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#65872 - 04/17/02 05:08 AM femme de trent ans
johnjohn Offline

Registered: 07/05/00
Posts: 167
Loc: Australia
browsing through a dictionary of foreign words and phrases the other day - as you do - I came across this phrase , attributed to Balzac, meaning literally "a woman of 30", but defined as "a woman who has passed the age at which romantic affairs are easily enjoyed".

Does that mean she can't get affairs easily, or she can't enjoy them when she does get 'em? Or does it mean that her hypothetical paramour doesn't enjoy it? Does anyone know?

#65873 - 04/17/02 07:57 AM Re: femme de trent ans
maverick Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 09/15/00
Posts: 4757
she can't enjoy them when she does get 'em? Or does it mean that her hypothetical paramour doesn't enjoy it?

These possibilities both seem absurdly improbable, so by Sherlockian reduction I would go with the constraints of ease suggested by the other option!

#65874 - 04/17/02 08:02 AM Re: femme de trent ans
belMarduk Offline
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Registered: 09/28/00
Posts: 2891
I have never read Balzac so I may be talking through my hat here but in French Québec, when a woman reaches 30 she becomes a "vielle fille" an old girl.

In French the word fille does not only mean girl. It also means unmarried. When a woman is married she becomes une femme - a woman. The word wife is translated as femme in French.

This is an old expression that fell out of favour in the 70's when it became o.k. *not* to marry.

In my parent's generation (now in their 60's) and before, it was extremely rare for a woman past 30 to marry and she was generally called a vielle fille till the end of her days.

It was not considered an insult - just a name for a particular state of life.

Now, you wouldn't dare call a woman a vielle fille as you probably would get slugged. It morphed into an insulting term, usually meant to mean a woman is so difficult nobody would want to marry her (or if added with a wink, a nudge or wiggling eyebrows) it means the woman is gay.

Phewf, I'll take a breath now . Did ya manage to get all the way through that JJ?

P.S. JJ I don't really know you so I thought I'd add. I am French from Québec, Canada, and when I talk about French I only talk about this place. I really can't speak for the French from France since sometimes they have completely different terms/vocabularies.

#65875 - 04/17/02 08:02 AM Re: femme de trent ans
jmh Offline

Registered: 03/22/00
Posts: 1981
I dunno - ask Joan Collins or Liza Minnelli - they might be able to help (but the black eye might not be worth it).

[Darn, Bel beat me by a few seconds]

#65876 - 04/17/02 08:02 AM Re: femme de trent ans
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
well, 150 years ago, with out antibiotics, and birth control, and a host of other modern conveniences (hot and cold running water!) a woman of 30 could be old..

more common today, (at least in NY) is "a woman of a certain age" -- which is a mature woman.. how old? its not polite to ask a lady her age, but i think it safe to say, our WOW-- who has graceful grandmotherly look about her, is a woman of certain age-- she further betrays this when she speaks of being raised to use titles, Mr, Mrs, etc when speaking to adults.. (and in that matter, i to, though younger, am a grandmother, and share some of WoW's views..) how old am i? i am a woman of a certain age...

as for love affairs, a woman of certain age would never discuss her love life with a stranger.. what ever its state!--nor would a lady of any age!

my other obsession

#65877 - 04/17/02 11:25 PM Re: femme de trent ans
Capital Kiwi Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/13/00
Posts: 3146
Loc: Northamptonshire, England
Unless, of course, that lady of a certain age was also a lady of the night, Helen. One or two of them in NYC, as I recall!

The idiot also known as Capfka ...

#65878 - 04/18/02 10:12 AM Re: femme de trent ans
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
To cross threads, as an ancient euphemism "an unclaimed blessing."

#65879 - 04/18/02 11:03 AM Re: vielle fille
Wordwind Offline
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Registered: 09/30/01
Posts: 6296
Loc: Piedmont Region of Virginia, U...
Closest I can guess to this in English is: Old Maid.

Did anyone play this card game when young? The cards had sets of faces you traded during the game--and you hoped you wouldn't end up with the Old Maid, a single card that glared at you with warts all over her face?

Is there a card game in either Canada or France called "Vielle Fille"?

Card regards,

#65880 - 04/18/02 11:11 AM Re: vielle fille
Bean Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 1156
I played Old Maid with a special set of cards when I was little, though I suppose all you have to do is remove one card from a regular deck for the same effect. Since I'm an Anglo it was called "Old Maid" as you might expect!

#65881 - 04/18/02 11:12 AM Re: vielle fille
wwh Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 13858
Some of the very nices ladies I ever knew were technically "old maids". A pair of them lived next door to me, and I visited them often. One had a bit of money, the other had none and was a servant to the other. I was taught to call her "Auntie" and she read to me a lot, and taught me a lot. Life was even more cruel a hundred ;years ago than it is now.

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