Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Allez vous-en

Allez vous-en!

This phrase comes from Cole Porter's song of the same name from the musical Can Can, written in 1953. The 1960 film of the musical starred Shirley MacLaine, Frank Sinatra, Louis Jourdan, Maurice Chevalier and introduced Juliet Prowse. Can Can, bien sur, is the French dance with high kicking women in skimpy outfits that was often performed in the night clubs of 1890 Montmartre on the outskirts of Paris.

The curious Francophile wonders why -en is attached to the pronoun vous. Normally -en is used as an adverbial pronoun meaning "some," "any," or "one," but here it must mean something a little different. Cole Porter writes the phrase to mean "Go Away!"


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