beaucoup

geve

Senior Member
France, French
Hi, forum,

Yes, it's an English word ! Or so it appears in the book I'm reading.

Context : (private investigator Kinsey Millhone is heading back home after a 3-weeks investigation)
"The work had taken me all over the state, and I had a check in my pocket for beaucoup bucks by the time I wrapped up my inquiry on a Friday afternoon"

My question : Why on Earth is there a French word on page 2 of my book, when I've finally resolved to read in English ??

......and more specifically :

- Is it commonly used ?

- Does it have to go before the noun, like "a lot of" or "many" ? Can it be used after a verb ? (eg. I like you beaucoup)

- Is it used in all English speaking countries ?

- Does it have any connotations ? I mean, does it sound posh / elitist / intellectual, or showing off one's skills in French ? (which is really not the style of the character in this book, BTW) Or is it army jargon ?? (the reason I'm asking is that I've found it on this website)

- How would you pronounce it ? "boo-koo" like they say in the above link ?

Beaucoup thanks (or thanks beaucoup ?)

:)
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This is one of a small number of French words that most English natives would understand, a little. So although it is not an English word, it may appear in an English sentence. It would not be considered intellectual - quite likely the reverse as it is likely to be used in this way by those who think that the way to make foreigners understand English is to speak more slowly and to shout.

    As for the pronunciation!
    Take your pick from any number of incorrect versions:D
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    Geve,

    Ha! You have found English pilfering from French again. This has been going on for many centuries.

    - Is it commonly used ? Yes, and the register is very colloquial...verging on slang. It would never be used in formal speech or writing.

    - Does it have to go before the noun, like "a lot of" or "many" Yes...always before a noun.

    ? Can it be used after a verb ? (eg. I like you beaucoup) Jamais. I mean...never!
    It sounds...casual. It's in the same league as "No problemo."

    ciao,
    Cuchu


    PS- pronunciation in AE: Bow coo with the accent on the last syllable, which is often extended...cooooooo. (Rhymes with dew or do or due.)
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I must say that this "beaucoup xxx" business surprises me. I don't remember ever having seen it before. I've heard of "no problemo" but can't remember ever having heard "beaucoup something".

    As Panj says, I could imagine it being said, and most people would understand it but Cuchu seems to be suggesting it is a kind of known and understood thing - like "no problemo" - if so perhaps it is AE (I notice that it is beaucoup bucks (bucks being American slang)). If I heard it I would assume it was just a one-off rather strange jokey comment like, say, "mucho sorryo" for "very sorry" (not that I've heard that before, just making something up).
     

    Isotta

    Senior Member
    English, Hodgepodge
    geve said:
    - How would you pronounce it ? "boo-koo" like they say in the above link ?
    In the American South, it would be "boh-koo," both vowels super-diphthongised. "Boo-koo," still with diphthongs, would be reserved to people who have taken some French. Also possible, if you can believe it, is "boh-kooz."

    Z.
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Wow, the moderating squad at work ! Many mercis !
    Le Pamplemousse said:
    At least "beaucoup" is an actual word in French. :)
    Actually, "no problemo" is as French as "beaucoup" is English ;)

    timpeac said:
    I must say that this "beaucoup xxx" business surprises me. I don't remember ever having seen it before. I've heard of "no problemo" but can't remember ever having heard "beaucoup something".

    As Panj says, I could imagine it being said, and most people would understand it but Cuchu seems to be suggesting it is a kind of known and understood thing - like "no problemo" - if so perhaps it is AE (I notice that it is beaucoup bucks (bucks being American slang)).
    So it seems like an AE borrowing, then. They're american, indeed (author and character)

    Pilfering certainly goes both ways... I can't say who's winning, so far.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    geve said:
    Wow, the moderating squad at work ! [...]
    You see what happens if you title an English-Only thread with a non-English word. Speaking for myself, you nearly ended up in French-English:D
    The dominant pronunciation around here would be boco - to rhyme with Bobo the people, Coco the clown, dodo the extinct bird, gogo the dancer, hoho the laugh, lolo the sweetener, nono the forbidden, roro your boat ashore, soso the average, Toto the dog, or yoyo the craze.
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    panjandrum said:
    You see what happens if you title an English-Only thread with a non-English word. Speaking for myself, you nearly ended up in French-English:D
    :D Yes, that's what I thought when posting this : that it would cause a sudden raise of mod instincts. I could actually picture the flow of raising eyebrows this title surely induced ! I now know what to do to be sure to get your attention.

    panjandrum said:
    The dominant pronunciation around here would be boco - to rhyme with Bobo the people, Coco the clown, dodo the extinct bird, gogo the dancer, hoho the laugh, lolo the sweetener, nono the forbidden, roro your boat ashore, soso the average, Toto the dog, or yoyo the craze.
    Please stop ! That is just beaucoup beaucoup topics of new threads at once !

