The London 2012 Olympics: Recycling Au français (Sacré bleu)

Bradley Wiggins and his ding dong!

Bradley Wiggins rings Olympic Bell London 2012 © Hello Magazine

This recent series of short posts about the way the English and French languages interweave ends on a high. A triumphant high!

To those not overcome by the occasion or celebratory plonk the fact much of the opening ceremony was repeated in French would not have gone unnoticed.  The reason for this is simple. A Frenchman, Baron Pierre de Coubertin, Founded The IOC (International Olympic Committee) in 1894.  The charter drawn up in 1908 reflected this provenance and determined that the French would be the organisations principal language.

The Games of the II Olympiad organisations retains French as its mother tongue, but also uses English as a second official language and dependent on location the language of the host nation.  If history had not given us enough of a bond the Olympics and London 2012’s hosting makes the link an inextricable one.

My intention was to focus on a recap of my recent post framing the great English Tour de France win by Bradley Wiggins in the context of the Olympic cycling events. The events of last week in France facilitated my post by allowing the use of expressions such as “Tour De Force” and “Force Majeure” (literally a superior force, but more precisely an unexpected and disruptive event that may operate to excuse a party from a contract). And with Bradley Wiggins “Le Gentleman”, Chris Froome and Mark Cavendish competing today in The 250km Men’s Road Race we could end see more attempts at hyperbole being explored in the newspapers and on the TV News Channels. Or otherwise a post-mortem on why the Peloton ( meaning little ball or platoon and closely related to the English word pellet) tactics failed

The BBC coverage of the opening Ceremony however captured the cycling context , and excitement surrounding it, with its introduction of Bradley Wiggins who was chosen to ring the highly symbolic Olympic Bell.

The reporter stirred by the selection proclaimed “Sacré bleu it’s Wiggo”” 

Now this phrase is usually regarded by English speakers as a harmless exclamation of shock and surprise. Since as archetypical French it can be used in comedic situations. Though its origins are a lot more pointed and profane. Beyond a term of astonishment it is still used in French as a curse and a swear word. Perhaps the BBC should be equally cautious about using this word in broadcasts as like “egregious” our view of its strength could be changing.

The street focused Urban Dictionary  puts it in clearer relief saying the sentence refers to “Christ’s mother, Mary, often depicted in art in blue dress. The subversive tone is derived from the question of Mary’s immaculate conception (i.e. her birth) and her ability to accept the Holy Spirit and birth Jesus without having ever mensturated.

BBC Sport ….ooh la la!!