Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Buttered or Stuffed?

The word of the day at French Word-A-Day is beurré, meaning drunk. I did a double take when I saw this because I had learned that bourré means really drunk, and I've been corrected when my mauvaise prononciation made it sound like I said beurré. You are not buttered, he told me. You're bourré, you're drunk. The beurré/bourré issue was discussed in the comments section; evidently other people were confused too. Word-A-Day's husband said you can use both, and one reader posted that beurré is a corruption of bourré. My guess is that the word you use depends on where you're from, and probably on your accent. I'm going to stick with bourré and leave the beurre for cooking.

I also noticed last week that she used the term une chipie but defined it as an ill-tempered woman. I was told that une chipie is a little girl who likes to play tricks and generally be kind of annoying and smart ass-y, a bratty little girl. The two definitions are in the same sort of general area, but still quite different. Another regional variation? I know that some of the girls at the schools had backpacks with a Chipie character on them, so if the term comes from the character then it seems normal that different regions would have different meanings.

Of course I know that different regions will acquire different slang and terms. In the northeast "wicked" is not a reference to the Salem Witch Trials but means "super cool!" I say pop, the east and west coasts say "soda," and in the south they say "coke." I talk about my tennis shoes while you talk about your sneakers or gym shoes. It's normal that terms change in different parts of the country, but it sure makes language learning a lot harder!

Along the same lines, when I was in middle school we used to shout "oh, ash! wipe it off!" whenever someone made a mistake or did something ridiculous. I think the idea was that ash was supposed to be dandruff, and there was an accompanying motion of brushing the ash off your shoulders. This was only a thing at my middle school. There are five other middle schools in town and not a single one of them ever did this! Talk about regional slang!

Anyone else have funny stories about the differences in vocab between regions?

16 comments:

Andromeda said...

Your middle school story made me think about this one time, someone was joking around and looked up the word "loser" and said it meant "not tight" (tight=cool)and then someone else was like, "no, that's looser" lol.

The standard Lorraine variations are "escargot" for pain au raisin, and "clench" for poignet (door handle) and putting le/la in front of people's names. I've noticed more between me and my NZ friend than between French regions actually!

kiwi in france said...

It does make it hard to learn a language when there are so many variations, I don't know French well enough, or enough people outside of the Auvergne to know any different in French.

But definitely in English there are so many variations between countries and even regions. When I was watching the NZ news not so long ago I wondered how foreign people would understand because we mix English and Maori (native NZ language). In NZ there are only small regional differences (we only have 4 million people!) - in the north we call a holiday house a "bach" and in the south they call it a "crib".

Amber said...

I have never heard beurré before and i've lived in four different regions and travelled in almost every region (I am very proud :)) but who knows?
As far as "Chipie" goes, I was told that it came along with the brand.

The regional dialect here in the north of France is more than just a dialect, it's their way of life. The Ch'ti language (from Picardie) has a mind of it's own and I have to learn it as I go. When they spoke about a "W5" for a mop, I was confused because they don't say "double-v cinq" -- they say "wah-sang" which sounds like nothing French i've ever heard. I just ask people to repeat whenever possible and then store the words in my memory.
We also speak creole since my hubby is Reunionais and that's a slew of vocabulary and lack of grammar all on its own.

getyourselfconnected said...

Do not get a Boston area person like me going, everything we say makes everyone else laugh and or stare at us!

Zhu said...

I do think you can use both beurré/ bourré, although I tend to say "bourré".

There are a lot of voca différences between France and Québec. The most famous one is maybe "les gosse". Means "the kids" in French (slang). But in Québec, it is apparently the slang for testicules... now imagine the French guy who proudly announce in Québec that he has un gosse ! :-D

getyourselfconnected said...

What about "wekid pissa'?

au soleil levant said...

Andromeda - LOL to the loser/looser problem. I like escargot for pain aux raisins!

Kiwi - agreed that there are tonnnnnssss of differences in English between different countries. I really love this series of books written by a British woman but there's a lot of slang and I don't understand half of it!

Amber - Thanks for the info on Chipie. Oh Ch'ti, the famous dialect of the north! I always considered myself lucky to live far enough south in Picardie that we didn't have any accent or funny vocabulary. How well do you think you speak Creole now?

GYC - I went to school in the Boston area so I'm very familiar with the accent and "wicket pissah." Have you pahked yah cah in Havahd yahd recently? :)

Zhu - I really wish I knew more Quebecois. I just heard my first real Quebecois accent - amazing! So completely different from continental French. I'll have to keep that in ind about un gosse...

getyourselfconnected said...

Oh I Knew I was in rouble when I started following this blog.....another beantowner!

You rock girl!

Barbara said...

Hi Mira,

Thank you for giving me a smile this morning. I just buried my FIL yesterday, so the coming days & months will be hard.But this morning, I smiled more than once( normal when we like those around us) and cried just once. So, that's not bad so far.

I hear a lot "bourré",and I hear "prendre une cuite", and my dear FIL(in all due respect) used to say "soûl comme un Polonais" ( sorry for any Polonais/Polish reading this).

Have a good day and enjoy.

Ksam said...

I'm glad you blogged about this, I too was surprised to see her write "beurré(e)" - I'd always heard it as bourré(e) as well (and trust me, it was something I heard a lot during all those years in Bretagne!!) lol

au soleil levant said...

GYC - yes, I do rock, don't I? I don't know if you watch 30 Rock, but when Julianne Moore was on she spoke with a terrible imitation of a Boston accent and it was really grating.

Barbara - I'm so sorry to hear about your FIL, my deepest sympathies to you and your family. Glad I could provide a little smile.

Ksam - I definitely trust your experience in Bretagne to give us the final word on bourre/beurre! I think Bretagne and Picardie must be very similar. ;)

getyourselfconnected said...

Found a great live performance of your winning song request. Oh yeah, you do rock!

Leesa said...

How about 'cou' and 'cou' - thought that's just pronunciation not really the same thing you are blogging about... I often said.. "Merci beauCUL" - instead of saying it as "merci beaucoup."
There are a few other's --
like bite/mordre and beet/beat- betterave...

Great post!

au soleil levant said...

I have been caught by the queue/cul pronunciation problem. Very embarrassing, but it makes for a funny story!

kiwi in france said...

Differences between American and NZ English...

http://www.nz.com/new-zealand/guide-book/language/dictionary.aspx#w

au soleil levant said...

Thanks Kim, great link! Lots of interesting terms and pronunciations.