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  #1  
Old 07-09-2001, 02:49 PM
Colin Trainer Colin Trainer is offline
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Why do we call the French frogs? One of my co-workers claims it's because they eat frogs, but other people are known frog eaters.
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  #2  
Old 07-09-2001, 07:01 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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Usually around 3:30 AM Eastern Daylight Time, our search engine is available for a limited time for just such questions. That is, assuming the gerbil has anything left to give.

So type in "french frog" or some such, and sit back and you will find thus:French =Frogs
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  #3  
Old 07-10-2001, 12:25 AM
kniz kniz is offline
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The people on Guernsey are called "Donkeys". I think they just have pet names for each other.
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Old 07-10-2001, 04:21 AM
Floater Floater is offline
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To begin with it's not frogs but frogeaters. This pejorative name was first used by the people at the court in Versailles about the ruffians from Paris, and for some reason the expression has crawled out of France and become a nickname for the nation as a whole.
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Old 07-10-2001, 05:08 AM
pluto pluto is offline
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It may have begun as "frogeater" but I've never heard anyone use that term. Only "frog". (And I've very seldom heard an American use the term, but lots of Brits. I think it's a regional rivalry thing.)
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  #6  
Old 07-10-2001, 09:19 AM
DVous Means DVous Means is offline
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Personally, I think the "french = frogs" thing has as much to do with alliteration as any other reason.
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  #7  
Old 07-10-2001, 12:09 PM
ElDestructo ElDestructo is offline
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I thought the term came from badly-rendered fleurs-de-lys on banners and flags carried by the French armies during the constant unpleasantness between the English and the French a few hundred years ago. Apparently, the limeys thought the fleurs-de-lys looked like frogs, and started calling the folks who marched under those banners "frogs".

Is this total crap? Where did I get this in my head? Anybody else ever heard it?
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  #8  
Old 07-10-2001, 12:33 PM
Swede Hollow Swede Hollow is offline
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Frogs = French came from their gastronomical tastes, not their flags. It was traditional to refer to groups by their food tastes. German = kraut, English = Roast Beef, and (IIRC) the Dutch were referred to as John Cheese which was pronounced by them like Yan Keys and the Dutch in New Holland (New York) later became Yankees.
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Old 07-10-2001, 06:54 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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::why do I bother?::

If you read the link which I supplied above to our previous discussion, you will see the definitive word, In My Humble Opinion{IMHO}, supplied by tomndebb who just about always is on the mark when it comes to factual information.

He said
Quote:
Evan Morris, author of The Word Detective does not even consider Brewer's tale worthy of direct acknowledgement. .... "frog" was a general-purpose insult that arose in the 1300s (he notes Dutch and Jesuits--mentioned in earlier posts--being so slandered) and was only settled upon the French during the Napoleanic era (with the frog-legs idea and the Paris coat-of-arms both tacked on as rationalizations).
Now, Evan Morris spends a lot more time on derivations of words or phrases than you or I. I doubt that he posts info which he makes up out of his head or that he "heard someone say." His site is one of the 5 or so most respected sources available on the internet for word/phrase derivation.

READ HIS EXPLANATION. If you can't follow a link, then here is his answer:
Quote:
Dear Word Detective: My father-in-law is 86 years old and would like to know why the French were called "frogs." He seems to recall that the English ate limes to prevent rickets and came to be known as "limeys," the Germans ate sauerkraut and became known as "krauts," but he doesn't know why the French were called "frogs." Can you help solve the mystery? -- Rsmbanks, via the internet.

Sure, but remind me not to stand next to your father-in-law in a bar. He sounds like the kind of guy who would start the kind of conversation that would require me to duck and run for the exit.

For as long as there have been nations, people have been dreaming up ways to insult the nations to which they do not belong. And it's not a coincidence that the three examples your father-in-law mentioned all focus on the culinary tastes of the nation to be insulted. As Hugh Rawson observes in his excellent book "Wicked Words" (Crown, 1989), "You are -- to your enemies especially -- what you eat."

"Frog" was indeed at one time a popular derogatory term for a French person, though it didn't start out quite that way. Originally (around 1330), "frog" was applied by Britons to almost any group they found objectionable, and was aimed at both Jesuits and the Dutch before it was decided in the late 18th century that the French, with whom England was then at war, were the real "frogs." The rationale for the term, to the extent one is ever really needed in such cases, was the French consumption of frogs' legs (anathema to the beef-loving British), as well as the presence of frogs on the coat of arms of the city of Paris. "Frog" is still used as an insult, especially in Britain, but many other once-popular anti-French coinages are rarely heard today, including "French pox" (syphilis), "French leave" (desertion from one's post in wartime), and simply "French" (foul language, as in the apologetic phrase "Pardon my French" offered after swearing).
So, here's what we have learned today:

l. "frog" was probably the original term applied to a group you didn't like. It dates to the 1300's.

2. The French probably got the term applied to them around the time the British and the French were at war in the late 18th/early 19th century. It possibly/probably referred to the French like of frog's legs and possibly/probably the "presence of frogs on the coat of arms of the city of Paris."

I apologize sincerely to posters who have added posts which correctly applied the above information.
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  #10  
Old 07-10-2001, 09:21 PM
Johnny Angel Johnny Angel is offline
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Swede Hollow wrote:

Quote:
the Dutch were referred to as John Cheese which was pronounced by them like Yan Keys and the Dutch in New Holland (New York) later became Yankees.
The story that appeared in one of my textbooks years ago said that Yankee came from an Indian chief's mispronunciation of English as Yengees.
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  #11  
Old 07-10-2001, 09:29 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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Dave Wilton, who writes a great word site, sums up the current theories about "yankee" here.

To summerize Dave, the best theory is that it is a diminuitive of "Jan." The next best theory is the "Jan Kaas/John Cheese" story.

All others suggested derivations come in way back in the pack.
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  #12  
Old 07-11-2001, 01:48 AM
Katisha Katisha is offline
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Another example is the French term les rosbifs to refer to the English. There's actually an extensive footnote on this subject in the Arden edition of Henry VI Part I (edited by Edward Burns...I think). I quote:

Quote:
The association of the English with beef, particularly in the context of a nationalistic assertion of masculinity and courage, is long-standing. The Elizabethan army received a ration, every seventh day, of two pounds of salt beef or two and a half pounds of fresh (Cruikshank, 80). Whether in this play, in Hogarth's eighteenth-century painting The Roast Beef of Old England or in the present-day (1999) journalistic response to continental worries about the dangers of British beef infected by BSE, beef is a marker of the line between England and France. The French term les rosbifs for the English is still at the time of writing just about current, though perhaps rather camp. 'Beef-witted' (Nashe, 1.370.18; TC 2.1.12) is not a compliment, even in English.
I love those Arden editions...
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