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1. Ferme ton gorlot!
• Gorlot is the Québec word for sleigh bell, a variant of the standard French grelot.
Ferme ton gorlot means ‘shut up!’ in Québec.
Literally it means ‘stop ringing your sleigh bell.’
This phrase is both acadienne and québécoise.
I can’t think of a better historical Canadian metaphor to enjoin silence than ‘ferme ton gorlot.’ Linguistically it’s pure laine ‘the real wool,’ ‘the true Quebec thing.’
Gorlot is a medieval, northern French metathesis of grelot ‘little bell,’ a Teutonic root that had entered continental French by 1392 CE. There is a reflex of the root in the not-very-common modern German verb grellen ‘to cry out in a shrill manner.’
2. Other Meanings of Gorlot
1. mauvais plaisant ‘a practical joker’
3. petite pomme de terre. Small potato. This is an Acadian usage marked obsolete in some Acadian wordlists.
4. testicule (testicle). This may be an Acadian euphemistic nursery usage for a little boy, where the loving mother refers to her son's ‘little bells’ or ‘little potatoes.’
3. Adjectival Uses
1. gorlot, gorlotte is an adjective meaning ‘drunk.’
être gorlot = être dans un état euphorique, ivre ‘drunk’
Is this drunk as a bell, ringing wildly, talking in a loose-lipped drunken manner? Perhaps.
2. être gorlot = être repu, ne plus avoir faim To be full, to be stuffed, ‘stuffed with potatoes’(?)
In current continental French, the verb grelotter may mean ‘to jingle and tinkle.’ La petite cloche grelotte.
Other uses include:
• Voilà, Maman grelotte de peur ‘I mean, look, Mom is shaking with fear.’
• Pierre a grelotté de fièvre. ‘Peter shivered with a fever.’
4. Ç’t’un méchant gorlot.
He lacks good judgment.
• Literally ‘it’s a bad sleigh bell.’ The sleigh bell does not ring properly. Something’s off-key here. This saying is current in Québec.
© 2012 copyright William Gordon Casselman
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