I find the word toque useful in Scrabble (as is roque).

Toque is a French lawyer’s hat, though. It now refers to the lawyer’s ‘letterbox’ at court, which used to be a pigeonhole to put the hat in – similar to the German Gerichtsfach – did those once hold hats too? (Take this with a pinch of salt, as I don’t do French law).

La Toque

Here is a picture of toques.

I’ve been thinking of this after reading the Guardian’s recap of the series Spiral (Engrenages), and in particular the comments. The recap article specifically refers to the commenter auroreboréalis, who is very informative on the law. Here, for example, most recently, on whether Joséphine Karlsson could become a juge d’ìnstruction:

There are 4 different types of passerelles (access routes between professions/occupations) between the profession of avocat and juge d’instruction, depending on your situation, age, years of experience, previous studies etc. It’s all detailed here: Avocat, magistrat, huissier, notaire… les différentes passerelles entre les métiers du droit and here)….

The comments are an excellent aid to watching or rewatching the series.

On the art of not reading / Die Kunst des Nichtlesens

I haven’t got the TLS for this week yet, but one article is online: a review by Adrian Tarhourdin of a book by a French professor of literature and psychoanalyst on how to talk about books one has not read:

Pierre Bayard
Comment parler des livres que l’on n’a pas lus?
162pp. Minuit. 15euros. 978 2 7073 1982 1

Bayard finds three constraints shaming us: the need to read, the need to read something to the bitter end, and the need to read a book if we are to talk about it.

[Bayard] divides the works he mentions into four categories: “LI” indicates “livres inconnus” (books he is unfamiliar with); “LP” “livres parcourus” (books glanced at); “LE” “livres dont j’ai entendu parler” (books he has heard discussed) and “LO” “les livres que j’ai oubliés” (books he has read but forgotten). Ulysses, for example, falls into the category “LE”: he claims not to have read the novel, but he can place it within its literary context, knows that it is in a sense a reprise of the Odyssey, that it follows the ebb and flow of consciousness, and that it takes place in Dublin over the course of a single day. When teaching he makes frequent and unflinching references to Joyce.

Here’s a quote from Bayard himself:

“in order to . . . talk without shame about books we haven’t read, we should rid ourselves of the oppressive image of a flawless cultural grounding, transmitted and imposed [on us] by the family and by educational institutions, an image which we try all our lives in vain to match up to. For truth in the eyes of others matters less than being true to ourselves, and this truth is only accessible to those who liberate themselves from the constraining need to appear cultured, which both tyrannizes us and prevents us from being ourselves.”

Like Bayard at one point in the article, I am not sure how blatant one should be about ignorance. For instance, I once spent some time around a dinner table where another guest spent some time discussing how bad the Harry Potter novels (as it happens) are, but she hadn’t read any of them herself.

French law weblog / Blog auf Englisch über französisches Recht, subtitled French law in English, is a weblog started by Nicolas Jondet at Edinburgh University which describes itself as follows: provides news updates in English on recent developments in French Law, focusing on Intellectual Property, Technology and Medical Law but also on private/commercial real estate law. is a collaborative project which welcomes authors wishing to publish articles in English on any aspect of law originating from France or French-speaking countries.

(Via Inter Alia)

Sarkozy subtitles / Untertitel bei Sarkozy

I’m a bit late on this story of a freelance subtitle translator slipping a joke into the programme (accidentally?)


This was apparently an American freelance and the subtitles were seen in the USA on April 23:

Le 23 avril, un reportage du journal montre un discours de Nicolas Sarkozy. A un moment, le candidat UMP invite les Français à «s’unir à moi». Ce qui, traduit avec un brin de fantaisie en anglais, donne: «rally my inflated ego» («unissez-vous à mon ego surdimensionné»).

English reports here and here.

A top official with France 2 swiftly blamed the gag on American freelance journalists who play with the translations to amuse each other, including this one that managed to surface on television instead of their PC’s.

None of this explains how you can ‘fire’ or ‘sack’ a freelance.

Via Enig