Monday, October 01, 2007

Bon Appetité?

The break room at my company has recently been decorated with some new art, including this print.

What is "Bon Appetité"? I asked our human resources manager, who speaks French and actually ordered the art, and she had no answers other than, "Maybe it's Italian?" (to which I responded that the Italian word is buon) followed by an unsatisfying, "Huh, maybe it's just wrong."

I tried Googling the phrase and came up with nothing other than the link to the print itself and a few sites where it looks like a typographical error. Is it legitimate French? Or some other language? Or is it, in fact, "just wrong"? It seems like an odd mistake to make, with the accent and all.


MuPu said...

"Bon Appetité" would be wrong, but I'm not so sure that that's what it says.

The accent aigu appears to be floating just beyond the end of the word, suggesting that its placement is a matter of artistic license.

This is often done in Arabic calligraphy; diacritical marks are scattered about for symmetry or whatever, and it takes the trained eye of a native speaker to tell which marks belong to which letters.

Nah. It's just wrong.

Language Lover said...

Interesting about the Arabic calligraphy. I'm also quite incapable of recognizing Mandarin characters when they're written artistically or sloppily.

And "Bon Appetite" with or without the accent is wrong, isn't it? This is bugging me so much I emailed the artist last night asking politely for an explanation. If I get a response, I'll post it here.

MuPu said...

You're right. It's "bon appétit."

I think we Americans have somehow gotten into the habit of pronouncing the word's final t — which could explain why it's often misspelled with a final e.

Of course, if there were a final e, then the expression would have to be "bonne appétite."

It will be interesting to see what the artiste has to say about it. It could be some sort of play on words or something.

MuPu said...

I’m beginning to suspect that our artist has a spelling problem. I think he meant “Java Colombia” here.

Language Lover said...

Oh, dear, I think you're right. This probably means the "Bon Appetité" is a true error, which is a shame.

I'm embarrassed to realize that I, too, have been guilty of pronouncing the final "t" in "Bon Appétit"; having never studied French formally, I sometimes forget its rules. Never again! I am aware of the rule that placing an "e" after a final consonant leads to that consonant being pronounced, though I doubt our artist is. I'm still waiting for a response to my email...

Nicolette said...


I am French. I don't know "Bon appetité" but "bon appétit" and it means "Enjoy your meal!".