The morning after: les cheveux du chien

Some idioms don’t translate. ‘Hair of the dog’ is one that springs to mind. Talking about ‘les cheveux du chien’ to a French speaker earns you nothing more than a shrug of the shoulders, I’ve learnt. They would take the phrase too literally to understand what you mean.

For a Briton, however, the sense is clear.

Yesterday I cooked roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes and all the trimmings for lunch. To accompany it, I served a very nice Bordeaux, a 2011 Château Haut Philippon.

I knew a hearty Sunday roast would be just what we needed after a night celebrating our friend Michael’s birthday on Saturday. (Happy birthday, Michael!) I hadn’t realised quite how badly my partner would need some help in getting over his hangover. He had to go back to bed and surfaced just minutes before lunch.

We have a French-speaking Swiss student staying with us at the moment who looked baffled by this behaviour. (The young don’t get hangovers, from what I remember.)

I tried explaining why we were having a hearty lunch and a bottle of wine. However, the original sense of the idiom – treating a bite from a rabid dog by placing hair from the dog against the wound – was lost on him.

‘Guérir le mal par le mal’ was the idiom he offered instead.

As a phrase it does the trick but, let’s be honest, it’s nowhere near as evocative.

This entry was published on Monday, 14 April 2014 at 07:04. It’s filed under Language and culture and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

2 thoughts on “The morning after: les cheveux du chien

  1. jenny webb on said:

    Guele de bois is quite evocative of the feeling I find-but why would I know? I will ask Fatna.
    The lunch sounds great and I will settle for no less! What was damon drinking? Jxx ps weather has been fab here for days-am v tanned!

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