Monday, September 7, 2009

Call in the Bin

 
Cornwall, Ontario - Caline de Bine is an expression one hears in Quebec and Eastern Ontario, sort of like "Gosh Darn It" - if someone with a French-Canadian accent said "Call in the Bin" it would sound exactly the same. In Cornwall, this phrase is used in English, as well as some of the French-Canadian swear words, like 'tabernacle',  (the milder 'tabernouche' is only used in Cornwall French) and 'sacrifice'. These are only swear words in Cornwall and area English when used with a French intonation - with the English pronunciation they are innocuous. "Caline" can be used by itself for a euphemism for "Calice", as in  the song "Câline de blues" ('Darn blues') by Offenbach."Bine" as used here is just a rhyme word that softens the phrase even more, but bine or binne does mean "bean".  On Twelfth Night, or "Fete du Roi", celebrated twelve days after Christmas, sometimes a bean or a coin is baked into a cake and whoever get the piece of cake with the bean in it becomes the King or Queen of the party. People who have the family name Lefebvre can pick up the nickname "Beans" (binnez??) because "febvre" (smith, as in blacksmith) sounds like "fève" (bean).
Calice is a quite strong swear word, and should not be used casually. Most French-Canadian swear words use religious objects or persons, unlike French, or even Acadian. You could shout 'calice' in the street in Paris and people would just be puzzled! I wonder if this doesn't come from the Basque and Spanish habit of swearing using phrases involving doing certain bodily functions on holy object or persons. For centuries there were lots of Basque whalers who had established stations in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, even before Jacques Cartier's voyages, and they are supposed to have contributed some words to Canadian languages, like the word 'Iroquois'. It may have been that the full phrase was "I (censored) on the chalice!" and over the years it was modified into just the mention of the holy object.


7 comments:

  1. great play on words

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  2. You wrote: For centuries there were lots of Basque whalers who had established stations in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, even before Jacques Cartier's voyages, and they are supposed to have contributed some words to Canadian languages, like the word 'Iroquois'.

    This is what you can read in Le Petit Robert under Iroquois: Irocois, déformation d'un mot algonquin "vraies vipères".

    The people designated as Iroquois (which is pejorative) prefer to be known as Mohawk.

    Not sure where you got this idea that Iroquois is a Basque word. As far as I know, the Basque never sailed inland and never were in contact with either Algonquins or Mohawks!

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    1. Thank you for your comment - Iroquois actually refera to the six nation confederacy, of which the Mohawks are a member nation. Neither Mohawk or Iroquois is a word of Iroquois origin , and in their own language, the confederacy is called "Haudenosaunee" (People of the Long House) and Mohawks call their own nation "Kanien'kehá:ka" (The place of flint).
      The Basques were active in the St. Lawrence for quite some time and were in contact with both Algonquin and Haudenosaunee - a trade language developed called Algonquian-Basque Pidgen - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Algonquian%E2%80%93Basque_pidgin - 'snake people' is one proposed etymology, but the most widely accepted is that it is a Basque origin word. https://www.google.ca/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjv97yi68POAhUJmh4KHSqRDYQQFgghMAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ehu.eus%2Fojs%2Findex.php%2FASJU%2Farticle%2Fdownload%2F9275%2F8503&usg=AFQjCNHEvscKo_e6Ve75yn29_alPUiJeOg&sig2=IoL2w8Wn-SBJQOTp7Wt_Yg&bvm=bv.129422649,d.dmo

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  3. Thank you for your prompt reply Mr. Bellis. I did look at the maps that identify the range of the Basque whalers and the Iroquois-Mohawks and there does not seem to be any overlap. I have always viewed the Basques as fishermen and whale-hunters, people who came to Canada seasonally, never settled and never explored the interior. Thank you for the link to the article by P.Bakker. I note however that the author is careful in using the adjective Possible in the title of his paper, which implies that more evidence (i.e. archaeological) is needed to back this theory. There does seem to be agreement about the etymology of the word orignal (moose) as a Basque word! What is interesting about Canadian history is that there is always more we can learn or disagree about. Have a nice day, eh!

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  4. At the time of Jacques Cartier, there were Iroquoians living near Quebec City who were trading with the Basques. What happened to them later on is still debated. They might have joined the Haudenosaunee, who did travel in the St. Lawrence valley for trade, hunting and war at the time of Champlain, but they did live further inland. According to the Mohawk historian Darren Bonaparte, they did travel to the Atlantic coast on fishing expeditions frequently and their first encounters with Europeans were with Portuguese fishermen there.

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