Monday, March 01, 2010

Give until it hurts

Donnant - donnant. Giving - giving. Used in situations where we would use give and take. Or tit for tat.

I have to say that I find it very interesting that the French express that concept in such a generous and optimistic way. And I only say that because they usually admit to being a glass-half-empty kind of culture. Sometimes I wonder if there wasn't a corner that led to the turn that led to the place they are now, a turn that required the loss of optimism. A revolution or something along those lines. Anyone who knows more about French history than me (that would be most people) - please feel free to name that corner.

And I wouldn't say that it's a selfish culture either. The S word is tossed around quite a bit - solidarity - but more as an accompaniment to hand gestures and grand theories than anything else. The fact is that solidarity is legally required here every day from nearly everyone, so spontaneous gestures of generosity are no longer commonplace. Which is not, of course, to say that French people aren't generous. Oh why oh why do I write posts that require qualifications and reassurances?

Anyway, giving and giving. I don't know. It just sounds a bit off. Is it very American of me to want it to be giving and getting?


JMH said...

Quid pro quo, this for that. I guess there's a presumption of equal value. In tone, though, giving-giving sounds Eastern.

In my opinion, the expression doesn't make sense in the context of a capitalist system. It's antithetical to profit and loss (of which I am no strong supporter).

I'd like to use it. Is it pronounced "DOAN-on-DOAN-on?"

Nicole said...

It's pronounced [dɔnɑ̃ - dɔnɑ̃]. The tilda is supposed to be over the second vowel sound, which means it's nasalized. French syllabic stress is much more subtle than ours, there's slightly more stress on the second syllable. The word final n is not pronounced so it's something like 'duh-n...' the dots are because I can't think of anything similar sound in English - maybe like the start of a diphthong but with more nose. It's the same sound as the 'en' in en garde.