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Gossip

Posted: Tue May 07, 2019 9:26 pm
by Bobinwales
I am reading The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Well, rephrasing that, I am attempting to read The Hunchback of Notre Dame, it is hard going in English, what it is like in French will remain a mystery.
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In one interminable chapter Dom Claude is visited by Gossip Coictier and Gossip Tourangeau. Not even the fount of all knowledge, Google, and enlighten me on the title "Gossip", does anyone have any ideas please?

Re: Gossip

Posted: Wed May 08, 2019 2:26 am
by Erik_Kowal
I remember also coming across this form of address in a 19th-century novel when I was a kid (I'm afraid I no longer recall what the novel was), but I did not understand it then and have only been reminded about it just now.

The American Heritage Dictionary lists the following definitions:

1. Rumor or talk of a personal, sensational, or intimate nature.
2. A person who habitually spreads intimate or private rumors or facts.
3. Trivial, chatty talk or writing.
4. A close friend or companion.
5. Chiefly British A godparent.

Oxford Dictionaries Online gives the following derivation:

Late Old English godsibb, ‘godfather, godmother, baptismal sponsor’, literally ‘a person related to one in God’, from god ‘God’ + sibb ‘a relative’ (see sib). In Middle English the sense was ‘a close friend, a person with whom one gossips’, hence ‘a person who gossips’, later (early 19th century) ‘idle talk’ (from the verb, which dates from the early 17th century).

So it looks as though the word once had rather elevated connotations which have now mostly devolved into ones that are a lot more down-to-earth. :D

Re: Gossip

Posted: Wed May 08, 2019 11:32 pm
by Phil White
The French reads "compère Tourangeau". "Compère" generally means something akin to "accomplice". In the same way that "partner in crime" is used colloquially to mean a "bosom buddy", I believe that "compère" carries a similar meaning. So the meaning 4 as given by Erik is there or thereabouts.

Having read Hugo neither in French nor in English, I can help you no further.

Re: Gossip

Posted: Thu May 09, 2019 10:09 pm
by Bobinwales
Many thanks both.

Re: Gossip

Posted: Fri May 10, 2019 6:57 am
by tony h
I remember Gossip as being used within living memory of my ancient relatives for a sponsor/godparent particularly when they were unmarried and lived in the same home.


from the OED

1. One who has contracted spiritual affinity with another by acting as a sponsor at a baptism.
a. In relation to the person baptized: A godfather or godmother; a sponsor. Now only archaic and dialect.
c. In relation to the parents: (One's) child's godfather or godmother. Obsolete.
d. In relation to one who acts as godfather or godmother on the same occasion: A fellow-sponsor.

Re: Gossip

Posted: Sat May 11, 2019 5:40 pm
by Bobinwales
Amazing. I only knew it as someone who spreads "news".