My beauf still has our camera. He took it two weekends ago for the tux and bow-tie affair happenin’ over at the chateau where his beauf (wife’s brother) was getting married to a very posh lady.
And I’m bummed about this because the sorrel in my garden is getting pretty huge (and eaten by snails) and I am just itching to do a recipe post for escargot in sorrel sauce.
No – teasing. I want to do a recipe post for fish with sorrel and cream sauce and this requires the camera. I guess for this current post I shall be forced to make something with my words instead.
Beauf, in case you were wondering, is slang for “beau-frère,” which means “brother-in-law.” Of course in true French fashion, it literally means “beautiful brother.” They use beau and belle for every member of the family to signify “in-law” so that you end up saying beautiful mother, instead of mother-in-law. (You know – like I’m required by law to put up with you, or something).
And in true French fashion they manage to find a way around the poetic word and create something cynical out of it, like beauf. Nowadays it usually refers to anyone who is crass, uncultured, stupid … and proud of it.
The word beauf is not far from another slang word: bof. Bof is pronounced kind of like boff, whereas beauf is pronounced more like bowf (as in bow and arrow bow).
Bof is also a pejorative word and stems from “beurre, oeufs, fromage.” Butter, eggs and cheese.
You would see the sign “bof” on the creameries in the early 20th century, and during the German occupation this abbreviation began to be associated with people who became rich off the black market. Only those who dealt in shady dealings were able to easily (and illegally) attain bof.
Today bof is used all over the place to express disdain, or its less energetic cousin – apathy.
“Hey, look at that babe over there – she’s hot!”
“oh … bof.”
“Mmm this meal is delicious.”
“mm (shrug) … bof.”
“I love how warm and cuddly the French are!!!!!”
“hein? … bof!”
Any enthusiasm displayed about any subject to any French person is sure to be met with a bof, in fact. (Except maybe on the subject of Chet Baker, as it is considered cool to be enthusiastic about jazz).
If you would like the secret of imitating the French, you’ll want to start with translating the word “um.” When hemming and hawing over words, you won’t hear “ah” or “uh” or “like (totally).” You’ll hear the word “ben,” except the n is only hinted at, not pronounced – almost like beh.
I’m so adept at hemming and hawing in any language I sometimes even say it when speaking English.
“If you want to go, ben - well go!”
And then I blush and pretend like the entire sentence was spoken in English so that my hearer thinks his ears have deceived him.
You can also slip in an “enfin” (finally) or an “en fait” (in fact) to keep things spicy. That’s what Petit Prince is doing these days in an effort to stake his claim in the conversation as the youngest member in a family of five. He’s starting to use all these grown up words, like en fait and “parka” (parce que means because). He says this even when he’s not giving a reason. He says it just … parka.
“Parka les dragons ils crachent du feu!” (Because the dragons, they spit fire!)
And then to cinch the deal he adds: “en fait.”
When hurt, the French don’t say, “ow!” like we do. In fact it’s we Anglos who are the real frogs if such analogies are to be made (with our mouths opened wide each time we talk). The French are more like rabbits with their “ew’s” and “euh’s.” They, in fact, say “aie aie!” when they hurt themselves (sounds like iy iy).
And this allows me to very naturally, of course, segué into the great mystery of the iron X’s on the walls in France. (Get it? All the French who say aie, aie! as they hammer their thumb while bolting down the X’s).
Many of the stone houses are so old, their walls are falling outwards. So they put a metal cross on the outside of each opposite-facing wall and bolt a metal beam to each one of the crosses on the inside of the house to pull the walls towards each other. And that is what all those X’s are for. Good to know huh? And good to know that the house is not going to fall down on top of you as you saunter by?
(That would be some serious aie, aie!).
I think I’ve covered all the basics of hemming and hawing and pejorative slang. I’ve suffered us all through a post with no pictures, a trumped-up subject matter and a questionable promise of a post on fish. It’s just all so exciting isn’t it?