Personnes qui parlent avec des cuirs

MelB

Senior Member
United States English
I’m reading Maupassant’s short story, “Pierrot,” and was wondering what the expression meant, “personnes qui parlent avec des cuirs,” from the opening part of the story.

«Madame Levèvre était une dame de campagne, une veuve, une de ces demi-paysannes à rubans et à chapeaux falbalas de ces personnes qui parlent avec des cuirs, prennent en public des airs grandioses, et cachent une âme de brute prétentieuse sous des dehors comique et chamarrés, comme elle dissimulent leurs grosses mains rouges sous des gants de soie écrue. »

I know «cuir» means leather. I thought maybe it meant something related to “harshness or toughness,” but the end of the sentence says that she hid a brute pretentiousness under an outside that was comic and richly colored [colorful]. So it doesn’t seem like «personnes qui parlent avec des cuirs » means that she spoke harshly.

Does anyone have an idea what it means?
 
  • DDT

    Senior Member
    Italy - Italian
    "faire des cuirs" means "to do howlers" when speaking...so that it's just Maupassant's eye blinking at a petite parvenue :D tralala

    DDT
     

    Gil

    Senior Member
    Français, Canada
    CUIR2, subst. masc.
    Défaut de prononciation qui consiste à lier les mots sans raison (plus particulièrement en faisant entendre un « s » pour un « t » à la fin d'un mot, et vice-versa). Faire des cuirs; s'exprimer sans cuirs; parler avec des cuirs.
    I would seem that :
    cuir :arrow: liaison fautive :arrow: erroneous liaison :arrow: sorte de perle :arrow: a kind of howler
     

    MelB

    Senior Member
    United States English
    Ok, it sounds like, "faire des cuirs" means to say funny things (do howlers). I'm not sure I understand the false liaison point, though. What is the liaison in "faire des cuirs"?

    Also, DDT, how do we get "parvenue" out of this? Isn't that a newly rich person? Madame Levèvre was a miser (and did have a servant) but I'm not sure she's rich or newly rich. Maybe it's that sentence fragment "prennent en public des airs grandioses et cachent une âme de brute prétentieuse sous des dehors . . ."
     

    Gil

    Senior Member
    Français, Canada
    A liaison is:
    Linguistics. Pronunciation of the usually silent final consonant of a word when followed by a word beginning with a vowel, especially in French.
    And a "cuir" is a wrong liaison that may sound ridiculous.
     

    MelB

    Senior Member
    United States English
    But there's only a liaison, if there's a word that begins with a vowel, and follows "cuirs." Then there'd be a liaison between the "s" in cuirs, and the vowel that begins the next word. How can one word, like "cuirs" in and of itself be a false liaison? That's what I don't undersand. Now normally, the "r" in cuir would be pronounced, even without a followup word requiring liaison. Here though "cuir" is plural, "cuirs," so I guess if there were a liaison, it would be with the "s" in "cuirs"?????

    For example, in the sentence, "Elle faisait des cuirs en français." With a liaison, the "s" in cuirs would be pronounced. ex. Elle faisat des cuirs en français. Why would pronouncing the "s" in French sound ridiculous in that case where the word "en" follows?
     

    DDT

    Senior Member
    Italy - Italian
    MelB said:
    Ok, it sounds like, "faire des cuirs" means to say funny things (do howlers). I'm not sure I understand the false liaison point, though. What is the liaison in "faire des cuirs"?

    Also, DDT, how do we get "parvenue" out of this? Isn't that a newly rich person? Madame Levèvre was a miser (and did have a servant) but I'm not sure she's rich or newly rich. Maybe it's that sentence fragment "prennent en public des airs grandioses et cachent une âme de brute prétentieuse sous des dehors . . ."
    Maupassant is very subtle...she pretends to be a lady tout en prennant "en public des airs grandioses"...the parvenue attitude looks even more ridiculous when incarnated by such "miser" people ;)

    DDT
     

    Gil

    Senior Member
    Français, Canada
    MelB said:
    For example, in the sentence, "Elle faisait des cuirs en français." With a liaison, the "s" in cuirs would be pronounced. ex. Elle faisat des cuirs en français. Why would pronouncing the "s" in French sound ridiculous in that case where the word "en" follows?
    "des personnes qui parlent avec des cuirs" means "persons who do erroneous and ridiculous liaisons when they speak"

    Example: Pronouncing "J'ai-t-été au marché" instead of "J'ai été au marché" would be called (I think) a "cuir".
     

    MelB

    Senior Member
    United States English
    Gil,

    I see. When DDT said, "faires des cuirs" meant to do "howlers," he didn't mean that Madame Levèvre said funny things. It's that her language was maybe provincial, in that her pronuncaition was "funny" because of the bad liaisons. And that would be consistent with someone newly rich, going out into society, but not being able to hide their humble/provincial background. Thank you. I got confused by his word, "howlers" and didn't read/understand clearly your earlier post on this. :)
     
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