Whether you’ve heard the term chien assis – literally sitting dog – or not, you probably don’t know its correct meaning. I didn’t until a couple of days ago although I thought I did. The windows in the photo below have always been referred to by the people I know as chiens assis, but I’ve never been able to fathom why.
It’s because they aren’t chiens assis at all – they are lucarnes à croupe or capucine. What we call dormer windows in English are lucarnes which comes from the Latin word for “light” and they all have different names in French. The chien assis which, it seems, is a word used in the Loire Valley, is actually quite rare and so far, I haven’t found any! Below is a photo from one of my very favourite dictionaries – Dicobat by Jean de Vigan – and it’s full of lots of wonderful definitions and sketches. You may wonder why I have such a dictionary but it’s because I do a lot of translations in the field of building.
So you can see in the photo above, second from the left, what the real chien assis looks like and it does sort of look resemble a sitting dog. The one of the left is a chien couché or lying down dog. It’s also called a lucarne rampante, meaning “creeping” or “crawling”. Below is an example in our street in Blois.
Most dormer windows are capucines, but we did find quite a few examples of “lucarne-fronton” on the more bourgeois houses in Blois.
In one of the little towns in Sologne called Mur-de-Sologne, I found examples of pignon and meunière dormer windows.
And this house, which we came across in a forest area in Sologne, has a lucarne rampante à jouées biaises which literally means a “crawling light with sloping reveals”. What a mouthful!
Now just in case you tried to click on the link to my competition post on the Top Ten Châteaux in the Loire Valley yesterday and it didn’t work, you can try again here. All comments welcome!
20 thoughts on “Friday’s French – chien assis”
I could dazzle my french teacher with this!“@AussieFrance: Friday’s French – chien assis. Did you say “sitting dog”? http://t.co/SgDg9fXQhm”
Wow! What a really useful post — I didn’t know any of those specific names for lucarnes. Now I’ll have to find a real chien assis! Dicobat is great isn’t it? We don’t own a copy, but our roofer does and he would use it sometimes when we didn’t understand something he wanted to communicate.
When you find one, post a photo on Facebook, then I’ll do a follow-up post with everyone’s photos. I was asked to translate Dicobat and was so sad when it didn’t work out for lack of funding. It would have been such a challenge.
A fascinating article which made me go out and check our lucarne. It’s a meuniere!
Hi, can you post a photo?
What a great dictionary! Now I know we’ve got a series of “jacobines”. 🙂 There were three existing on the front facade when we moved in and we added 5 more to match, 2 front and 3 rear.
It’s a wonderful dictionary. It comes in a mini version as well. I was asked to translate it and was so excited but unfortunately it turned out to be too expensive for the publishers which are a very small concern. Can you post a photo of your “jacobines”? I’d like to do a follow-up post.
RT @JoKarnaghan1: I could dazzle my french teacher with this!“@AussieFrance: Friday’s French – chien assis. Did you say “sitting dog”? h …
Jean Brookes liked this on Facebook.
I’ve got plenty of general pictures of the house showing the “lucarnes jacobines” like those in this album http://on.fb.me/13DV9sS – if you want a more detailed one of the windows I can take a closer shot, if you like.
That one’s perfect. What a beautiful house! where is it?
It’s our home here in Ancinnes, dept. 72 Sarthe – we’re on the Normandy border near Alençon. https://www.facebook.com/Bed.and.Breakfast.Normandy
Phil Graham liked this on Facebook.
Actually, on reflection should ours actually be classed as “meunières” like Jean’s, as the bays come below roof level?
An interesting post, And I thought a lucarne was just a lucarne! I’m not as observant as Tim (or Susan) but it will be really good to point out something to do with structures that he doesn’t already know.
Well, do let me know if you find an example of a chien assis!
Love the variations. Didn’t know there were so many names for lucarnes. It seems we have ‘jacobines’ 🙂
You’ll have to let me know if you find a real chien assis!