On 30 November 2011 05:45, Michael Wettstein <[log in to unmask]>wrote:

> My wife of almost 30 years is pied-noir and I spent 2 years in the French
> Midi and 12 years in Suisse romande, all of which have heavily influenced
> my French.  That could explain the difference in semantic perception, at
> least in part.  I did ask a French colleague (from central France), though,
>  how he perceived these words, and he understood them the same way I do.

Weird. I truly never heard of such a distinction.

>  May I surmise (and I realize I'm going out on a limb here) from your name
> that you're from Belgium or at least grew up in a Belgian family?  If so,
> is it possible those words are used slightly differently by Belgians?

You'd surmise wrong :) . This is my married name, and I am married to a
Dutch man. My birth name is Grandsire, which is a name that only occurs in
Normandy and Brittany. And indeed, I was born in Normandy (around Rouen, to
be exact) and grew up there, from a family that has always lived there, as
far as we know. I also lived for 4 years in Paris.

As far as I can remember, I've never noticed a semantic difference between
the various words you mentioned, only a difference of register. I've
definitely heard the words "congédier" and "licencier" used in cases where
the person was fired for fault, and "renvoyer" and "virer" in cases of lay
offs due to economical reasons.

> I definitely agree with the register difference, though, which might
> possibly provide an interesting explanation for the difference in perceived
> meaning.  With "congédier" and "licencier" both being formal (I sense
> "congédier" to be even more formal than "licencier"),

Agreed, that's my feeling too.

> they are, more than alternatives, likely to be used in "polite company",
> where one would also, I suspect, be more likely to stick to a more neutral
> connotation and tone, increasing the correlation with the less emotionally
> charged "to lay off".  In more familiar company, however, in which the less
> formal "renvoyer" and even more informal "virer" are more likely to be
> used, one might also feel freer to let one's hair down and spice up the
> discussion with more emotion and stronger judgment, thereby increasing the
> correlation with the emotionally stronger "to fire". What does this have to
> do with conlangs, some may ask :-) ?  Well, it seems to me that
> sociolinguistic considerations like the ones broached in the previous
> paragraph - even if they turn out to be totally bogus - would be important
> to conlangs, especially of the artlang variety, even more so if they were
> created for fictional settings complete with society, with which language
> weaves a complex but fascinating web.
To tell you how much I wasn't aware of the distinction, before this thread,
I used to think that "to lay off" was just a more formal version of "to
fire", without a semantic difference.
Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets.