“Merci beau cul?” When pronunciation matters…
It was a Sunday afternoon. Red automn leaves were scattered on the ground and the wind was getting chilly. The park was still open and a few people gathered there to bask in the last sun rays of the day.
She was walking but was miles away, thinking about her future plans.
He had just sat on a bench in the park to rest after a long day’s work.
As she drew in closer, a gust of wind suddenly blew and she dropped her handbag right in front of him. He saw her and nicely picked it up to hand it back to her.
Smilingly, she said “Merci beau cul”. And then, things went south…
I, for one, loved to hear that “Merci beau cul” (Thank you, you nice piece of ass) in lieu of “Merci beaucoup” (Thank you very much). The first time I heard that, it was from an American lady. I know it may be quite hard to master the French “u” for an English native speaker and use it properly at the beginning.
Nonetheless, that mix-up between the French “ou” and “u” made me smile quite a bit. Who wouldn’t? Especially after such a nice compliment…
Kidding aside, that mistake also enabled to enlighten me on my own mother tongue and its difficulties. When you’re a native speaker, you might put pronunciation or accents on the back burner and deny their importance, but when you meet with few similar howlers or mix-ups, you tend to reconsider and realize that small mistakes might have a big impact.
For instance, there is one word I am particularly careful about and that is “household”. Even though I know I pronounce the “h” properly, on this one, I tend to stress my first “h” a lot more than usual because it might otherwise sound a bit like… well you know 😉
Not the same effect here, indeed…
I am rather curious about the expressions you are struggling with!
I am sure you have similar stories when practising a foreign language or speaking to a foreigner. Indeed, we all do!
So feel free to let me know!
Posted on January 12, 2021 by Mat.