Louchébem

pig latin

piaf

Louchébem [loo-shuh-behm] 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 phoneticized.

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, English novelist E.C. Bentley used the language as a plot point in his short story, ‘The Old-Fashioned Apache.’

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