November 12, 2014

History Of A French Expression's Descent Into English

Living in the States for a number of years, I really had a lot of fun listening to how Americans born and bred liked to make English words sound French (Target, for instance, is often pronounced Tarjay)--a blatant exception must be made for the word "croissant"--or butchering a French expression to make a brand new one in English.

This has been most blatant with the word bourge, which is an abbreviation of the word bourgeois and is used to describe those who are posh, materialistic and oftentimes pretentious. Of course, the French "r" is quite hard for most foreigners to pronounce, so the expression turned into bouge (which technically means "move"). Then, the latter not sounding cool enough, they switched it to bouge-y which, if you want to make it look French, becomes bougie.

Bougie, however, means candle in French, so whenever I hear Americans* say bougie to talk about posh people, I can't help but laugh.

By the way, if anyone hasn't seen Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme by Molière, I seriously recommend it!

*I can only vouch for people in the States as I haven't heard (probably because I haven't spent any time with) British, Australian or other native English-speaking peeps use it.

No comments:

Post a Comment