mur / muraille

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  • Ostaire

    Senior Member
    Français (France, Normandie)
    "Mur" = any wall you may think of, including some barriers ("sound barrier" = "mur du son").
    "Muraille" is never used for a house, even for a castle. It means something really huge and preferably very old and always made of stone, enclosing a stronghold, a town or a whole country. It is also sometimes used to describe a high cliff or a steep mountain slope.

    Example : "La Grande Muraille de Chine".
    On the other hand : "Le Mur de Berlin" (because the Berlin Wall was not that high, and was built in recent times)
     

    Splink

    Senior Member
    Anglais/English
    From Flaubert:

    "Le matin, par habitude, Félicité entrait dans la chambre de Virginie, et regardait les murailles."

    Now, that is definitely inside...

    http://www.cnrtl.fr/definition/muraille# seems to suggest that it is (was?) used to refer to a number of walls so that, in the above example, "mur" would have been used to refer to one wall, but "murs/murailles" could be used to refer to the set of walls...

    Is this literary? Unusual? Rare?
     

    Splink

    Senior Member
    Anglais/English
    And again, from Flaubert:

    "Il se tordait, le stréphopode, dans des convulsions atroces, si bien que le moteur mécanique étaitenfermée sa jambe frappait contre la muraille à la défoncer." Again, this is inside...
     

    Fred_C

    Senior Member
    Français
    "Mur" = any wall you may think of, including some barriers ("sound barrier" = "mur du son").
    "Muraille" is never used for a house, even for a castle. It means something really huge and preferably very old and always made of stone, enclosing a stronghold, a town or a whole country. It is also sometimes used to describe a high cliff or a steep mountain slope.

    Example : "La Grande Muraille de Chine".
    On the other hand : "Le Mur de Berlin" (because the Berlin Wall was not that high, and was built in recent times)
    Je suis d’accord avec cette explication, mais je pense que pour le mur de Berlin, il s’agissait d’un cas tangent.
    On aurait très bien pu dire «la muraille de Berlin», mais c’est le hasard qui a consacré l’usage avec «mur».
    En allemand, il existe deux mots qui présentent la même différence qu’en français, mais les Allemands ont choisi de dire «muraille de Berlin».
    En grec aussi.
     

    wildan1

    Moderando ma non troppo (French-English, CC Mod)
    English - USA
    Essentially, French has two words where English really has only one: wall.​ We need to distinguish the meanings with adjectives or other context.
     
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