Apr. 28th, 2006

sff_corgi_lj: (Anime - Sailormoon: Uranus)
The word for 'tuxedo' (as in 'black tie formal wear') in French, despite their loathing of loanwords and its completely unchanged spelling, is le or la 'smoking'.

Yes, 'smoking'. Just like in English.

They must have got it from the tuxedo's origins, a modification of the smoking jacket beloved of Victorian imagery, and named in the States after the district in New York where it was introduced to high society. It retains some of the styling of the smoking jacket still, in that notched lapels are Simply Not Done, for one. However, the French (being the French) have taken 'le smoking' one further to 'la smoking', by Yves Saint Laurent. A recently staged retrospective of Saint Laurent's tuxedo-based designs for women is iconised by Catherine Deneuve dressed in 'a smoking' and characterised by the elegant statement, 'The rapport de force between women and the masculine establishment was played out over the years like a game of chess,' explains Christophe Martin, the exhibition’s scenographer. 'Yves Saint Laurent transformed woman into a queen who, in her "smoking", dares to check the king.'

Now, the reason I found this all out was, believe it or not, Sailormoon. [livejournal.com profile] wickedtrue was able to send me the translated manga to read, and despite all the bits and pieces, fansites and essays I've read here and there, reading the whole thing in a piece was interesting. The one male regular character, Mamoru (Tuxedo Kamen/Mask), also has planet-guardian powers of a sort, but they are much more defensive and passive than those of the senshi, the 'pretty soldiers'. He has psychometry on a large scale - he can see things elsewhere as long as he puts a hand on the earth; he can Heal Light (how did you guess I used to play D&D?); and when he combines his strength with Sailormoon's, they become more powerful together than the sum of their parts. In fact, he's the essential element to more than one of her 'upgrades', despite his occasional protests of ineffectualness.

At one point, Tuxedo Kamen is desperate to join in a fight against their enemies and is coached by a benevolent internal voice to concentrate his energy in his hands and cast it from himself. His kiai for this becomes 'Tuxedo La Smoking Bomber!' Perplexed by this odd phrase, I, of course, Googled - and found a comment which mentioned it was a pun on the French word for tuxedo. Soooo... drop the other one - what French word for tuxedo? Back to Google, and hence to Yves and his 'smoking's.

The feminine article in the kiai is even somewhat appropriate, considering the female-centric series as a whole. And once the pun drops into place (wow, a Japanese pun using English and a French loanword - complex!), you see that his shout fits in with the pattern of the senshi attack phrases. (Another fan points out that a bomber is also a kind of jacket, although whether that part's still punny we'd have to ask Naoko-sensei.)

So now I know. And I learned some French, too.

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