The other day I was having a phone conversation about having faux bricks on my living room wall, and mispronounced “faux”, phonetically pronouncing it with the au and x. I was corrected with — it is pronounced foo (where you here the f and the long oo), and I will admit, I do mispronounce words. I was taught phonics in school and I continue to go by the rules. So, I got to thinking about the word. Faux is French, a shortened version of faux pas, which is pronounced foo pass, in the American language, and the original meaning is a misstep in ballet.
Today, faux pas is shortened to faux and means fake or imitation. The one-word faux hasn’t been around that long in the American language but faux with other words have been around the English language since the 1600s. The single word — faux — originates from the 1980s, so I am cleared of that blunder, or what is the equivalent of today’s French meaning of faux pas as being a social blunder.
I also learned something about that -aux pronunciation. Or so I think I have learned. Of course, I am sure there are exceptions to what I think I know or have learned. I looked at words that started with aux-, such as auxiliary or auxotroph, and then the -aux is pronounced how I would phonetically pronounce it — as au and the x — auxiliary.
Now, put the -aux behind a letter or letters, and the aux is pronounced as the long oo — faux, beaux (that’s plural for beau and both are pronounced the same — as boo — long oo –, to which is not to be confused with boo!, the ew you hear when you want to scare someone — boo!), or maybe there is a little Bordeaux with dinner tonight. Bordeaux, that southwestern French region that produces the wonderful wine with its same name, and the aux is pronounced with that long oo.
While I am on this subject, let’s back up to auxotroph — finally, the -aux is pronounced phonetically, au and x. So, continue with the word and the troph is pronounced traf. That famouns ph pronounced as f.
There is phone, phooey, and phew! (all ph es pronounced as an f). Some people think that phew also means that unpleasant odor. Nope. That is spelled pew and you hear the p with ew, rhymes with few, where the word can mean a long bench in church as well as an unpleasant odor — but then, we Americans just might say p u (pee- ew — stinky) but if you put a forward slash between the p and u p/u simply means to pick up.
What do I say about all this — only one word comes to mind — Phew! this is a relief. Or — is it Whew!!! Oh, nevermind. Our words have so many different meanings, our words are pronounced different ways, and now someone has told me about Spanglish and Franglish. It’s never ending…. I am sure I will be corrected my entire life….
Until next time…have a great day…