Friday, 7 April 2017

Livr'Libre


The Livr'Libre box in Chédigny.
The Livr'Libre scheme has been going for a year in the Touraine and there are a couple of dozen book lending boxes dotted about in various villages. The idea is that if you have a book that you have read and now want to pass on you can put a Livr'Libre sticker on it and pop it in the lending box. Then someone else can come along and take your book to read. Probably they will put it back in the box in due course, or swap it for another of their own.

Livr'Libre means 'free book', in the sense of 'liberated', but I would be willing to bet there is a play on the alternative English meaning of 'free' (ie no cost) even though that sense doesn't exist in French for 'libre'. 'Free' in the sense of 'no cost' is 'gratuit' in French, but it would be terribly trendy to indicate you understood the English connotation too.

7 comments:

  1. I think it's "libre" because it's "libre service" ("serve yourself") and also because bookstore is "librairie". The Vélib' bicycles in Paris -- same principle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Of course! You are absolutely right.

      Delete
  2. Even though libre and gratuit are not synonyms, in the former, and in some instances, the notion of no cost is implied. Is there in English a word for gratuit other than free, as in free bonus gift?

    ReplyDelete
  3. The word you're looking for is "complimentary" — "avec mes/nos compliments" in French. Or "on the house" as an expression — "livres offerts"... but are they "offerts" — given away? They are borrowed, I think. There is also the expression "entrée libre" in French, but that doesn't mean entry is free, it means you don't have to ask permission before entering. "Un homme libre" doesn't have to ask anybody's permission. I don't think it's a good idea to tell English-speakers that "libre" in French means "gratuit" because it doesn't.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I didn't think I had told English readers that 'libre' means 'gratuit'. I thought I'd made it clear that they had two different meanings but that in English you would use 'free' for both. I think the books are often borrowed, but there is an understanding that if you want to you can keep them. The expectation then would be that you put another book in its place.

      Delete
    2. You and CHM were both pretty clear, and I didn't mean to imply that you weren't. Sorry.

      Delete
  4. Very rarely you might also see "gratis" in English, although it's simply lifted from Latin, sometimes in the phrase "free, gratis and for nothing", which would seem to cover all bases.

    And I don't think even the most nonchalant of existentialists would say an "acte gratuit" could be done without costs somewhere along the line......

    ReplyDelete