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Rihanna defends la grammaire française used in new tattoo

August 13, 2010 | 11:13 am


Rihanna-tattoo-detail Rihanna expected people would call her out on the content of her new rebelle fleur neck tattoo, OK Magazine says. Indeed, Gawker did just that, pointing out that in French, the adjective typically follows the noun.

In a text message to her tattoo artist that was leaked to OK, the singer allegedly wrote, "rebelle fleur translates to rebel flower, NOT rebelious flower, its 2 nouns so in that case fleur does not HAVE to be first! Fyi, cuz they will ask." (Rihanna, incidentally, is from Barbados, where the official language is English, with a local variation known as Bajan.)

We have to say, despite RiRi's explanation, and unfortunately having been trained in Spanish instead of French, we're still confused -- though an in-house Ministry source explains that rebelle can ...

... be either noun or adjective, plus technicalities aside, it's a poetic expression, so the rules of grammar don't always apply.

But now Billy Idol's tune "Rebel Yell" -- in which the sometimes-noun "rebel" is definitely used as a not-very-poetic adjective, albeit in English, not French -- is stuck in our mind on "play" and won't go away. So thanks for that, tattoo watchers. Plus, if it were in fact Rihanna's intention to proclaim that she's both a rebel and a flower, perhaps a comma would have been in order? Maybe two tattoos? Or the words could have been stacked?

We like to think we would've gone big and invoked the edgy slash: rebelle / fleur.

Too bad we're not rebels. Or, you know, flowers.

French speakers, would you please weigh in, in comments?

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Top photo: Rihanna performs at Madison Square Garden in New York Thursday. Credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters

Bottom photo: A detail of her new "rebelle fleur" tattoo. Credit: Lucas Jackson / Reuters

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