Did you know that the French term for a kite translates literally as a “flying deer”? Rather strange, no? I’ve seen kites in all shapes and sizes – at the kite festival we were at this weekend, I saw whale kites, submarines, stars, dragons, tribal masks; I even saw Snow White and all seven dwarves as kites – but I’ve never seen one in the form of a deer.
At first, I imagined that maybe kites used to be made of deer hide, and the hide part of the term just got dropped – stranger things have happened.
It turns out, as it often does, I was wrong. The term cerfs-volants originally used an old French word: serps, making it serps-volant, or flying serpents. When the word serp disappeared from the language, it got replaced by cerf in this case, because the two sound identical (the final f and p aren’t pronounced).
And that’s how you end up with flying deer.
About the drawing, I unfortunately had to put in the kite on the computer – not being able to find my colored pencils, I used some of my son’s crayons, and bungled the original kite. So after I scanned it in, I erased the original and redrew it digitally. I would much rather have redrawn it, but time did not permit.
Question for my readers: this weekend, while watching the kite competitions (synchronized flying), I kept wondering how they managed to keep from getting the kite lines twisted with 4 to 8 kites flying around and twisting around each other. Any ideas?