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I've been learning the lyrics to the old song, "Mon Amant de Saint-Jean," because my French tutor loves old songs. But would this song be considered just too embarrassing to ever be sung in public these days, since it uses the word "baiser" (in the sense of "kiss", of course) several times? No point learning lyrics I could never sing!

  • There is a ton of french song using the verb "baiser", in the most delicate way. The most famous one will be Johnny Hallyday love song. Imo it's fine, it has a really classy meaning. The noun and verb are used almost every where in poesy, book, song. – xdtTransform Jul 29 at 7:16
  • "Baiser" depend of the context. It will not be embarrassing at all. – Baptiste Gavalda Jul 29 at 13:12
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Trusting to this reference, we see that in this song the word "baiser" is the noun and so it is unmistakeably recognised as such in the song. This word, "baiser", is also a verb and it can be a coarse term only when it is used as a verb; therefore there is not a chance to induce in anyone's mind the slightest hint of the coarse meaning. Someone indulging in such plays on words would not only be deemed to have a naughty mind but as well to be silly. Let's not forget that in French there is no other equivalent for the noun "kiss" than "baiser" when you are talking of kisses on the mouth: the word "bise" and much more so the diminutive "bisou" are improper for that and can be used only for kisses on the cheeks; for kisses on other parts of the body you have to use the noun "baiser", which can also be used when the kiss is on the cheeks. Note that "baiser" is a rather dignified term, much more so than the former two nouns.

  • Il lui donna un long baiser sur la bouche à en perdre haleine.
  • Après un baiser à sa mère elle se retira.

The problem you are raising can only occur when the verb is used and then again only in the company of persons of low morals. In fact you'll find the verb in the whole of the serious literature of the French language and it means strictly "to give a kiss"; you should never fear to use it as seems proper in that context as long as you keep to the company of person who are concerned with literature.

  • Elle baisa la main de sa bienfaitrice et la remercia. (such sentences are to be found in the older literature.)
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    Implying low morals from the usage of the verb is, ah, “old-fashioned”, to say the very least. – Konrad Rudolph Jul 29 at 13:14
  • @KonradRudolph Shouldn't we be concerned with morals any more? Whatever the degradation that took place in that domain there remains solid principles that make the difference between human and animal behaviour and that's morals; why deny a gradation of attitudes in the domain of morals then? If there is no low morals and high morals there are no morals at all; that's obviously not true. I can't explain this shying away from the term, unless by a subconscious motivation to favour a climate of lax morals. – LPH Jul 29 at 17:12
  • Drawing a link between sex and low morals is utterly bigoted. Morality is obviously an important concept (e.g. in the form of the categorical imperative) but “morals”, rather than “morality”, is a term without much usefulness, and almost exclusively used to meddle in affairs of other people without good reason. – Konrad Rudolph Jul 30 at 9:18
  • @KonradRudolph Forcing abusive sexual connotations where they have nothing to do is lecherous. – LPH Jul 30 at 9:21
  • Uh, where does “abusive” come from? Sex is not inherently abusive. And “lecherous” is another one of these words, like “moral”, that’s not as useful as you might think. – Konrad Rudolph Jul 30 at 9:22
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We are talking about this song, right?

The meaning has only shifted for the verb. The noun still has the original meaning of "a kiss".

So it's all fine :D

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