Posts Tagged ‘va-t’en’

Check out this movie title:

Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre

The expression used here is s’en aller en guerre, to go to war. Il s’en va means he goes, he’s going.

Why is there a t in there between va and en? How come it’s not Guibord s’en va en guerre instead here?

That t in the title is called un t euphonique; it’s there to provide a buffer between the vowel sound of va and that of en. In fact, you’re already familiar with this concept: it occurs in a-t-il…?, pense-t-elle, etc. Instead of a il…?, which is hard to say, a t gets inserted, for example: a-t-il vraiment dit ça?, and not a il vraiment dit ça?

A while ago, you saw how t’es un (you’re a) might get pronounced as t’es-t-un. That’s the t euphonique again. T’es-t-un chien. You’re a dog.

The funny thing about the t euphonique, though, is that sometimes it’s considered entirely correct and required (like in a-t-il…?), but other times it’s not, like in t’es-t-un. In t’es-t-un, the t euphonique is informal, but some people might consider it outright incorrect.

The movie title Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre is inspired by a song called Marlbrough s’en va-t-en guerre, which also uses the t euphonique.

You’ve seen before how the expression va-t’en! means go away! Don’t confuse the t in va-t’en! for the t in Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre. This t isn’t performing the same role each time.

s’en aller
il s’en va
Guibord s’en va en guerre
Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre
The underlined t here is the t euphonique, acting as a buffer between vowels.

s’en aller
tu t’en vas
The underlined t’ here comes from the reflexive verb s’en aller in its second-person singular imperative form. This explains why we write va-t’en!, and not va-t-en!

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