Header Image

Navigation images

Kisses in digital age

First year uni, freshers’ week. I still remember the flutters in my stomach the first time I received a text message from this cute guy I have just met the previous evening, signed off with “kisses”. A mere hour later, another guy I also met during the same social event, also attaching “kisses” to the end of his email. Surely I cannot suddenly be so popular for everyone to be sending kisses my way?

Kisses by Claire

Ah, the naïveté that was me in my youth, and on getting to know the charming “Latin-Europeans” – mainly French, Italian and Spanish – for the first time.

Little did I know, those kisses were merely equivalent to the air/cheek kisses I’ve been getting in greetings to say hello and goodbye, only in these cases, in written form. Had I received a message from a girl that ended with “kisses”, I probably would have think twice about its significance and not jump onto the “someone-had-a-crush-on-me?” bandwagon. The other shoe dropped when some of my new Latin-European friends, of both genders, concluded their text messages or emails with “kiss kiss”. Aaaahhh…

Embarrassing, right? Oh well, at least for a little while, I felt the thrill of the geeky girl who garnered the attention normally reserved for the homecoming queen ;)

There are kisses, and there are kisses

Written in English, kisses are kisses. Nowadays, thanks to Gossip Girl, xoxo gains traction as the notation for hugs and kisses (how come it is not oxox?) too while xxx no longer strictly apply to a certain industry.

In French, however, showing affection cannot be such straight-forward non-event. There are nuances to recognise between different terms of kisses, accorded based on the level of closeness shown. Words to substitute actions have to convey the right sentiments, thus I got a little lesson courtesy of my friends that I thought I ought to share.

Oddly enough, I’ve not yet come across “love” or “with love” written per se in French, so I often think of the French kisses as equivalent of English love at the end of communication.

La bise/les bises

This is the first mark of interpersonal relationship, and probably the most casual one among all. Sometimes, this may be use as a matter of courtesy (e.g. in an email to a friend of a friend whom I know and see often during various friendly gatherings but not particularly close to, and where writing “cordialement” makes me sound like a complete stuck-up) but often, this is genuine signing off for people whom you will normally faire la bise with in real life.

I’ve also noticed the use of bises in emails/messages meant for a group of people. It’s casual and friendly yet you won’t overstep on the familiarity front lest there be someone among the recipients whom you are still not very close to.

Given we’re talking about kisses in written form in digital age – hey, good old fashion letters can be kissed for real as many a lipstick mark can attest – we all know about the word count constraint in text messaging or Twitter, so biz should do the trick too.

Le bisou/les bisous/les bisoux

As an interpersonal relationship deepens, the sign-off may be upgraded to bisous. This is akin to, if in real life, you would very happily hug and kiss the person when you meet. You are friends, you are close to each other, and you always include each other in group activities because you want to see one another and catch up.

For the younger crowd, a variation of bisoux is also used as sign-off. We’re now entering the BFF realm, people you can call in the middle of the night in case of emergency. The virtual kisses have been given an emphasised smacker at the end. I don’t know many people who use this form of sign-off, but I am very happy that I do get them.

If you come across bizou anywhere, that’s yet another way to say bisou and trying to sound a bit more alternative. That, or it is a typo.

Le baiser/s’embrasser

This is the official dictionary definition of a kiss. However, it is hardly ever used, errrrm, anywhere. It sounds awkward (so formal and uptight), it writes awkward (really, ending email with baisers?), and if used as a verb rather than a noun, it is also vulgar. It is best just to forget about using this to anyone.

If you do want to sound a little more proper/prim but still want to show affection, on one-to-one basis, go with je t’embrasse, or even je t’embrasse très fort to someone you are sending a lot of hugs and kisses to. I never quite accept je vous embrasse for one-on-one communication, because if you are kissing someone, you should stop vouvoiement and move on to tutoiement as well, no?

Le bécot

I don’t even remember where I came across this and I’ve only seen it that one time. Intrigued, like I do with many new words, I did a quick search online and found out that it’s also a kiss! However, the usage is apparently pretty much extinct nowadays. Still, for the sake of completion of this post, I thought I’d include it anyway.

So there you go, kisses you can end your phone calls, text messages, emails, FB messages and tweets with. A final word of warning, you ought to know not to include kisses in formal letters and to complete strangers, right?

Category: Local lingo, Musing

Tagged: , , , , , , , , ,

7 scribbles & notes

  1. Nur says:

    Oooh ooh, I have questions! Can I ask you on twitter?

  2. med says:

    hahaha…XOXO lil

Scribble a note

Notify me!

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.