Perfect English, now available in French
May 13, 2005
I've always been puzzled by the use of the expression "ci-joint" (enclosed, as in "please find enclosed…") in French; does it need to agree with the noun it is linked to or not? Checking again today, I realised that I've seen it used in different ways because its use isn't fixed when it is in the middle of a sentence.
The general rule is:
It is invariable when it has an adverbial value :
- at the beginning of a sentence : ci-joint les factures… (please find enclosed the bills…)
- in the middle of a sentence, immediately followed by a noun : vous trouverez ci-joint factures…
It agrees with the noun when:
- it is placed straight after the noun and has the value of an attribute: les factures ci-jointes…
- it is an attribute of the subject : les factures sont ci-jointes…
In all other cases, it is up to the writer to decide whether it should agree or not. The Académie française website gives interesting examples of the stylistic choices made by famous French authors :
Bernanos : "Vous trouverez ci-joint les pages dactylographiées de mon roman" (Please find enclosed the typed pages of my novel) NO AGREEMENT
Hugo : "Je vous envoie ci-incluses des paroles prononcées ici par moi au moment de la proscription" (please find enclosed the words I pronounced during the ban) AGREEMENT
Musset : "Je prends la liberté de vous envoyer ci-jointes des rillettes" (Please find enclosed some rillettes, which I've taken the liberty to send you) AGREEMENT
I'm so glad to read this. Always thought it was just me - no matter how many times I checked whether it agreed I still wasn't sure...
Posted by Jean on May 13, 2005 4:03 PM
Uh, I mean -- that's extremely interesting!
Posted by language hat on May 15, 2005 1:58 AM
Oooh LH I've been craving rillettes since Friday; I might have to send a request to my mum for an emergency food parcel.
Posted by céline on May 16, 2005 9:32 AM
What are "rillettes" ? I have to know!
Posted by Jo on May 17, 2005 10:51 PM
Trust you to comment asking about food! You won't like rillettes, in fact you'll detest them my little veggie friend, they are made of meat cooked in obscene amounts of fat (no redemption there, it is also animal fat). They resemble pâté, but taste different. Better. Hmmmm... rillettes.
Posted by céline on May 18, 2005 9:36 AM
Bleurgghh... rillettes. Thanks, but "no thanks".
Posted by Tubster on May 19, 2005 9:07 PM
May 12, 2005
Ne'er cast a clout til May is out
May 16, 2005