Wednesday, 19 December 2012

“Duchessing” of Industry Organisations?

I read a comment, the other day, that one of the problems facing industry bodies was the “duchessing” of their representatives by governments.

Being part of a democracy and not an aristocracy, I was not sure what this meant, so had to go to Google.

For the interest of members, I have posted some of the definitions below:

“To court or curry favour for political or business advantage”
 “Heaped with insincere praise”
“Overwhelm with flattering attention”
“Flatter or obsequiously (servile, compliant) fawning”

To curry  favour?

Apparently this has nothing to do with Indian food. It comes instead from an Old French verb conraier - 'to prepare', 'to put in order'. This is the same source as the name for the rubbing down and dressing of horses - curry-combing.

Then, the second word was originally not 'favour' but 'favel'.
John Palsgrave's Lesclarcissement de la langue françoyse [The clarification of
the French language], 1530, records a curryfavell as 'a flatterar'.

Favel comes from the 1310 poem by the French royal clerk Gervais du Bus - Roman de Fauvel [The Romance of Fauvel]. That morality tale relates the story of Fauvel, an ambitious and vain donkey, who deceives and corrupts the greedy leaders of church and state. The name Fauvel or Favvel, which is formed from 'fau-vel' (in English 'veiled lie'), is an acrostic made from the initial letters of a version of the seven deadly sins: flaterie (flattery/pride), avarice (greed/gluttony), vilanie (wrath), variété (inconstancy), envie (envy), and lacheté (cowardice).
In the poem, the rich and powerful humiliate themselves by bowing down and stroking the coat of the false leader, i.e. by 'currying Fauvel'.
So to Curry Favour is to try to make someone like you or support you by doing things to please them.

Now, getting back to the Duchessing and Aristocrats caused me to recall Peter Spencer’s comment whilst on the Tower of Hope, that we “are in a democracy not an aristocracy”, although this is becoming much harder to believe, given the decisions that are being made by the Government without any “real” consultation.


  1. Fauvel has been a very long term literary anti-hero of mine, dating back to 3rd or maybe 4th year French, nearly 60 years ago. So great to see him getting an outing here, Greg :-)

    As far as Duchessing is concerned, Labor decided it was an art form worth 'currying' many years ago. That's when (very) Big Business, or those parts of same dependent on understanding what government was on about, and where it was heading, were suddenly elevated to 'Best Friend" status, just behind Big Unions. Branching off from there into "Picking Winners" and "Jobs for the Boys" just followed along, quite naturally.
    Cheers al

  2. I believe that Federally it was Bob Hawk when PM who developed it into a fine art with the very big end of town as Al has discribed it above.
    In Qld state politics it was the Beatie Labor government who duchessed state rural industry groups especially Agforce & paid them to run "education programs" to have farmers come to terms with legislative changes that discriminated dramatically against them.
    With the election of the LNP & the need for fiscial restrain in the face of a basket case economy these funds have been stopped.


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