I have recently been trying to listen to RFI and noticed that they mention

le douze quatorze

often. But I' having difficulty following everything around it. I can't tell exactly what they are referring to. It seems they are naming their midday news program with a bit of word play around the hours of noon and 2pm, but I can't tell what the wordplay is. Is it:

  • a reference to 'chercher midi à 14 heures'?
  • a literary reference?
  • something about midday mealtime?
  • something else entirely?

I have searched for expressions involving 12 and 14 but have only come up with the first one and it just doesn't seem to fit (unless of course that is exactly the reference they are making for a tongue-in-cheek discussion of news).

Also, can you comment on the syntax? It is not 'le douze à quatorze' or simply 'douze à quatorze'. The range is objectified (into a noun) but dropping the 'à'... is that natural to do in similar situations?

  • 1
    I used to think that chercher midi à 14 heures was like looking for something for 2 hours but I just learned that the à was a reference to place and not time. we could say that chercher midi à 14 heures is looking for something where it isn't. before XVIIe century this idiom was chercher midi à onze heures – Flying_whale Oct 11 at 15:10
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  • @Flying_whale Thanks for that perspective. This may be an elementary question but for potential answerers, is 'à' ambiguous like that? Possible to show both a stretch of time between two ends and also ... well... at that one thing (implying in the phrase searching for one thing at a different place than another). – Mitch Oct 11 at 15:43
up vote 5 down vote accepted

That's the title of a radio or a TV program, starting at 12PM and ending at 2PM.

As we commonly use 24 hour based time, that's 12 heures - 14 heures

Here are various examples of this usage:

https://www.station-millenium.com/radio/les-emissions/le-12-14/

http://www.galaxieradio.fr/emissions/le-12-14-avec-guillaume-25

https://www.liberation.fr/medias/2000/10/02/naissance-du-12-14-sur-france-3_339231

Using an hour as a substantive is very common in this context. Both main French TV channels evening news have been called le 20 heures for decades. - TF1 - Antenne 2/France 2

Similarily, the midday news is called le 13 heures.

There is an ellipsis in these expressions, the whole sentence being le journal de 20 heures.

When the span of the TV program is used instead of the starting hour, a slash is used:

NRJ 6/9
France 3 19/20 and 12/13

Unlike with the expression un cinq à sept, the preposition à is never used when referring to TV or radio programs like le 12/14 except with the sept à huit. One might notice both forms with an à are using the more informal 12 hour clock while the ones without it are using a 24 hour clock.

  • Excellent. But is there anything more to that? Any metaphorical meaning? Or is it simply the hours of the program being used as the label for it? – Mitch Oct 10 at 13:19
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    Only the hours in that case. A notable similar expression that can have an double meaning is cinq à sept. – jlliagre Oct 10 at 13:36
  • 2 other examples with other numbers : Le 6-9, le 6-8 – Laurent S. Oct 10 at 15:04
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    Oh, and by the way, depending on where you reside, you can often hear "entre midi et deux" for "from 12PM to 2PM" – Right leg Oct 10 at 21:24
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    Another French TV program is named Sept à huit, in reference to its (original) air time. I cannot think of such another program name that uses the à. – Greg Oct 11 at 14:41

To make a long story short:

le douze quatorze est une émission qui passe entre midi et deux.

As an answer already asserts it is a radio program. There might be in the title they've chosen a bit of an innocuous word play if we remenber what used to be called "le 5 à 7" in France at a not too distant time in the past and which is still being called so, although the term seems to enjoy less publicity nowadays; the definition due to Wikipedia is faithful to what I think I know of this social habit such as developped in France : the 5 à 7 is renowned for that particular kind of activity that consists in rejoining lovers so as to spend with them a part of the day that, avowedly, would last from 5 to 7 o'clock in the afternoon.

Here is what wikipedia justly says;

Cinq à sept originally referred to a time for a tryst, and consequently a metonymy for visit to one's mistress, an affair, and the mistress (or lover) involved. It derived from the time of day French men would make such a visit. It is still commonly considered today as the moment of the day to meet one's mistress or lover, and the term is understood with a sexual content (as opposed to Quebec habit).

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    J'ai déjà évoqué le cinq à sept mais je ne crois pas du tout qu'il puisse y avoir un lien quelconque entre cette expression et le 12-14. En revanche, le 6/9 de Laurent S. peut lui être sujet à interprétation... – jlliagre Oct 10 at 15:41
  • @jlliagre Non, bien sûr, pas de conséquence en rapport avec le contenu de l'émission, mais seulement, comme dans beaucoup de cas de tel jeux de mots, une idée qui s'arrête au titre, pour stimuler l'esprit, la curiosité; je ne crois pas que l'émission « Touche pas à mon poste » ait grand chose à faire avec un « pote », néanmoins ce que le titre suggère de façon évidente c'est « Touche pas à mon pote ». Il faut reconnaitre néanmoins que le caractère suggestif est moindre dans le présent cas (2 heures, une pause). Mais dans aucun des deux cas n'est-on bien sûr de l'intention des organisateurs. – user168676 Oct 10 at 15:58
  • @jilliagre > Je doute sérieusement qu'il y ait dans le nom "le 6-9" la moindre volonté de faire un jeu de mot ou une vague allusion à "69" (car j'imagine que c'est bien de cette interprétation que vous parlez), mais effectivement il s'agit des 2 mêmes chiffres... – Laurent S. Oct 12 at 14:38

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