Birds of a feather

Goodness, I'm posting on consecutive'll have spotted that I've carefully avoided promising a daily post; the discipline is something I admire and even aspire to, but then I hesitate to commit to it, and also perhaps I fear to overload the blogosphere...

However, I feel I should follow up on pintade, or guinea fowl, as I said I probably would. A friend of a friend mentioned that to find out more about a French word, one can go on and ask for a définition. This produces definitions from several different dictionaries. (I expect you are now mentally saying "no duh," but I'm still quite ignorant about many internet wonders). I did this for pintade and was gratified to learn my hunch was correct: the French word for guinea fowl does have a connection with the concept of paint, via Portuguese or Spanish pintar, to paint, and pintado, painted. And of course the bird does look as if someone took a paintbrush to it, as a quick google search for its photo will reveal.

A quick google search: yes, that is how we do everything now. And I can't help but wonder if it means that my kind of musing, questioning exploration of words is too old-fashioned for this universe of fast answers.

Among the French definitions of pintade I also found a wonderful note from Le Dictionnaire de L'académie française, saying that figuratively and familiarly, il se dit d'une Femme sotte et vaniteuse.  I don't know if this use of it to mean a foolish and vain woman is still current--more fluent French speakers will have to tell me that; but it reminds me of a wonderful Italian figurative expression taken from a different bird: pavoneggiarsi, to peacock oneself. (Peacock is pavone in Italian.) This is used more of men than of women, I believe (after all it's the peacock not the peahen that is the spectacular bird), and suggests overt self-display in the evening passegiata up and down the corso.

I sense an interesting potential for cultural analysis of whether preening self-display is more common in French women than French men, and, conversely, more a tendency of Italian men than Italian women!
In both countries, as the kind of person who can be bothered to read this blog will know already, appearances are supremely important. And as I have an appointment at the bank in forty-five minutes, I must go and prepare myself for the outside world. I will try and appear reasonably smart, but any such attempt will be sadly offset by my bleary eyes and red nose, as I'm suffering from a heavy cold.

Grumpy as this makes one feel, I can still rejoice at being here, especially as the weather is lovely again today, with a blue sky and sunshine. So I will sally forth--not a pintade, I hope, and I certainly won't pavoneggiarmi; if I could choose the bird I would like to be, it would be an English robin, perhaps? A female blackbird? Or perhaps I am more--in this blog at least--a magpie, stealing bright glistening things from here and there, and shoving them any old how into my nest, where they gleam incoherently among the prosaic twigs.