« Je donne mon avis non comme bon mais comme mien. » — Michel de Montaigne

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4 mars 2009

On the French invention of the blog

Classé dans : Histoire, Langue — Miklos @ 16:54

Short-sighted dictionaries, i.e., ones without a historical perspective, attribute the origin of blog to a 1999 abbreviation of Weblog. This ignores the French root of the word: it was actually coined by French soldiers during the 1812 Campaign of Moscow as documented in The Port Folio, vol. XIX (January-July 1825) in its report about the publication of L’Histoire de Napoleon et de la Grande Armée pendant l’Année 1812, par M. le Général Compte [sic] de Segur, as follows:

Of this species of vain boasting [the manner in which the French military were accustomed to talk of themselves] there is a very spirited and faithful description in the first volume. The soldiers themselves, though influenced by this ranting, were not uncon­scious of its absurdity, and gave it the name of blogue. To be under­stood by the French soldiery, and even by a great majority of the officers, it was necessary to adopt this species of blarney. Marshal Augereau was a perfect master in this detes­table style of decla­mation; which is directly the contrary of that simple and natural language made use of by English officers in their despatches or addresses to their soldiers. The secret of this blogue is for the orator to talk in unmeasured terms of praise of himself and his soldiers. The truth is, that this kind of wordy drumming is necessary to the French soldier, who would remain altogether unmoved by the plain-matter-of-fact address of an English general.

While the French may resent the anonymous reviewer’s opinion of themselves, they will no doubt be justly proud for being at the origin of this worldwide means of self-expression.

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