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Jens
2017-May-04, 01:19 PM
This is a question about pronunciation. In the US people use the word beau (from French) to mean boyfriend. My recollection is that my grandmother used to pronounce it like "bow". But in some recent rap songs, I've heard people pronounce it like "boo", so that it rhymes with "you." Is this a recent change in the pronunciation?

Also, for the non-Americans, is this a usage that has current outside thee US? Can you call a girl's boyfriend her beau? From looking online, it seems it's a common usage throughout English. I'm wondering now if perhaps my recollection of "bow" is just because I lived in France as a kid...

CJSF
2017-May-04, 02:00 PM
It's used, but considered a bit quaint or mock-vintage, at least in my experience. It's not quite antiquated, but when it's said, it's usually either very slightly tongue-in-cheek or very slightly pretentious (in a self-aware way). I don't know if I'm capturing that right or not. I'm sure some older people use it in a more straightforward manner, though. Again, YMMV.

CJSF

CJSF
2017-May-04, 02:02 PM
Oh, and as to your OP/Q, I've only ever head it pronounced "bow". Are you sure the rap songs aren't using some other term of "endearment"?

CJSF

Heid the Ba'
2017-May-04, 02:21 PM
Beau is pronounced "bow" the way you think, I have no idea how to write that with the correct phonetic indicators. I would never use beau and don't remember the last time I heard it used.

[old white person] Young hippity hop types and rap singers do use "boo" to mean paramour, I have no idea if it is a variant or derived from some other word. I think it might have been used for some time, possibly as far back as the 1990s. I think there was a Destiny's Child song that had that in the lyrics. [/old white person]

Edit to add: At least as far back as 2004. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Boo_(Usher_and_Alicia_Keys_song))

Strange
2017-May-04, 02:32 PM
This is a question about pronunciation. In the US people use the word beau (from French) to mean boyfriend. My recollection is that my grandmother used to pronounce it like "bow". But in some recent rap songs, I've heard people pronounce it like "boo", so that it rhymes with "you." Is this a recent change in the pronunciation?

When you say "bow", I assume you mean as in violin or archer, not ships or polite gesture. I wonder if the new (if it is new) pronunciation could come from a French-speaking (or influenced) area of the Americas, where the change might not be as great as for English speakers.

"Beau" sounds pretty old-fashioned to me. (And I am too old to know to what extent The Young Set are using boo - outside of song lyrics.)

Strange
2017-May-04, 02:33 PM
Edit to add: At least as far back as 2004. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Boo_(Usher_and_Alicia_Keys_song))

Or 2002:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dilemma_(song)

Edit: 1996
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Boo_(Ghost_Town_DJ%27s_song)

Edit 2: 1980s
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/boo#boo_Noun_400

Gillianren
2017-May-04, 03:00 PM
There's at least one book by L. M. Montgomery that's written and set in the '20s where a young girl tells an older female authority figure (an aunt or servant or something) that talking of "beaux" is old-fashioned. The plural makes it quite clear that it's of French derivation, and I've only ever encountered the term in old books--and, indeed, nothing newer than the 1920s.

Heid the Ba'
2017-May-04, 03:05 PM
Or 2002:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dilemma_(song)

That is the one I was thinking of, right singer, Kelly Rowland, wrong act.

Buttercup
2017-May-04, 03:10 PM
This is a question about pronunciation. In the US people use the word beau (from French) to mean boyfriend. My recollection is that my grandmother used to pronounce it like "bow". But in some recent rap songs, I've heard people pronounce it like "boo", so that it rhymes with "you." Is this a recent change in the pronunciation?

Not that I'm aware. It's an uncommon word in this area, but elsewhere I've been, it's always pronounced "bow" (soft "o").

Strange
2017-May-04, 03:21 PM
That is the one I was thinking of, right singer, Kelly Rowland, wrong act.

She was in Destiny's Child though, so I think you can be forgiven.

grant hutchison
2017-May-04, 04:09 PM
Yes, archery "bow" as in the old joke, "She has added another beau to her string."

Isn't "boo" effectively another word, with different usage, and spelled differently?
The Oxford English Dictionary has citations going back to the 1980s for "boo", for a boyfriend or girlfriend, "Origin uncertain; perhaps an alteration of beau." Originally African-American, it says.

Beau is definitely well-understood in the UK, but not in current usage except humorously in the ways CJSF describes in post #2.

Grant Hutchison

grapes
2017-May-04, 06:04 PM
Or 2002:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dilemma_(song)

Edit: 1996
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Boo_(Ghost_Town_DJ%27s_song)

Edit 2: 1980s
https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/boo#boo_Noun_400
Interesting (second link) http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/usher/myboo.html

I've found one claim that "boo" is a shortened "booty"

Strange
2017-May-04, 06:08 PM
I've found one claim that "boo" is a shortened "booty"

And I've seen somewhere that it is derived from "boopsie" but as I am not familiar with that word, I can't really comment.

Heid the Ba'
2017-May-05, 04:36 AM
Can't we find a single young POC to put us right on this? I thought we were a bit more diverse than this.