    As for pronunciation, I tested it on http://www.research.att.com/projects/tts/demo.html, and the 5 AE speakers don't seem to agree either. It goes from "ba-koo" to "bo-kew". The BE speakers sound as if they had studied French.
    Oh well, I was just curious about it... I guess if I say it, I'll just sound French - a French who can't even remember the word "many"
     

    Hakro

    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    panjandrum said:
    As for the pronunciation!
    Take your pick from any number of incorrect versions:D
    I have a bad habit to use 'merci beaucoup' when speaking Finnish, but pronouncing these words as if they were English. To accentuate the wrong pronouncing I say like 'mercy beau-cup' so that 'p' is clearly heard.
    I hope that this is a new variant to the present selection.
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    Hakro said:
    I have a bad habit to use 'merci beaucoup' when speaking Finnish, but pronouncing these words as if they were English. To accentuate the wrong pronouncing I say like 'mercy beau-cup' so that 'p' is clearly heard.
    I hope that this is a new variant to the present selection.
    People sometimes say, jokingly in English, "mercy buckets". The last time I said that to a French person they replied "Dorian", so there is a whole range of Anglicised French words :D
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    oh, we do that too : "Saint-Cloud" ("d" not heard) is our own interpretation of "thank you" (and a town in Paris suburb)

    (I feel we're experiencing a case of "severe relaxing of before-raised eyebrows" in this thread...)

    I'm still struggling to figure out where the "z" comes from, Isotta.
     

    Isotta

    Senior Member
    English, Hodgepodge
    geve said:
    oh, we do that too : "Saint-Cloud" ("d" not heard) is our own interpretation of "thank you" (and a town in Paris suburb)

    (I feel we're experiencing a case of "severe relaxing of before-raised eyebrows" in this thread...)

    I'm still struggling to figure out where the "z" comes from, Isotta.
    Because it's plural!*

    Z.

    *Edit: to get you thinking like a proper Anglophone...because the people who use this have not had lots of French, and they use "beaucoup" as a synonym of "lots" or "oodles," which end with the "z" sound.
     

    Bartold

    Banned
    Polska - Polish
    In Polish there are some strange words from French or English and they are funny pronounced. It's especially confusing when we don't know if it is French or English and it is common that people pronounce French names with English accent.

    Auchan - "oszołom" - pronounced something like 'oshowom'
    Carefur - "kerfur" - pronounced something like 'care-foor'
    Leroy-Merlin - "liroj-merlin" - pronounced something like 'leeroi - merleen'
    Geant - "żant" - pronounced something like 'junt' (this j is like French j)

    Peugeot - "peżot" - pronounced something like 'pejot' (this j is like French j, e like ten and o like got)

    It's no wonder why the Portuguese when they opened their supermarket net it was called "Biedronka" (literally: 'ladybird') :D
     

    dayve

    Member
    English - Australia
    I know that beaucoup figures in Australia's Kath and Kim (a satire), where it is used as a faux-sophisticated expression. (These are the same women who insist Chardonnay is pronounced Car-don-neigh :eek: ).

    The use in this somewhat ironic sense caught on for a while, particularly among the show's fans, but it's not something I hear very often!
     

    Hakro

    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    Bartold said:
    Peugeot - "peżot" - pronounced something like 'pejot' (this j is like French j, e like ten and o like got)
    The Finns who seldom have learned any French pronunciation usually pronounce Peugeot as "pé-ou-gué-ot" (read it as if it were French, and pronouncing 't' clearly).
     

    CAMullen

    Senior Member
    US, English
    "BooCoo," as I first heard it so mispronounced, was used by the American military in VietNam in the 1960's. I would guess it filtered into their vocabulary from the French, who had finally given up in their campaign there. Until then, I had never heard the word used outside of my French lessons in school.
     
    geve
    - Does it have to go before the noun, like "a lot of" or "many" ? Can it be used after a verb ? (eg. I like you beaucoup)

    As Nat King Cole sang so beautifully (if you like that sort of thing) -

    'Darling, je vous aime beaucoup,
    Je ne sais pas what to do.
    You know you've completely
    Stolen my heart.'

    Spring is in the air Geve. Sap is rising. Vive l'amour!


    LRV
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    Thanks, LRV, I like very beaucoup this sort of chose if it comes from Her Majesty !

    Isotta said:
    Because it's plural!*

    Z.

    *Edit: to get you thinking like a proper Anglophone...because the people who use this have not had lots of French, and they use "beaucoup" as a synonym of "lots" or "oodles," which end with the "z" sound.
    Of course. How consistent !

    It's somewhat strange that none of you English natives pronounce the "p" like Hakro does. Should that mean that there are indeed some notions of French behind the use of that word ?


    So it's not that common in England nor Australia. And not that widespread in USA from what Camullen says... I'm getting more and more convinced that this word was put in this book with the sole intent to provoke innocent French readers like me.
     
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