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MER IL ET FOU, along with ENKULER DE RIRE and Si j’été pas là, vous seriez vous, are pieces of slang and image macros based on the casual misspelling of a 13 years old boy. They became famous and corny catchphrases used to express respectively questioning about somebody’s sanity for the first slang, great euphoria for the second one and egocentric irony for the last one.
September 27th 2009, on a forum hosted by Gamekult which is a French website about video games, a user named Noyart (from whom we’ll find out that his real name is Gabriel and he’s a 13 years old boy later on in the thread) created a topic because he is in the middle of a dilemma. He is torn in his choice to buy a game console and he wants to know the advantages and the drawbacks of a PSP.
While his message isn’t that bad written, with some slight mistakes and emoticons (like most of children/teenagers can do on the internet, one may say), a peculiar sentence can be seen: MER IL ET FOU
That sentence is written in all caps and initially emphasized that he anticipated being pointed out as crazy for planning to buy a PSP, supposedly because that game console, according to the video game media, had some selling difficulties throughout the world.
MER IL ET FOU‘s in-joke is hard to translate. The sentence means but he’s crazy !. The way it’s written is similar to the misgrammar commonly found in Lolcats and could be translated word-to-word as BUT HE AND CRAZY, the correct mais word sounding nearly the same as mer. Another valid explanation for the MER word, other than its phonetic translation, could be its closest French acronym: MDR => Mort de rire (laughing to death) which more or less is the French equivalent of LOL.
Noyart came back a first time, saying that he’d finally go buy a PSP at the nearest shop. Yet, there was a constant stream of responses with different pictures and Noyart, coming back a second time, gave some kind of an ambiguous comment: ENKULER DE RIRE.
One more time, this simple sentence, meaning roughtly fucked by laughter, certainly a stronger version of PTDR (Pété De Rire = Broken in half laughing) or EXPDR (Explosé De Rire = Exploding from laughter), the French variants of ROFL and LMAO while the past tense is misplaced with the infinitive form and the correct “C” letter has been misplaced with “K”, added more strength to the comments.
Quickly, the other posters found Noyart’s blog (now defunct), allowing everyone to know about his name, age and the city where he lives.
Fearless, Noyart continued to play along with all the posters and gave new strange but funny comments such as si j’été pas là, vous seriez vous => If I were not there, you would be you.
Which in fact he misspelled the whole sentence with étais (preterit were here) misspelt with été (past participle been) and où (French for where) misspelt with vous (French for you). So the real sentence would actually be “si j’étais pas là, où seriez vous” which litteraly mean “If i were not here, where would you be”
This thread, still active today, has led to more than 60 pages of comments and replies.
New French meme
The popularity of thess catchphrases exploded beyond Gamekult’s website and they got featured in several blogs and articles, seeing them as The new teenage way of talking:
- Blogasty article
- Paper blog article
- Oreille malade
- Nomnomnom.fr article
A Facebook fan club based on the ENKULER DE RIRE sentence has been created in mid-October 2009 and has already gathered about 4 000 fans, and is constantly gathering more fans. (now defunct)
Two other ones based on MER IL EST FOU were also created. The most popular of them has gathered more than 9 700 fans.
- http://www.meriletfou.com/ dealing with image parodies and an IRC channel only reserved to the meme.
- http://www.enkulerderire.com/ gathering mainly twitter accounts talking about the meme. (Now redirects to another blog that has nothing to do with the meme)
Media recognition : Halo Reach
Halo: Reach is a first-person shooter video game, developed by Bungie and published by Microsoft Game Studios for the Xbox 360 console. Reach was released in North America, Australia, and Europe on September 14, 2010.
The game contains many Easter Eggs, one of them being called the Doctor Halsey’s lab or Tribute Room:
In the French version of the game, the meme has been reused to appear on one of the computers’ screens:
(It can be seen around 6:33 in the video)
The full transcript says:
SUBJECT: MER IL ET FOU
Curious. I don’t recall opening this file. Perhaps I have a security breach?
It must be noted that the original English transcript reads as SUBJECT: I LIKE PIE in the US version.
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