AGN Fuel
2017-May-05, 06:21 AM
Beau, to rhyme with crow. My parents used it reasonably often in general conversation.

There are several American pronunciations that I do find unusual - dropping the 'h' from herb to force an awkward 'errb' sound, substituting the 'l' for an 'r' when pronouncing the word 'solder' and (especially) the vocal gymnastics that turn the monosyllabic 'buoy' into what sounds like 'boo-wee' stand out.

Mind you, I speak Strine, so we have more than our fair share of lingual oddities ourselves! :)

CJSF
2017-May-05, 01:04 PM
The dropped "h" in herb is quasi-regional and not universal in the USA (I pronounce it, for example). And most of the pronunciations of "solder" I hear (and how I say it), drop the "l" and say the "o" as "ahw" - sort of almost like "paw" but the w a little soft. "Sahwder." I don't think I've heard anyone say it "sorder", but I might not pay close enough attention.

CJSF

Kwalish Kid
2017-May-05, 01:20 PM
The worse is that there are people in the USA with the name "Beauchamp" who insist that it be pronounced, "BEE-cham". Talk about violence to pronunciation!

Strange
2017-May-05, 01:29 PM
The worse is that there are people in the USA with the name "Beauchamp" who insist that it be pronounced, "BEE-cham". Talk about violence to pronunciation!

That is the standard (and, as far as I know, universal) pronunciation in the UK.

Names (of people and places) often have very idiosyncratic spellings/pronunciations. St John, Mainwaring, Cholmondley, etc.

grant hutchison
2017-May-05, 01:30 PM
The worse is that there are people in the USA with the name "Beauchamp" who insist that it be pronounced, "BEE-cham". Talk about violence to pronunciation!Blame the Normans.
They brought French family names into Britain in the eleventh century. The names of course weren't pronounced like modern French back then, and their pronunciation has evolved indepently of French ever since. So BEE-cham is standard for that name if it is of British origin.

Grant Hutchison

grapes
2017-May-05, 01:41 PM
and (especially) the vocal gymnastics that turn the monosyllabic 'buoy' into what sounds like 'boo-wee' stand out.

I'm not sure that that is vocal gymnastics, more like the British tendency to vocal elision, no? The etymologies I can find say it might be from middle dutch boye or french boie

Jim
2017-May-05, 03:18 PM
... Names (of people and places) often have very idiosyncratic spellings/pronunciations ...

I was in ROTC in high school. One year we had a BIG inspection coming up. I was part of the team that checked every cadet to make sure they were ready. I had to arrange for a couple to get shaves, and to get brass for a few uniforms. One cadet had forgotten his name badge.

Fortunately, the sergeant running the program had the hardware covered. He pulled brass and a badge out of his desk drawer and tossed them to the cadets.

During the inspection, the Commandant of the ROTC battalion was going down the line, stopping in front of random cadets and asking them the usual questions. "What is the muzzle velocity of the M1 rifle?" "What is the second general order?" Then he stopped in front of the cadet who had forgotten his name badge.

"What's your name, mister?"
"Sir, Cadet Private Claunch, sir!"
"Huh. Your badge says Schultz."
"Sir, spelled Schultz, pronounced Claunch, sir!"
Pause.
"Very well."

And he moved down the line.

Oh ...
Beau = bow as in archery.
Herb = 'erb. (Humble, TX, is the same way.)
Solder = sawder.
Buoy = boo-ee. (Now try Bowie, as in Jim or the knife.)

Delvo
2017-May-05, 04:09 PM
"Boo" isn't a different pronunciation of "beau", because it's literally actually spelled "B-O-O".


substituting the 'l' for an 'r' when pronouncing the word 'solder'I've never encountered this, but it reminds me that I've been noticing the opposite from some Brits lately: pronouncing the letter R like an L after an O. It's been drastic enough to have made me misunderstand what people were saying in several cases, like Benedict Cumberbatch turning "force" into "false".

grant hutchison
2017-May-05, 04:15 PM
I'm not sure that that is vocal gymnastics, more like the British tendency to vocal elision, no? The etymologies I can find say it might be from middle dutch boye or french boieI can't see the elision in the British version - we also use a diphthong, just a completely different diphthong (in IPA, /ɔɪ/ instead of /ui/). The American pronunciation is certainly pretty close to the modern French and Dutch words, so doesn't seem particularly gymnastic to me, either.

(I've met Americans who pronounce buoyant the way we do in British English - there seems to be a bit of division on how that one works in American English.)

Grant Hutchison

BigDon
2017-May-05, 04:38 PM
Blame the Normans.
They brought French family names into Britain in the eleventh century. The names of course weren't pronounced like modern French back then, and their pronunciation has evolved indepently of French ever since. So BEE-cham is standard for that name if it is of British origin.

Grant Hutchison

Hey Doc, do you have a story about why people with the family name "Houston" insist, rather abruptly in most cases, that's it's pronounced "House-ton" and not "Hew-ston", like the city in Texas?

