Chérie, il nous faut encore des amuse-bouche!

It’s time to get in practice for Super Bowl Sunday:

Chérie! Il nous faut encore des amuse-bouche!

shay-REE, eel noo fo ah-CORE day zah-mewz-BOOSH.

Dear! We need more appetizers!

Let’s be specific. That’s “dear” as in “darling wife/girlfriend/female significant other”…

What do you shout at a concert, when you loved the music? That’s right—encore! encore! Did you know that you were saying “more! more!”? Yesterday we said encore six semaines, six more weeks. Now the snacks are running out, and it’s urgent to take action, of course! Naturally, when your favorite team scores a touchdown, you could also yell encore! encore! And in that context, it will mean “again! do it again!”

But what about these amuse-bouche? What a great name for an appetizer! it’s a “mouth amuser”, a mouthful that tickles your taste buds and makes you crave more. So get into the kitchen, give a hand with the prep, and practice projecting your voice all the way to the kitchen with today’s yell!

Wondering about why there’s no s on amuse-bouche? Good question. Usually, in French, the plural is formed as it is in English, by adding an s to the end of the word. But some words are exceptions, and this word belongs to one class of exceptions. See the hyphen? That makes it a compound noun, a word composed of two parts. Now look at the two parts: the first, amuse, is a verb (means just what it looks like in English!). The second, bouche, mouth, is a feminine noun. But verbs show that they are plural in a different way than nouns. The solution? Just don’t show the plural.

There’s more, too. Verb + feminine noun = masculine noun. Huh?

Since verbs don’t have a gender–only nouns–you can’t give a gender to a compound noun made up of a verb part and a noun.

So can’t we say “it”, since it’s neither masculine nor feminine? Nope. There’s no such thing in French! So…not only in French, but also in other Romance languages (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese), everything that is neuter–no gender–is absorbed into the masculine.

Sexist? Well, nobody was thinking of such things back in the 5th or 6th century, when French was breaking away from Latin. The result is that there are more masculine nouns in French than there are feminine nouns. So when in doubt, pretend the noun is masculine. You have a better-than-50% chance of being right!

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