Between poison vert and fée verte: Some Remarks on the Words and the Speech of Absinthe
Keywords:lexicology, lexical variation, slang, absinth
Few drinks are as present in French culture as absinthe. This spirit, treated by some as a fée verte (‘green fairy’), accused by others of “making it mad and criminal”, has provided a motif widely exploited in literature, painting, song, and so on. The effects of this specific alcohol, its ritual, its sociality, the addiction it provoked were often addressed in the speech of the great French and world literature. The use of absinthe was widely popularized in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in all social circles. Consequently, the drink obtained in French several informal appellations, oscillating between the meliorative formulations like fée verte (‘green fairy’) and pejoratives, like poison vert (‘green poison’). In our article, we discuss the lexicon of absinthe, standard and non-standard, as well as the way different French authors have spoken about absinthe in their works.
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