Bocage – why do the French use this word?

By Baldmichael Theresoluteprotector’sson

4th October, 2022

Bocage country, Calvados department, France

If you haven’t been to Normandy in France, then you are unlikely to have heard the word bocage. I owned a part share once in a house in Lower Normandy or Basse-Normandie as it is in French.

This link explains well bocage’s meaning although essentially it is enclosed country, enclosed that is by hedges, normally on an earth bank.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bocage

I gather it can be applied to other countries, although in my travels in the British Isles I have never heard the word used. Nevertheless it is very appropriate.

But the interesting thing which I had not considered is the etymology, in particular as is my want, looking at the anagrams. So here are some thoughts and observations.

Bocage anagrams

Ego cab – a cab is an enclosed vehicle like the London black cab. In the bocage you can escape and be yourself away from the madding crowd.

Geo cab – ‘geo’ for earth and ‘cab’ again from an enclosure like cabinet, somewhere you put things, such as in a drawer, or where you have meetings of minsters of governments.

So an enclosed earth area as it were.

As an aside whether government cabinets are any good is debatable. Sometimes they are cab-inepts! Adding a ‘p’ says it all. After all when you have a p you are getting rid of a waste product, if you understand me! No point in keeping the p in!!

Ace bog – the best bogs in Ireland perhaps, although bog country is not strictly bocage.

The bogs are essential places for wildlife and help regulate water runoff and flooding. Here is a very interesting link.

Cob age – Cob is a

natural building material made from subsoil, water, fibrous organic material (typically straw), and sometimes lime.

From

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cob_%28material%29

The suffix -age means “a general thing”. From Bocage link earlier.

The earth banks on which the hedges grow are essentially a type of cob.

And of course you may grow ‘cobages’ (sic) in your field within the bocage!

Eco bag – a bag containing an eco-system or even a bag for the economy as the bocage can be very productive. A bag is an enclosure of sorts.

Those who have been to Normandy will know of the marvellous range of products from the bocage area. Cider, cheese, Calvados the latter an apple brandy.

I have seen the coppicing of the trees which produces fire wood without cutting down the whole tree. It is a very effective way of generating fuel and helps stimulate growth for future years.

You can therefore get fuel and therefore energy from your own land if you have it.

BO cage – a body odour cage. An area where you can smell the country, from the bodies of the animals. And the humans perhaps!

But here is a salutary warning against the large scale factory farming which is threatening our planet.

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/24/the-smell-the-noise-the-dust-my-neighbour-the-factory-farm

This trend is unsustainable and frankly inhuman. It is human greed at its worst. We must resist it and reverse it.

Anyway, you see bocage contains its own etymology in another way. It is enclosed, a cab, and a cage built in part with cob. It has its own eco-system, a good economy if well managed. As I like to say, it is in the word.

And in the beginning was the Word…

Author: alphaandomega21

Baldmichael Theresoluteprotector'sson. When not posting pages or paging posties, trying to be a good husband, and getting over a long term health issue, I am putting the world to rights. I have nothing better to do, so why not? But of course that includes dancing, being funny (in more than one sense), poking fun at life, poking fun at myself, deflating the pompous, reflating the sad. Seeking to heal the whole of the soul (and body where possible). In short making life as good as it possibly can be for others as well as myself. You can't say fairer than that. But if you can, please say. People need to know.

One thought on “Bocage – why do the French use this word?”

  1. I’ve never heard the word before, but you make an interesting presentation. The idea I get from a bog, (because i have not seen one of these either) is an image in The Lord of the Rings, where Frodo falls in.

    Liked by 1 person

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