May 23, 2009

Feet fixed or together?

Talking about feet...

In this month's issue France Today magazine lists a number of typical Provence terms, and of course "pétanque" is one of them.
I'm so glad they use the term "feet fixed", as opposed to "feet together". Too many people think that your feet have to be glued together when you throw.

In 2006 I wrote a post on the forum about the topic:

"tanca" is an old Provençal term meaning "blocked" or "fixed". In todays' Catalan, closely related to Provençal, the verb "tancar" is still used in that sense and more generally as a term for "to close". Because when you "block" an entrance or "fix" a window, you prevent further use, and actually "close" it.
It evolved into French as "tanquer" ("-er" being the common ending for a verb), also as a reflexive verb "se tanquer" meaning "to get stuck", hence "to be stuck".
The idea of standing still (or "being stuck") when throwing a boule was quite revolutionary in 1907. For centuries folks had been running, jumping, you name it, when throwing boules. Imagine telling a javelin thrower today that there's no more run-up.

A lot of people still think that "tanca" means "together". No one cares how close together your feet are, as long as they're immobile, and - when it comes to formal competitions - fit in the regulation 50cm (20") diameter circle.

By the way, in the South of France, "tanqué" (the past participle of "tanquer") is also used to describe someone who is well built, as a compliment: "C'est une femme bien tanquée !".

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