“Whoreson Villepin”

Vincent Pinte, commenting at Technologies du Langage, suggests that the “de” between the “Dominique” and the “Villepin” that denominate France’s deranged and disastrous prime minister need not necessarily evidence noble origins. Apparently–I certainly wouldn’t know–medieval prostitutes customarily used only one name, their first, and were subsequently assigned surnames on the basis of their location, eg Patricia de la Clairière, thus obtaining their posh particule. (In Lear, Shakespeare has Kent say of the last letter in our alphabet “Thou whoreson zed! thou unnecessary letter!” It is unlikely that this will affect the chances of coming man–hurry up!–Nicolas Sarkozy.)

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