Thursday, July 02, 2009

"Vive" (not "Viva") la France!

Le quatorze juillet is approaching. Many towns in America really go all-out for Bastille Day, which is heartwarming. Lately I've seen many ads touting some all-French event, with a heartfelt "Viva la France!" tacked at the end.

Folks, please humor me; I applaud your francophilia! But please -- s'il vous plait -- if you're celebrating France, the proper phrase is "Vive la France," not "Viva la France." Viva is a brand of paper towels. (Maybe it's also Italian or Spanish. Not my bailiwick.)


Don't worry. I understand the confusion. It's pronounced veev-uh, almost. But it's the subjunctive ("Long live France!"); and, apparently no one understands the subjunctive in any language any more except a handful of us die-hards. Happily, I am not going to bore you with a lengthy French verb conjugaison lesson right now. So unless you're a grammar junkie you'll just have to believe me.

It's Vive la France!

Merci.

30 comments:

Libby said...

"clap clap clap clap!"
- a diehard grammar junkie, in both English and French

AliThinks said...

Vive la France et les pommes de terre frites !

teasinglydiverse said...

I so completely love you for posting this :) That's one of my BIGGEST pet peeves (and yes, I guess that makes me a grammar nut!).

Who is Mary Blake? said...

And vive la compagnie.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

I just did a Google search. "Viva la France" had a depressing 128,000 hits! Fortunately the correct "Vive la France" scored 618,000 hits, so all's not lost.

And Vive les Vacances!

Isabelle said...

I say Vive Polly for being such a francophile :)

Starman said...

While I think they might have done a teensy-weensy bit of French language investigation, at least, they're trying and I must give them points for that.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Thanks, Isabelle -- you're so sweet!

As a friend pointed out, of course, there is "Viva Las Vegas," which is Spanish. And although there's an Eiffel Tower in Vegas, it's not France!

Dymphna said...

I have an aunt who has lived in France since the 1950's. We've kept up a correspondence for decades and I used to wish her a happy Bastille Day until I visited her in France a couple of years ago and she informed me that Bastille Day is not nearly the important holiday that Independence Day is in the States.

But, I have been seeing more about it here over the years, so I still hold out hope that it is celebrated *somewhere*!

Starman said...

@Dymphna I think it's mostly tourists and ex-pats who celebrate Bastille Day.

Kmuzu said...

Thank you for the correction. I took two semesters of French and it never took. I just wrote about Bastille day and almost made the tragic mistake of putting "Viva La France."

A Texan in West Virginia said...

For many years, a house of ill repute in Austin, Texas advertised itself with a large sign over the freeway that read, "Le Femme." Annoyed l'enfer out of me!

Gene said...

Murky buckets for pointing this out :-) My French is pretty limited, so I couldn't remember which was correct.

As noted, viva is Spanish, the command form of the verb vivir, to live.

Elvis Presley said...

Polly...it's really "Viva." I know.
Love,
Elvis.

Matt V said...

I think you mean to say only a few english speakers understand the subjunctive. other languages use it daily. also a simple google search could have told you that viva is spanish. no need to be haughty about it.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

Ah, Matt V., dear, anonymous Matt V.,

A "simple google search" of "viva la france" brings up (ta-da!)this post.

Haughty vs. tongue-in-cheek is a subtle difference.

Anyway, I posted this as a public service, for the Greater Good of Francophile humankind. Free of charge!

You're welcome.

Bonne annee,
Polly

Anonymous said...

This error can most likely be blamed on the fact that Spanish (the closest thing the US has to a second language) uses 'Viva'.

Mme Talula said...

Polly-Vous Français,
Bravo for the correction. It's a pet
peeve with me also, as is being sure
I spell names correctly. I appreciate
your site and can't wait to read your
book.
Felicitations et Bonne Année!
Mme. Talula

Mme Talula said...

Polly-Vous Français,
Bravo for the correction. It's a pet
peeve with me also, as is being sure
I spell names correctly. I appreciate
your site and can't wait to read your
book.
Felicitations et Bonne Année!
Mme. Talula

Anonymous said...

Thank you Polly for pointing this out. I found your blog by googling viva la France... I'm glad I caught my mistake by reading your blog.

:)

Anonymous said...

Viva is Italian and Spanish you dipshit. "Not your bailiwick" isn't an excuse for being stupid.

Polly-Vous Francais said...

OOh, and I love the love from "anonymous"!

What do you think, folks?

Carla said...

It is Vive-e-e-e-e la France !! Nothing else. Keep it that way PLEASE. Carla

Joan said...

Oh la la, quel malotru!

Margaret said...

Methinks someone missed the joke. I love your sense of humour, Polly, so please don't stop. You can pretend to be stupid all you want - I, for one, won't fall for it. ; )

brenda said...

Good contribution. Also in spanish (or Italian too) we use the expresion "Viva" the same way that in french "vive". For example in Mexico is traditional in our patriotic days celebration, the claim Viva México! that means the same than for you, long life México. It may be the confusion.

brenda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
brenda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Polly-Vous Francais said...

Thanks, Brenda. I inadvertently published your comment too many times -- my fault!

MC said...

Viva is Latin
Vive is French
same base, different subjunctive

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