I had to note this when an utter grandmother* of a social worker I know completely falls into another persona altogether when she corrects people on the pronunciation. (Only ever had to tell me once. :surprised: )

Though if anybody else knows, feel free to speak up.




*Grandmother is not an insult here.

grant hutchison
2017-May-05, 05:04 PM
Hey Doc, do you have a story about why people with the family name "Houston" insist, rather abruptly in most cases, that's it's pronounced "House-ton" and not "Hew-ston", like the city in Texas?If you look at the spellings of the original Houston (in Scotland) on old maps, it's clear people were pronouncing it as "Hows-ton" or "Haws-ton", despite the fact it derives etymologically from "Hugh's Settlement". (A Scottish toun isn't necessarily a town; the name was also applied to the little groups of houses in crofting communities.)
So families who came from Scotland tended to pronounce it Howston, as did the man after whom Houston Street in New York was named.
But there were also Scottish Houstons who settled in Ulster, and Sam Houston's family arrived in America that way. They tended to pronounce their family name as if mindful of the original Hugh.

Meanwhile, back in the UK, we decided we wanted to pronounce it like "Who's ton".

Grant Hutchison

grapes
2017-May-05, 05:35 PM
I can't see the elision in the British version - we also use a diphthong, just a completely different diphthong (in IPA, /ɔɪ/ instead of /ui/). The American pronunciation is certainly pretty close to the modern French and Dutch words, so doesn't seem particularly gymnastic to me, either.

(I've met Americans who pronounce buoyant the way we do in British English - there seems to be a bit of division on how that one works in American English.)

I haven't any personal experience to back it up, I just saw the online distinction, that the British one is one syllable and the American is two syllable.

BigDon
2017-May-05, 05:40 PM
Thank you Doc.

You lived up to expectations and earned me $20.

"Not only will he know, but he give a brief but oddly satisfying answer. Like the wizard in A Spell For Chameleon "

"Oh nonsense " (A paraphrase.)

"Betcha twenty bucks."

"Your on!"

In case your unfamiliar said wizard would answer any question you had in return for a year of service.

And nobody ever felt cheated. He was once approached by a sphinx that asked him, "Do I have a soul?"

The wizard's reply was, "Only creatures that have souls worry about them."

As opposed to a yes or no answer.

publiusr
2017-May-05, 05:43 PM
But in some recent rap songs, I've heard people pronounce it like "boo", so that it rhymes with "you."

General Boo-regard--of the late boo-regards.

grant hutchison
2017-May-05, 06:15 PM
Thank you Doc.

You lived up to expectations and earned me $20.Who were you betting with?

Grant Hutchison

BigDon
2017-May-05, 06:19 PM
Who were you betting with?

Grant Hutchison

My younger brother reading over my shoulder in passing. Not a regular poster though a registered member. :)

Trebuchet
2017-May-05, 09:00 PM
Hey Don, how's you daughter Beaux getting on? Married yet?

Meanwhile: Throat-Warbler-Mangrove.

BigDon
2017-May-05, 09:06 PM
October 21st Treb!

And: The blue fish swims in deep water...

Nicolas
2017-May-08, 08:58 PM
For your information: in French, "beau" is pronounced without a "w". Just "bo". Like "boyfriend" but without the "yfriend". :)

Even though we use tons of French words in Flandres, nobody ever uses "beau" for boyfriend here.

An in an attempt to try to sound hip at thirty something: in music, "boo" is used quite often. But if you really want to be whatever hip is called today, you have to use "bae". Which is a maimed version of "babe". I'm not making this up.

CJSF
2017-May-09, 08:22 AM
For your information: in French, "beau" is pronounced without a "w". Just "bo". Like "boyfriend" but without the "yfriend".
That doesn't quite work in English (at least the English I speak), but otherwise there's no real difference between "bow" (like tie a bow) and "bo" (like Little Bo Peep), at least for most USA dialects of English.

CJSF
P.S.
What I mean is, in the English I speak, the vowel sound in "boy" has the o and y intertwined, sounding like in the word oil. You can't hack off the y and keep the o sound the same.

swampyankee
2017-May-09, 09:29 AM
"Beau" rhymes with "bureau" and "eau."

swampyankee
2017-May-09, 09:32 AM
Hey Don, how's you daughter Beaux getting on? Married yet?

Meanwhile: Throat-Warbler-Mangrove.

Beaux? There's more than one?

Nicolas
2017-May-10, 12:08 PM
That doesn't quite work in English (at least the English I speak), but otherwise there's no real difference between "bow" (like tie a bow) and "bo" (like Little Bo Peep), at least for most USA dialects of English.
CJSF
P.S.
What I mean is, in the English I speak, the vowel sound in "boy" has the o and y intertwined, sounding like in the word oil. You can't hack off the y and keep the o sound the same.
It doesn't work in English because it isn't English, but I've got to start somewhere if I don't want to end up with a post like swampyankee's. :) This vowel issue is also very apparent when [stereotypical] English speaking people speak French: they fail to pronounce vowels without "bending" them at the end as is done in English.