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Friday 14 May 2021

The pleasure of the senses French homophonies

French homophonies

Author of the content

At the end of the 80s, at theAtelier des enfants of the Pompidou Center, Gaëlle Bernard and Max de Larminat, director and animator of the laboratory, set up a nice exhibition, a really funny curiosity for the many visitors of the great Parisian gallery. Instead of exposing enigmas in the traditional written form, the author arranged some sculpted, carved or painted objects, adding others, including letters, to obtain unusual results: a collection of rebus-objects made with the most disparate materials.

THEAtelier des enfants it was created with the aim of sensitizing the youngest to the most varied forms of creation and communication. It functioned as a workshop in which projects of all kinds were tested. In the case of "rébus-objets”By Larminat, the added letters, instead of appearing, as usually happens in this type of exercises, as elements of completion, made common play with the objects and carried on the discussion with their assembly.

The ordinary rebus exposes words and phrases through objects and added letters and in it there is rarely a relationship between the complex depicted and the phrases it hides: in the games ofworkshop, on the other hand, words and objects found themselves accomplices to tell the same story. It was a series of compositions, from which more or less “done” words or phrases were eradicated, while taking advantage of the enormous possibilities offered by the French language with its surprising homophonies. Thus, for example, a prismatic wooden object, for one section carved as a rigid meter and for another inlaid in the shape of a braid, mysteriously hid its title-solution:

mètre - tresse = maîtresse

And again: a miniature armchair, with a '3' "sitting" on it, made it possible to transform the "sculpture" into the phrase-title:

le siège de trois = le siège de Troie
Le siège de trois = the siège de Troie

le siège de trois = le siège de Troie

Other rebus objects were presented at the entrance of the room through an audiovisual montage made by the "Ateliers d'Arts plastiques de la Maison de la Culture de Loire Atlantique" and, since the exhibition occupied the usual spaces of theAtelier des enfants, the opportunity had also been taken to stimulate the interest of young visitors even more: they were invited to play with an electronic pen to answer easy questions, all related to the riddles object of the exhibition.

The novelty that intrigued visitors to the exhibition was mainly the way in which those funny oddities were proposed, those illustrated puns: a way so concrete as to create real "rebus-objects". Certainly the structure of the games on display was not new, even habitual for those familiar with the wonderful homophonies of the French language.

In fact, entire compositions of verses can be constructed in this language in such a way as to mean two distinct things, while retaining the same pronunciation. Louise de Vilmorin was also a very good poet in similar linguistic acrobatics, many of which were brought together in a very nice collection entitled The alphabet des aveux. These two stanzas of his present, for example, verse by verse, the same phonetic reading; the meaning is completely different.


Au long des mois
par the Savoie
six reines, alors riant.
L'une, saoule et nue
et tard, dares ces mots: «S'en va l'heure
Oh, l'onde et moi ",
speak sa voix
«Sirénes à l'Orient
Lune sous les nuées,
ta rose in ses maux
sans valeur! "

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