore not fit in this situation.
    C'est ton opinion et je la respecte, mais ça me semble un peu péremptoire comme réponse. Hausser les épaules est une description incomplète du geste (il manque la moue et le mouvement des mains - ça ne traduit que le classique "shrug" en fait) mais pourrait en effet convenir dans certains contextes, pour exprimer par exemple la réaction face à une nouvelle comme dans certains titres d'articles cités par Teafrog : Les Français accueillent la nouvelle législation sur le tabac d'un haussement d'épaule. (c'était d'ailleurs la teneur de mes propositions dans ce post)

    Mais quand "gallic shrug" désigne une attitude typiquement française (ce n'est pas pour rien qu'il y a le mot "gallic" dedans !!), je préfère "la bof attitude". Oui, c'est totalement subjectif et je l'assume. :D Des goûts et des couleurs... et la traduction n'est pas une science exacte. ;)
     

    Teafrog

    Senior Member
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    There is a very simple equivalent term (partly given in post #3), which is used whatever the context: hausser les épaules (we use verbs more frequently than nouns in French). Short, efficient, commonly used. The rest is pure chat. :D

    Using the trendy xxx attitude describes a general behaviour, a feature of someone's personality, not a gesture. It could therefore not fit in this situation.
    Thanks for your opinion and response Agnès. But with all due respect, 'hausser les épaules' is, as you say quite rightly only a 'short, efficient, common gesture' which is used worldwide > a simple, bog-standard, everyday simple shrug. Everyone shrugs, the world over, sure: tout le monde hausse les épaules, mais tout le monde ne fait pas le 'gallic shrug' by a long, long way, hence this debate.

    What we are talking about is something extremely well defined, at least in the UK (and in some parts of the world also, it appears), that uses the whole body and has a facial expression that a simple 'haussement des épaules' just doesn't convey.

    It is now abundantly clear that the French do not have a specific term for this. I have conceded as much. If you care to check all the threads that have been provided (photos, cartoons, newspaper clipping, etc.), you will notice that top-flight newspapers in the UK (can't speak for Australia/New Zealand nor USA/Canada) use the term, the British Parliament use it, the industry use it, everyone uses it (the term, not the gesture :D).

    I must stress that they don't just say "a shrug" (un haussement d'épaules), but "a gallic shrug’, which is viewed, on this side of the pond, as totally different. This is used in the press, as well as in everyday parlance, without the need of any further explanation whatsoever because it is so special and regarded as quintessentially French.

    The fact that the French do not have a term for this everyday (in France) gesture certainly doesn’t mean, in my humble opinion, that the views of others are “pure chat”, far from it (ok, some of it is, but surely we can let a bit of steam off, from time to time – a bit of banter doesn’t hurt anyone…).

    A large number of your compatriots were not even aware of this term! Were you? We have been using it for ages in every aspect of British life for decades (I even bet the Queen uses the term, and differentiates it from a ‘normal’ shrug’ ;)).

    I apologise if I have ruffled your feathers here, but it appears (I could be wrong there) that either you haven’t checked all links and other opinions thoroughly, or the penny still hasn’t dropped that it’s something unique, therefore not “a very simple equivalent term”.

    Geve, in post #14 has understood perfectly well that is is far more than just a "simple haussement des épaules"

    To recap: un haussement d’épaule = a shrug (as per the WR dict, and all the others), i.e. a basic shrug >>> nothing to do with a gallic shrug. This is why I raised this thread, as I was genuinely curious about the precise definition. Now I realise it simply does not exist.
     

    Teafrog

    Senior Member
    UK English (& rusty French…)
    At least it's been settled: there is no equivalent term (no term at all, in fact) to the 'gallic shrug' in the French language!
    Thanks everyone for your contributions :thumbsup:
    OK, this has been interesting to discuss...to a point.

    Sorry, Teafrog, but that last post has me tempted to give it...well, a Gallic shrug!

    (Comment dit-on en français beat a dead horse ?) ;)
    I couldn't agree more :thumbsup:. That's the reason I thanked everybody and signed off in post #21. The point had indeed been reached by P#20 (your post) in the form of the "Le bof attitude". I had come to the same 'flogging the ol' nag' conclusion. Speaking of conclusion, I had the impression that the general (tacit) consensus was that we were faced with 2 different gestures and only one 'definition' (for the 'standard version, since the 'new one' we had discussed was not 'official'). Seemed that everyone agreed until P#22, which, in my opinion, warranted a courteous and straightforward response via P#23. > It was not an attempt at resuscitating you-know-what. :rolleyes:

    The horse was well dead, as some people say, so what was the point of flogging it, hey? Thanks for spotting that. Oh, and the expression in French is……?

    I thought I had made obvious that I was signing the thread off and had accepted the result. 't was not obvious enough, obviously.

    So
    'Bye everyone, and thanks for all your contributions… again (with a friendly gallic shrug :))
     
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