Sunday, 26 September 2010

So there are still linguistic mysteries in this world

Friday was the European day of languages. It was also the day that I saw this sign as we stopped for coffee in the middle of the glorious and wild Isère. It was pointing to the public toilets ...I had no idea at all what it meant but sensed that it did not mean what it seems to mean - literally "Room without bags - or room out of (your) bags".
Anyway thanks to wiktionaire this particular hole in my linguistic ignorance seems to be filled. "hors sac" is for post that didn't go in the postal bags but had to travel separately. Sort of by allusion (tho' I don't really get this if I'm honest) Hors sacs canalso be the place where walkers and shepherds can find shelter and unpack their bags in safety from the elements. Evidently the public toilets served this purpose in the wild mountainous area we drank coffee, they did seem to be a more permanent structure than next door snack bar, which was nevertheless doing a roaring trade in "frites".
Anyway perhaps I have got it all wrong and hors sacs mean something comepletely different. Do let me know.


Gerald Machabert said...

Tu as raison, une salle hors-sac est un lieu où marcheurs ou pèlerins par exemple peuvent sortir leur casse-croute et se mettre à l'abri pour le manger. Ces salles hors-sacs s'opposent en fait à des lieux - comme les restaurants - où il seraient particulièrement mal-venu de sortir son repas plutôt que de le commander sur place.
Quant à l'origine énigmatique de cette expression, je m'en remet au wiktionnaire… comme toi je n'en ai aucune idée.
Bonnes vacancess à tous les deux.

Jane said...

Merci Gérald pour ce complément d'informations - les premiers jours des vacances sont déjà extras!