Oh ho ho ho!? Porquoi?
February 9, 2017 9:51 AM   Subscribe

There is a stereotypical French expression which seems universal in the USA: "Oh ho ho ho!" It's always said with a semi-nasal vocalization, almost "ohn" and "haw". Is this a real thing?

1. Does any actual French person ever say this, or has anyone ever said this?
2. Where does it come from? I don't think it's Pepe Le Pew; is it some other stereotypical French character?
posted by Huffy Puffy to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Maurice Chevalier?
posted by slkinsey at 9:57 AM on February 9 [4 favorites]


Hon hon hon
posted by theodolite at 10:00 AM on February 9 [4 favorites]


Also heard in the UK, but only from an English person doing an OTT French impression.
posted by mushhushshu at 10:00 AM on February 9 [1 favorite]


Maurice Chevalier's signature French laugh.
posted by vunder at 10:00 AM on February 9 [5 favorites]


This is a stereotype dear to my heart. I think it may have come from Quebecois loggers of the 17 and 18th centuries. And the sound is a gruff n' hearty "honh honh honh"; not actually pronouncing the "n" but implying it.

Upon review, I'll give it to the M. Chevalier voters.
posted by BostonTerrier at 10:02 AM on February 9


"We all talk like Maurice Chevalier - hon hon hon"
posted by ManInSuit at 10:03 AM on February 9 [10 favorites]


Reviving it for my generation: les poissons les poissons, hee hee hee hon hon hon.

And Maurice Chevalier is name dropped at the beginning of the scene.
posted by phunniemee at 10:19 AM on February 9 [22 favorites]


Here's the spot in the 1933 Mickey Mouse short film with Maurice Chevalier that is referenced in the tvtropes piece linked by vunder. It's a short "hon hon."

But the "History of the World, Part I" Mel Brooks clip (vintage 1981) linked by ManInSuit has the longer "hon hon honnn" that sounds more immediately like the stereotypical noises you describe, at least to me. Probably a generational thing as mentioned by phunniemee.
posted by exogenous at 10:42 AM on February 9 [4 favorites]


Anecdotal from a Canadian who went through French Immersion up to grade 10, but all my teachers, most of whom were Quebecois originally, laughed like this. Our joking impressions of it were more "Ron Hon Hon".
posted by mannequito at 12:06 PM on February 9 [2 favorites]


Seconding phunniemee that it's the Chef from the Disney Little Mermaid (himself a Chevalier reference) for a lot of us of a certain age.
posted by augustimagination at 1:51 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]



Hon hon hon
posted by theodolite at 10:00 AM on February 9 [3 favorites +] [!]


This did NOT have it origin in 2005.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:11 PM on February 9 [3 favorites]


To answer the first question: French culture has undergone quite a few changes since Maurice Chevalier, and nowadays no one says this (including as a joke).

I suppose French laughter could sound like that to unpracticed ears? It doesn't at all to mine.
posted by fraula at 2:26 PM on February 9 [1 favorite]


It didn't originate with Pepe, but he says it:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=_wRfikO99qo
posted by Ideefixe at 2:56 PM on February 9


augustimagination: "Seconding phunniemee that it's the Chef from the Disney Little Mermaid (himself a Chevalier reference) for a lot of us of a certain age."

Which, by the way, was Odo.
posted by WCityMike at 3:27 PM on February 9


You mean Rene Auberjonois?
posted by ocherdraco at 3:36 PM on February 9


I've hit up YouTube for clips and songs of Maurice Chevalier. He laughs quite a bit, but so far it's usually a "regular" laugh, "heh heh" or so. The closest I've gotten is at 1:54 and 2:55 in this recording of "Louise".

I suspect it's from his stage show and/or a movie, which probably means all we have left is the imitation. But at least we know who they're imitating.
posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:07 AM on February 10


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