|Daft Punk: I really don't think these guys will mind either way.|
(photo by Juicy Rai)
Adverb. Early 17th century.
[French & Italian, from Latin bis twice.]
Encore; again; twice; specifically as a direction in a musical score indicating that a passage is to be repeated.
Or so I've always been lead to believe; that it's one of those peculiar quirks of English's linguistic promiscuity, adopting a French word that sounds cultured and cosmopolitan, whereas to French ears encore used in this sense sounds distinctly odd. And authoritative references back this up: bis is defined as encore after all, and the OED's entry for encore plainly states that, in French, it is not used in the English sense.
These things are fickle, however, and I've had more than one Frenchman protest that they do indeed say "Encore!" when they want a bis, together with "Une autre!" when they want an encore, which is all frightfully confusing. If you want the advice of someone that doesn't speak French and has never been to a classical concert in France, then I would suggest just going along with the crowd (unless they're rioting, of course). And really, if a thousand people are chanting "Bis! Bis! Bis!" and one lone voice lets slip an encore, is anyone going to notice, let alone mind?
Or maybe they will. I don't know. This is France, after all. I think I might just go and see Daft Punk instead. Good luck, mes amis.
Can you shed any light on the French use of bis?
What do you call at the end of the performance when you want an encore?
Do please tell below.