For several years, I, Siganus K., have had only one friend. That was before I started blogging and having all sorts of imaginary friends. Once upon a time, this sole friend gave a book to our youngest child: Les Mots de Zaza. He also used to give bedtime readings every now and then, while visiting us. Everyone in the family started to love Zaza.
Zaza is a little mouse who loves to collect things, any things. But the things she loves collecting most are words, words, words. She keeps them under three bells: a small bell for cute little words, a medium bell for plain ordinary words, and a big bell for all the gros mots.
In the beginning she likes to hear the delicate sounds of the little bell. Then she is interested in the medium bell, which sings with a monotonous voice: “Papa, Maman, écriture, jambon, tricot, hiver, téléphone, phone, phone…”
But very soon she becomes a real Steve Dodson and she starts to love all the swear words.
Her parents are not always pleased with the passion their daughter is developing, but it’ll save their life.
It looks as if I have become a Zaza too. I have started collecting words. Today I found at least three of them: “sailler”, “platin” and “gratelle”. My wife and I were busy moving something that was partly under another thing and I said to her: “Il faut le sailler.” (This has nothing to do with any horse breeding whatsoever. It is just the word we sometimes use for “slide”, or “skid”.) We had to slide the first thing horizontally to be able to remove it. I just stopped and said to her: “Sailler, voilà encore un mot pour ma liste !”
So, like Zaza I now collect words. And like Zaza, I might like the gros mots too. Actually, I believe these are the words that have the strongest self-preservation instinct. Even if they are not used that often, they just don’t want to disappear. And since they are not written most of the time, they have very good reasons to be different from those used by faraway (French) people. So don’t be afraid if you see a lot of swear words. I am not (too) obsessed with them [à voir, à voir…]. It is just that, for the reasons mentioned above added to the fact that they were also borrowed from other languages sometimes, they are relatively well represented in the list of words differing from standard French.