Monday, 25 February 2008

Word of the day - enquête

The splendid French circumflex ^ indicates an s has been removed for example côte which can mean coast. So enquête would give you enqueste or perhaps inquest. It often means inquiry and it's interesting that Enquete is the word the German parliament uses for its official parliamentary commissions of inquiry. The German Bundestag chooses the loan word from French rather than the German Untersuchung. Maybe enquete sounds slightly nobler and not so forensic, more open and philosophical and inquiring.
But I've chosen enquête for rather more religious reasons. To be en quête de sens (note the gap between the two words) would not be to be inquiring about meaning but to be questing for meaning. En quête means to be searching, to be journeying. Clergy and religious will sometimes in French refer to a person as being en quête - someone who is looking, searching, questing to find themselves, or God, or meaning or a purpose.
So être en quête is a bit like being on pilgrimmage, not just on the journey of Lent but the meaningful journey of life.