Louchébem

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Louchébem or loucherbem is Parisian and Lyonnaise butchers' (French boucher) slang, similar to Pig Latin and Verlan. It originated in the mid-19th century and was in common use until the 1950s. Each word is transformed by moving the first consonant to the end; and suffixes such as -ème, -ji, -oc, -muche are added at the end; the letter "L" is placed at the beginning of the new word. Note that spelling often becomes phoneticised.

Louchébem today[edit]

Even today, Louchébem is still well-known and used among those working at point-of-sale in the meat retail industry. Some words have even leaked into common, everyday use by the masses; an example is the word loufoque, meaning unsound of mind.

In 1937 E.C. Bentley used the language as a plot point in his short story, 'The Old-Fashioned Apache'.

Examples[edit]

Here are a few example Louchébem words.

English French Louchébem
slang l'argot largomuche
butcher boucher louchébem
customer client lienclès
coffeehouse café lafécaisse
(don't) understand comprendre (pas) lomprenquès (dans le lap)
woman (lady) femme (dame) lemmefé (lamdé)
blunder gaffe lafgué
boy/waiter garçon larçonguesse
Roma (ethnicity) gitan litjoc
leg (of mutton, etc.) gigot ligogem
insane fou louf; loufoque
pork porc lorpic
mackerel maquereau lacromuche
Sir; Mister; gentleman monsieur lesieurmique
piece morceau lorsomique
on top (of) pardessus lardeuss (lardeussupem)
excuse me?; sorry pardon lardonpem
to talk parler larlépem
manager patron latronpuche
tip pourboire lourboirpem
bag sac lacsé
expensive cher lerche; lerchem (often in the negative, as pas lerchem)
sneakily en douce en loucedé; en loucedoc
wallet portefeuille larfeuille; lortefeuillepem
thief, crook filou loufiah
knife couteau louteaucé

There is another French argot called largonji, which differs from louchébem only in the suffix that is added (-i instead of -em); the term is derived from jargon.[1]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Valdman, Albert (May 2000). "La Langue des faubourgs et des banlieues: de l'argot au français populaire". The French Review (American Association of Teachers of French) 73 (6): 1179–1192. JSTOR 399371. 

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]