No snappy title about the Syrian cease-fire, but I’m glad that it’s happening

Lots of languages make nouns from verbs, but French makes them from verb phrases.

Think you’re having a crappy day? Be happy that your neighborhood doesn’t look like this. Picture source:

Exciting news from the Middle East: the cease-fire in Syria is mostly holding.  I wake up every day happy that I have food to eat and a job that I love–the people of Syria wake up happy that they’re still alive at all.  I hope that this keeps working.

  • le cessez-le-feu: cease-fire.
  • la trêve: truce.  Also a break, a let-up, or a rest, as in la trêve des confiseurs, the period around the end-of-year holidays when people bring treats to work.

Le cessez-le-feu is an interesting word, because it brings up the topic of nouns that come from verb phrases.  It’s quite common for nouns to be made from verbs.  For example, in English the verb imitate gives you imitation, create gives you creation, and so on.  It’s less common to see a noun that comes from an entire phrase.  You see these in French, though:

  • le cessez-le-feu: cease-fire.
  • le garde-à-vous: the position of attention (in the military).

There are lots of shorter ones, too:

  • le porte-parole: spokesperson.
  • le prête-nom: front man, figurehead.
  • le rendez-vous: appointment, date, meeting place.

Are they all masculine nouns?  I don’t know–I don’t have a very big sample size.  Why are some formed from the vous form of the verb, and others not?  I don’t know.  Input from native speakers would be much appreciated!

One thought on “No snappy title about the Syrian cease-fire, but I’m glad that it’s happening”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Curative Power of Medical Data

JCDL 2020 Workshop on Biomedical Natural Language Processing


Criminal Curiosities


Biomedical natural language processing

Mostly Mammoths

but other things that fascinate me, too


Adventures in natural history collections

Our French Oasis


ACL 2017

PC Chairs Blog

Abby Mullen

A site about history and life

EFL Notes

Random commentary on teaching English as a foreign language

Natural Language Processing

Université Paris-Centrale, Spring 2017

Speak Out in Spanish!

living and loving language




Exploring and venting about quantitative issues

%d bloggers like this: