the origin of French "en vouloir"

Encolpius

Senior Member
Hungarian
Hello, I have learnt recently that "en vouloir" [to want some of it] actually means "to be angry with sb". I find it an interesting construction. Do you know what the origin of that phrase is? Do other Romance language use a similar phrase? Thanks.
 
  • Sardokan1.0

    Senior Member
    Sardu / Italianu
    Hello, I have learnt recently that "en vouloir" [to want some of it] actually means "to be angry with sb". I find it an interesting construction. Do you know what the origin of that phrase is? Do other Romance language use a similar phrase? Thanks.

    Sardinian language uses the same construction for verbs, while in Italian they are inverted. The meaning obviously it's different, in both in Italian and Sardinian it doesn't mean "to be angry with sb", but there is a similar thing in Italian : "averla con/contro qualcuno" ("to be angry with sb"), derived from "habere + illa".


    While the construction with French "en" derives from Latin "inde" (which means "from there, of that"), evolved in Sardinian as " 'nde", and in Italian as "ne". Moreover Sardinian language beside " 'nde" to introduce this particular kind of verbs, uses also "che" (derived from Latin "hicce = from there").


    (fr) en vouloir
    (it) volerne
    (sc) 'nde quérrere

    Other similar constructions

    (it) andarsene
    (it) uscirsene
    (it) farsene
    (it) accorgersene
    (it) pentirsene

    (fr) s'en aller
    (fr) s'en sortir
    (fr) s'en faire
    (fr) s'en avviser
    (fr) s'en repentir

    (sc) si ch'andare
    (sc) si 'nd'essire / si ch'essire
    (sc) si 'nde faghere
    (sc) si 'nd'abbizare
    (sc) si 'nd'impudare
     
    Last edited:

    Zareza

    Senior Member
    Romanian
    en vouloir à

    When used with a person, en vouloir à means "to be mad at (someone)" or "to hold a grudge against (someone)."

    Tu m'en veux ? Are you mad at me?

    Less commonly, en vouloir à can be used with a thing, to mean "to want, to be after (that thing)."

    Il en veut à notre argent. He's after our money.
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Yes, it is interesting the phrase exists in Italian.
    But my question is: Why does "en vouloir" mean what it means. It makes no sense for me. "to want of it to somebody" :confused: It think it must be a shorter form of a longer expression.
     

    Swatters

    Member
    French - Belgium, some Wallo-Picard
    Those type of lexicalised "en+verb" where the verb doesn't usually take a locative complement usually are the frozen remnant of an expression with a partitive direct object.

    For vouloir, modern French has "vouloir du mal à quelqu'un" (wish harm on someone) which doesn't quite fit the semantics of "lui en vouloir" anymore but explains the structure suite well. The expression started as "voloir mal à" in old French, gained the pronoun "en" when partitive articles developed, then split with the NP version keeping its original meaning while the pronominal version shifted from ill-will toward resentment and blame.

    "En vouloir" can still mean harbouring ill-will toward someone in modern French litterature, especially from the 19th century
     

    symposium

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    I need to correct Sardokan: in Italian we do say "volerne a qualcuno" meaning "to be angry at someone". I'm sure it's a calque from French, and although a bit formal and out-fadhioned, it's not unheard of.
     

    Zec

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    It's interesting that something quite similar exists in my local dialect, which has no direct Romance influence whatsoever. Is there a similar expression in German maybe?
     

    Penyafort

    Senior Member
    Catalan (Catalonia), Spanish (Spain)
    In Catalan it's as in Italian:

    voler mal (or ) a algú = Literally, to want/wish evil/harm (or good) to somebody
    Per què li vols mal? Què t'ha fet?
    Related as it is, it rather means "to wish something bad to happen to someone", not exactly "being mad at him". Yet in loose contexts one could understand it as being angry with too.
     

    Zec

    Senior Member
    Croatian
    Hello Zec, what is the Croatian phrase?
    "On me će", literally "He wants me", in the sense of "He's angry at me". It's not quite identical to the French phrase, except that the verb "to want" is used to express "be angry at". Younger people no longer use or understand it.
     
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