Mais où est donc Ornicar ?

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"Ornicar" redirects here. For the asteroid, see 17777 Ornicar.
Not to be confused with Mais ou et donc Ornicar.

Mais où est donc Ornicar ?, or Mais où est donc Carnior ? is a French-language mnemonic that aids in remembering the language's coordinating conjunctions. The sentence translates as "Where, therefore, is Ornicar?", or "Where is Ornicar, then?", and is a phonetic juxtaposition of the words mais (but), ou (or), et (and), donc (therefore), or (however), ni (nor), and car (for).

The phrase is often learned by French school children, and has influenced French culture, including having an asteroid named after it and inspiring the titles of numerous literary, musical and cinematic works.


Mnemonic in English but where is therefore Ornicar [name]  ?
Mnemonic maisSame word in mnemonic and conjunctions est doncSame word in mnemonic and conjunctions Ornicar ?
Conjunctions ou et or ni car
Conjunctions in English but or and therefore now nor for
 dagger  Same word in mnemonic and conjunctions [1][2]

Of the seven coordinating conjunctions included in the mnemonic, four (et, ou, ni and mais) are universally recognised as such in French. Car is also a coordinating conjunction meaning "because".[3] Or is sometimes considered a coordinating conjunction, but can also be treated as an adverb.[4] The grammatical reference work Le Bon Usage classes these six as conjunctions, but donc as an adverb—it also notes that other constructions such as puis, aussi and seulement have some characteristics of coordinating conjunctions.[5]

Although two of the words in the sentence, mais and donc, have both the same spelling and meaning as the conjunctions they represent, it relies on homophones of other French words. The French relative pronoun (where) is used because it sounds the same as ou (or);[6] the presence of a grave accent differentiates their orthography.[7] Est, a third-person present tense form of the verb être (to be), is used instead of the conjunction et (and); again, in this context, they are pronounced similarly.[8] Ornicar—which is intended to sound like a French given name, even though it is not one[9] —is used as a proper noun to represent the three conjunctions or (now/yet), ni (nor) and car (for).


The phrase is taught to and used by French children to help them remember their language's most common coordinating conjunctions.[1][10] In Quebec, the version Mais où est donc Carnior ? (with the words or and car swapped) is used.[11] In English, the similar mnemonic acronym "FANBOYS" may be used to remember its coordinating conjunctions.[12]

Cultural influence[edit]

The journal of the Freudian field published by the University of Paris's Department of Psychoanalysis was called Ornicar ?.[13] The 1979 French film Mais où et donc Ornicar uses this mnemonic as its title.[14] The French astronomer Alain Maury named an asteroid, 17777 Ornicar, after the phrase following its discovery by the OCA-DLR Asteroid Survey at Caussols on 24 March 1998.[10][15] According to the JPL Small-Body Database, the naming "honor[ed] French teachers around the world" and "provides one answer to [the] question" of where to find Ornicar.[15] In 2002, Gérald Stehr and Willi Glasauer published a children's book titled Mais où est donc Ornicar? (English version as "But, where, therefore, is Oscar, the Platypus?")—it features Ornicar as a platypus (ornithorynque in French).[16] In 2005, the Quebec rock group Les Dales Hawerchuk released a song with the title "Mais où est donc Carnior ?".[17] The mnemonic became the subject of a satirical "Chuck Norris fact" in France: "Chuck Norris knows where Ornicar is".[18]

See also[edit]




  1. ^ a b Lawless, Laura K. "French Coordinating Conjunctions". French Language. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  2. ^ Collins 2010.
  3. ^;s=2841050880;r=1;nat=;sol=0;
  4. ^ Price, Glanville (17 December 2007). A Comprehensive French Grammar (6th ed.). Blackwell Publishing. pp. 540–541. ISBN 978-1-4051-5385-0. 
  5. ^ Grevisse, Maurice. Le Bon Usage (in French) (15th ed.). Brussels: De Boeck. §1082. ISBN 978-2801116425. 
  6. ^ Collins 2010, p. 659: They are both pronounced [u]
  7. ^ Mazet, Veronique (2013). French Grammar For Dummies. John Wiley & Sons. p. 26. ISBN 978-1-118-50250-1. 
  8. ^ Collins 2010, pp. 366, 2201: Et is pronounced [e], while est is pronounced [ɛ]
  9. ^ Lévy, Elsa. "Mais qui est donc Ornicar?" [But who, therefore, is Ornicar?]. Mediapart (in French). Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  10. ^ a b Guisard, Stéphane; Guisard, Philippe (October 2004). "Mais où est donc Ornicar ?" (PDF). Défense de la langue française (in French) (214): 27. 
  11. ^ "L'erreur que je ne ferai plus – Capsule no 93" [The mistake I will no longer make – Capsule no. 93]. Activités et services aux étudiants (in French). Cégep du Vieux Montréal. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  12. ^ Day, Robert A.; Sakaduski, Nancy (30 June 2011). Scientific English: A Guide for Scientists and Other Professionals (3rd ed.). ABC-CLIO. p. 69. ISBN 978-0-313-39174-3. 
  13. ^ Miller, Jacques-Alain (January 1975). Ornicar ? (1).  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ "1988". Previous Years. Canterbury Film Society. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  15. ^ a b "17777 Ornicar (1998 FV9)". JPL Small-Body Database. NASA. Retrieved 14 August 2013. 
  16. ^ Stehr, Gérald; Glasauer, Willi (2002). Mais où est donc Ornicar? (in French). Archimède. ISBN 978-2-211-05637-3. 
  17. ^ "Les Dales Hawerchuk: Les Dales Hawerchuk". iTunes Store. Apple. Retrieved 15 August 2013. 
  18. ^ "Les 100 meilleurs Chuck Norris Facts !" [The 100 best Chuck Norris Facts]. (in French). Retrieved 14 August 2013.  (Original French: "Chuck Norris sait ou [sic] se trouve Ornicar.")

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