Property [ˈprɒpəti] n.: possessions collectively.The word comes from the Latin proprietas, which means something personal.
Voltaire, who knew about such matters, said that 'the spirit of property doubles a man's strength'. Property is an inalienable right. No one may be deprived of their property, particularly if it is private property, and regardless of whether it is
a castle in Barcelona, Spain or a chalet in Barcelonette, in the Alps. There are different ways of owning property, and it is important to be specific. Bare ownership does not mean being dispossessed. A jointly-owned
property raises financial questions, e.g. does more owners mean more problems?
So an owner has a property that they keep in perfect condition, whatever its market value. They are very fond of it. They have others. The properties generally attributed to the beatus possidens (the happy owner) include a love of stones, a desire to breathe new life into them and a pride in ownership. What is the etymological link between the French words propriété (property) et propreté (cleanliness)?
Property is undeniably a private asset. If we think about someone - anyone - neglecting their home, which looks run down and has dirty windows and dusty floors, we find their behaviour inappropriate because we could say that property is what distinguishes humanity. But here, as elsewhere, appearances can be deceptive. Otherwise, what would we make of the 'On Sale' (French: we make it dirty) sign attached to the property of our English neighbours?
Étienne de Montety, Director of the literary Figaro
© François Bouchon