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 Post subject: the etymology of merde
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2001 3:45 pm 
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Joined: Fri Nov 17, 2000 12:01 am
Posts: 93
Location: new york city
hey,<BR>several people i know and i have been wondering for a while where the use of merde as a stage greeting comes from. <P>i tried searching here, and a little on the internet, but due to the...prevalence...of it as a word, i can't seem to find what i want.<P>and since you all are so smart...anyone know? =)<P>--ari


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 Post subject: Re: the etymology of merde
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2001 4:07 pm 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I will tell you how it was told to me. First of all I was told the word means "sh*t" in French. It came to be used as a "good luck" word to dancers about to perform. Much as we say "break a leg".<P>Its hoping the opposite will occur. I could be wrong - but that is how it was told to me.


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 Post subject: Re: the etymology of merde
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2001 5:36 pm 
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Joined: Sat Apr 29, 2000 11:01 pm
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Location: USA
True, true. To tell a dancer to "break a leg" is horrible. Hence, merde.


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 Post subject: Re: the etymology of merde
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2001 7:44 pm 
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Joined: Fri Feb 02, 2001 12:01 am
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Location: USA
I dont know where Merde came from in the dance world, but as the meaning of the word yes it means Sh*t in french.<P>Sincerly,<BR>Jan<P>------------------<BR>Teaching Today Touches Tomorrow!<BR>

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 Post subject: Re: the etymology of merde
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2001 9:51 pm 
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Location: ITALY
I live in Italy, and 'merda' there is definitely a swear word, so I can't see it as a friendly good luck wish, preferring the english "Break a leg".<P>This backfired on me once:<P>End-of-year shows time, and a colleague of mine from the big Milan school where we both taught invites me up to see her own school show at Varese.<P>I send up a bouquet with the simple message "Break a leg" attached, knowing that she is going to be dancing a Swan Lake pas de deux with a specially hired male Scala dancer at the end of the show.<P>You are no doubt way ahead of me here.<P>Get to the venue, and see another colleague who says, "Guess what's happened?".<P>Well, yes folks: she had broken her ankle, and was in plaster, couldn't do the pas de deux, and had herself drammatically carried onstage to take the applause right at the end. I later found the message which had been attached to my flowers on the ground outside the theatre, probably thrown there in pique and frustration.<P>Oops.


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 Post subject: Re: the etymology of merde
PostPosted: Fri Apr 06, 2001 9:58 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 22, 1999 11:01 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area
Oops, indeed, Red Shoes, but what do they use in Italy if not "merda?" I thought "merde" was universal. These days, I don't even use it; I just go with "have fun!"


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 Post subject: Re: the etymology of merde
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2001 5:33 am 
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Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2001 11:01 pm
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Location: France
LOL ! I would never have imagined this word was universal ! Yes, it means sh*t and French use it instead of "good luck" for fear of jinxing the one you are wishing good luck. Not systematically, but often concerning stage appearances, or exams for example (particularly oral ones). But even used in this meaning, it stays, hum, "informal". Don't tell it to someone you don't know - he could be, let's say "surprised" !


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 Post subject: Re: the etymology of merde
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2001 8:00 am 
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Location: ITALY
...carrying on from before:<P>they also say merda in Italy, but being frightfully genteel as a rule, tend to go for the other good luck phrase, which is standard for any situation, being -<P>"In bocca al lupo" (into the wolf's mouth).<P>To which the obligatory reply is,<P>"Crepa il lupo" (may the wolf die).<P>Please don't ask me the why's and wherefore's. I haven't a clue.<BR>


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 Post subject: Re: the etymology of merde
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2001 8:12 am 
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AlinWond, I meant "universal" in terms of in ballet world, all over the globe. Is that not correct?<P>Red Shoes, I thought "In bocca al lupo" was an opera term, also used in some other parts of Europe.


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 Post subject: Re: the etymology of merde
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2001 9:28 am 
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Location: San Diego, California, USA
I asked an Italian friend the other day what words Italians used to express frustration or exasperation - <P>she said they don't - they just throw things!! LOL - hopefully not the pasta.<P>I really always feel strange saying "merde" - so I usually don't....like Azlan I usually say something like..."have a great time".


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 Post subject: Re: the etymology of merde
PostPosted: Sat Apr 07, 2001 9:44 am 
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Location: SF Bay Area
Here's one from the movie "Opening Night," directed by the great John Cassavetes. A stagehand says to Gena Rowlands just before she goes back on stage for the next act in a play:<BR> <BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>I've seen lots of drunks in my life but I've never seen one as drunk as you and still able to walk. You are terrific.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE><P>Perhaps I can substitute "dance" for "walk"...<p>[This message has been edited by Azlan (edited April 07, 2001).]


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