Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures

Word Mystery: pickpocket / carterista / voleur à la tire

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She didn't follow this advice. You should.

She didn’t follow this advice. You should.

Every Wednesday, I explore the linguistic origins of one word in different languages I speak.

My mother got pickpocketed here in Paris last week which is unfortunate but unsurprising. In the past year, the number of such crimes has risen 11% and caused things like the docents of the Louvre to go on strike because they were sick of having to be mindful of the art as well as visitors’ personal belongings.

The experience meant that I had the opportunity to go to a French police station and to think about how, despite all the many things my mother’s taught me, urban safety wasn’t one of them. (That was all Hollywood, baby.)

As today’s Word Mystery involves lots of compound words, I’m just going to look at the parts that I find interesting (or else we’ll be here all day).

EN → pickpocket — a person who steals from other people’s pockets. ORIGIN pick [take hold of and remove] + pocket [a pouchlike compartment providing separate storage space]. Pocket from Anglo-Norman French poket(e), diminutive of poke [pouch].

ES → carteristaLadrón de carteras de bolsillo. [Thief of pocket wallets.] ORIGIN Person + wallet. Wallet : cartera, from carta [letter] from Greek χάρτης [inscribe].

FR →  voleur à la tirePersonne qui pratique le vol à la tire. [Person who practices theft by pulling.] ORIGIN Thief + pull, from verb voler from Latin voler [steal]. The French have adopted pickpocket as a loan word.

Spain wins today because my mother deserves to get something out of this and because I got to put some Greek characters on the blog.

Author: le cul en rows

I'm an American Spaniard, living in France. I like to tell stories.

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