Imagine you have recently moved to France, and put your darling child in a well-reputed French School. You are expecting your sweet little one to become immersed in French culture, speak French fluently, and well, become French. Well, nothing is more French than that famous “first” swear word of those oh-so-perfect French children: Caca Boudin.
It doesn’t actually mean anything dreadful, except that it is a gros mot (swear word) that every parent kinda shrugs off when they hear their kids say it. Literally, “caca” means excrement and “boudin” which is a blood pudding sausage. Nobody said French kids were original.
Blood pudding sausages make me want to swear, but it’s supposed to be a gourmand delicacy in France, so “Boudin” in itself is not a swear word.
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Now “Caca Boudin” is not a swear word that you will hear any French adult say. We have much better swear words like “merde” (shit), “putain” (fuck or whore), and “ta gueule” (shut up).
The Meaning: What French toddlers are swearing about
In essence, French kids start maternelle (pre-school) in the calendar year they turn 3. For this, they must be potty-trained. So a phrase with “caca” definitely catches their attention.
A few rounds of hearing this from other preschoolers, who themselves have picked it up from an older sibling, and the next thing you know, your little sweet french child is throwing around “caca boudins” into every random conversation.
Maternelle is also when your French 3 year old starts saying stuff like “j’ai le droit de faire ça” (I have the right to do that), and judging others with an “il fait n’importe de quoi ” (he is acting nonsensically) in a very important voice.
The French love to discuss philosophy and debate, so French schools start them young! (As an aside, my 3-year-old was also served the boudin sausage at the school canteen for lunch.)
Other French Pre-schooler swear words
There are of course other gros mots (translates literally to “fat words”), that French preschoolers pick up regularly, that they are discouraged from using.
1) Bébé Cadum
Bébé Cadum is not really a swear word, but a baby brand selling creams and lotions for infants. However, on the French schoolyard, you are not allowed to call someone a bébé cadum, because it means you are calling them a baby.
2) Prout prout
Every kid loves a good farting sound, and in French, that would be prout prout.
This one is a tricky one because dégueulasse means disgusting. However, it is considered a gros mot, and both children and adults are encouraged to use the word dégoutant instead.
4) Pipi crotte
Crotte is the word for dog poo, and you can guess what pipi means 😉
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And what do most French parents do with these “gros mot” instances? Under attack from these little French Revolutionaries, the parents do the same as parents elsewhere: time to pick your battles, and let a few “caca boudins” slide…;)
If you enjoyed that article, you may want to read more about funny things French kids say. Pan pon, anyone? A bientôt!