Wednesday, April 25, 2018

gauche gesture... or more psy-ops?

I don't know what it is between French president Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump, but there seems to be an ongoing pissing contest between them. You may remember back to a year ago when Macron initially met Trump and, having prepared for the moment, out-wrestled the older man with a white-knuckled handshake meant to assert dominance. Trump, having a long memory for those moments when the size of his manhood is questioned, apparently struck back just the other day when Macron was in the Oval Office on an official state visit: right before a formal photo op, Trump reached over to Macron and made a show of brushing dandruff off the younger man's suit as a way of making him "impeccable" (the French rendering of what Trump said) for the cameras. French news outlets are reporting that Macron seemed a bit bothered or embarrassed by the gesture, and I suspect that that's exactly what Trump was going for. The gesture was rude, beyond gauche, but it had the odor of a calculated move designed to keep one's friendly adversary off-balance.

A toi, Manu!

AMUSING TRIVIA: the plural noun des pellicules is the French way to say "dandruff." This comes from the Latin pellicula, meaning "thin film." The French singular noun une pellicule refers to "a roll of film," as for a camera. notes that pellicula is a diminutive of pellis, which means "skin." In modern French, the word for "skin" is peau, which is an obvious descendant of pellis. Meanwhile, in Spanish, "a movie" is called una película because, at least until recently, movies were recorded on the medium of film. At a guess, the French word for "dandruff" relies on the idea that each flake of dandruff is thin and film-like. The French word for "flake," as it turns out, is flocon, and some French speakers refer to des flocons dans les cheveux, i.e., "flakes in the hair."


Charles said...

I saw video of the incident, and Macron appeared to handle it with aplomb. If he was bothered or embarrassed, he did not show it.

Kevin Kim said...

Yeah, it could be a media exaggeration. My post links to a French-language article that says Macron seemed "quelque peu gêné" ("somewhat discomfited/bothered") by the gesture, but the embedded video seems to confirm your assessment of the situation.

I couldn't believe that Trump actually said the word "dandruff." Maybe it was his own dandruff on Macron's shoulder.