How to embarrass yourself in France 101

First lesson: how to insult someone while trying to be extra appreciative.

In French, “merci” means “thank you”. If you want to say something like, “thank you very much”, it is “merci beaucoup”.

Seems simple enough, right?

Well, apparently you have to be careful in your pronunciation. When Americans or other native English speakers pronounce “beaucoup”, it can come out as “beau cul”. Guess what that means? “Beau cul” means “nice ass”.

I have talked to a couple of people who have accidentally said this to shopkeepers or secretaries at schools. They got quite the look. For the lucky ones, the person recognized that they were not native French speakers and explained the difference. The others…well, I guess they just left quite the impression.

Luckily I was warned, but there are no guarantees that I won’t mess this up because, frankly, I can’t hear the difference.

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