In pursuit of the hirsute

by Bernard O'Shea

Every now and then you come across a word that appeals to you for no particular reason – it could be the look, the sound, or the imagery that it conjures up. Probably all three. While perusing my five Romance language dictionaries I came across their words for “wig”. Wig is a word that isn’t used much nowadays, but you never know, one day you might need it. Recently I went to a Roaring Twenties festival (the 1920s) and lots of people were wearing fabulous wigs. So you should add these words to your repertoire.

  • A wig in French is une perruque,
  • in Portuguese it’s uma peruca,
  • in Spanish una peluca,
  • in Italian una parrucca,
  • and in Romanian it’s o perucă.

There, it’s easy! Now all you have to do is decide on the colour.

The word wig in English is an abbreviation of periwig, and English also has the word peruke, which was derived from the French perruque (the French must have set the trends in wig fashion in the 17th and 18th centuries).

So, to get you feeling bright and colourful, to make you feel happy and hirsute, I have incorporated some YouTube footage of a very lively French song with the word perruque in it. It is my favourite track off a compilation CD called Pop en Stock Vol 1, which I bought on my first trip to Paris as an adult. The CD came out in 1992 but it’s an “anthologie de la pop française des années 80s”.  The song is Edith Nylon, by a group called Edith Nylon, it’s about a bionic woman and of course a robotic nylon girl has to wear a wig.  I have pasted the lyrics (les paroles) underneath. I love the guitar riffs played by le mec (the guy) in the bright red pants and blue shoes. Give me Edith Nylon over Edith Piaf any day!

Je suis la femme bionique
artères antistatiques
perruque de Nylon
utérus en téflon
seins gonflés silicone
lèvres glacées de chrome
fémur d’acier trempé
trachée stérilisée

prothèse polystyrène
valvule de porcelaine
orbites moulés plastiques
100 % acrylique
crâne en os de corbeau
trompes modernes à pivot
vagin inoxydable
je suis interchangeable

Edith Nylon, Edith Nylon, Edith Nylon
c’est moi

Edith Nylon, Edith Nylon, Edith Nylon
c’est moi

If you want to discover or rediscover more French music from the 1980s this four-CD compilation would be a good starting point, and yes, it has Edith Nylon on it.

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