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Old 03-02-2017, 02:22 AM   #1
AlexBell
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Still more help with French, please

I'm working on 'The Young Cosima' by Henry Handel Richardson, published in 1939 for the MobileRead library. As there are many unusual words in the text I want to set up Annotations to provide translations.

In Part 2 the text contains :'Pushing back the plumeau, he sat down on the side of her bed.' Google Translate gives only feather duster for plumeau, which makes no sense at all to me. Is there another French word which would fit better? Cosima was brought up in France, and she speaks French with her current husband Hans von Bulow.
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Old 03-02-2017, 02:35 AM   #2
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That's probably actually the correct word and not a typo/ocr error.

The entry in the Trésor de la langue française informatisé via Wiktionary gives a secondary definition of what amounts to a bouquet-like decoration assembled from feathers.

So if he has to move some kind of interior design or hat decoration ornament out of the way before he can sit, that would explain it.

ETA: oops, there's actually a 3rd definition which amounts to a duvet (the actual definition roughly translates to “eiderdown, feather coverlet”, and quotes an example sentence of “pillows behind the back, a coverlet over the feet, his/her balaclava on the head”) and that's probably it.

Last edited by ATDrake; 03-02-2017 at 02:40 AM.
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Old 03-02-2017, 02:41 AM   #3
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Not a French speaker but found this: plumeau

Any German connection with the character?
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Old 03-02-2017, 04:19 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by latepaul View Post
Not a French speaker but found this: plumeau

Any German connection with the character?
You might be on to something. According to the leading German dictionary plumeau is an archaic term for a duvet/comforter.
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Old 03-02-2017, 11:02 PM   #5
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Thanks so much to all of you. Duvet/comforter makes so much more sense.

And yes, latepaul, Hans von Bülow was German though he and his wife Cosima (later Cosima Wagner) spoke French together. And they lived in Germany.
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Old 03-03-2017, 12:03 PM   #6
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Hi Alex,

Late to the references party!

I agree with Doitsu. Indeed, according to Littré the term means (mot à mot): "cover in feathers". So when he is "pushing back the plumeau" he is pushing back a feathers blanket.

Ref: http://www.littre.org/definition/plumeau See def. # 5. The Littré is often a good French source for old words.
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Old 03-04-2017, 12:16 AM   #7
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Hi Alex,

Late to the references party!

I agree with Doitsu. Indeed, according to Littré the term means (mot à mot): "cover in feathers". So when he is "pushing back the plumeau" he is pushing back a feathers blanket.

Ref: http://www.littre.org/definition/plumeau See def. # 5. The Littré is often a good French source for old words.
Thanks for the reference. I have just enough French left from my stay in Canada to be able to use it.
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Old 03-05-2017, 11:40 AM   #8
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You're welcome Alex.
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