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What's the exact meaning for 'de' in Tour de France?

Can I describe an riding event like 'Tour de Hainan Island'?

Assuming I riding around Hainan island by cycling.

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I voted to close because this is a question about French, not English. But I still have my doubts. What if you are non-native speaker to English and you come across such a phrase. How are you supposed to know that it is not English? –  Mitch May 18 '11 at 2:13
    
I would argue that this question is on topic, because "Tour de France" is used commonly in English, never mind that it was borrowed from another language. English Wikipedia and Wiktionary both have pages for "Tour de France", and neither page gives a translation of the phrase into English. –  phoog May 2 '12 at 16:03

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

"Tour de France" is in French, where de means of. The slightly less well-known "Giro d'Italia" and "Vuelta a España" are similarly in the local languages.

If you wrote "Tour de Hainan Island" then you would be suggesting a link to the French event, while "Tour of Hainan" would be standard English and is already used.

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It means 'of,' as in Tour of France. You can use 'de' if you'd like, and everyone would know what you mean. Unfortunately, guys like Donald Trump also do that sort of thing for the cheap grab at prestige.

You don't want people to think you're like Donald Trump, do you?

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Jinx! Nice touch mentioning the Donald, though. –  KitFox May 18 '11 at 0:46
    
Sometimes the right flair is the best answer. :-D –  mfe May 18 '11 at 13:54

It means "of", as in Tour of France. So yes, you could say "Tour de Hainan Island," even if you weren't cycling. You could walk or ride horses. As long as you were traveling around it.

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Well since we're not speaking English any more and since Hainan is the famous Chinese Island (海南 Sea+South) I might just as well point out that the French de can be translated in Chinese by non other than ... de () as well.

In Taiwan, 我腳踏車: my bicycle. In Beijing: 我自行车.

Tour de France: "環法自行車賽".

Tour de Hainan: "環海南自行車賽" and with de if one really wishes: 海南自行車賽

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This is kind of off-topic, and ultimately just coincidence, not to mention that Chinese 的 de is a postposition while French de is a preposition. –  Jon Purdy May 18 '11 at 1:27
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:-) I can see we have at least 3 languages in common @Jon! I agree with your comment. Since the whole thread is actually off topic (I fail to see any direct link with English for now) I allowed myself to add a fourth albeit slightly different answer just in order to point out this noteworthy coincidence. Given the fact this is no real peak hour, I can probably be forgiven! –  Alain Pannetier Φ May 18 '11 at 1:35
    
Good point. Come to look at your profile, I'm actually quite jealous of all the places you've had the chance to live, many of whose languages I've studied myself. Leave it to English.SE to bring this sort of person together, hein? –  Jon Purdy May 18 '11 at 1:42
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I found it very difficult to overcome using de in the French way when I was learning Chinese. This led to some very funny sentence constructions. –  KitFox May 18 '11 at 14:01

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