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TELUS (a mobile phone company in Canada) tells guys to put their phones and penises away… all while demonstrating the expression se garder une petite gêne as used in the French of Québec.

Hey, what more could you ask for in a cellphone provider?

TELUS released an advertising campaign on Facebook this month. The ads promoted July as a cellphone manners month — basically, don’t take your phone out at inappropriate moments, like at the restaurant or cinema.

Many of the ads, like the ones that follow, included sexual innuendo capitalising on the whole pulling-your-phone-out / pulling-your-dick-out thing. (I think it’s a thing, isn’t it?)

Click on the images to see the enlarged version.

In the first example, the ad reads:

Avez-vous tendance à vouloir le sortir à table?
Do you have a tendency of wanting to take it out at the table?
Gardez-vous une #petitegêne

The question is literally asking if you have a tendency of wanting to whip out your phone while at the table.

Between the lines, however, is the question of whether or not you whip out what’s between your legs as well.

‘Cos, you know, it’s common knowledge that as soon as guys sit down at the table for supper, they have an uncontrollable desire to pull their penis out.

But the second part, gardez-vous une petite gêne, what does that mean?

We’re being told to not do socially unacceptable stuff and to restrain ourselves, like from wanting to use our phone at inappropriate moments or from wanting to take our penis out.

(Yes, really. This all gets even better below.)

Se garder une petite gêne (and I believe this expression is unused in European French) means to show restraint in public, to show modesty.

So, for example, if a pervert on the bus suddenly took his penis out, you could politely admonish him by saying: Monsieur, gardez-vous une p’tite gêne!

If we pick the expression apart, we get: “to keep a little embarrassment to oneself.” You know, like whipping your dinky out at the table — keep a little embarrassment to yourself and put that thing away.

The TELUS campaign continues with examples of different men who don’t keep a little embarrassment to themselves — they take not only their phone out at inappropriate moments, but their member as well.

In this second ad, we see that TELUS has taken a special moment between two young people in love and turned it into something filthy.

Dude has a tendency of taking his phone slash penis out on the first date:

Je le sors même de mes jeans au premier rendez-vous.
I even take it out of my jeans on the first date.
Gardez-vous une #petitegêne.

Or how about at the restaurant?

In this third ad, I don’t think our lady friend would like it if her date whips his phone slash penis out before the crème brûlée is served and things start getting really hot and sleazy down at the resto.

Espérons qu’il le garde sous la table jusqu’au dessert.
Let’s hope he keeps it under the table until dessert.
Gardez-vous une #petitegêne.

Has the expression gardez-vous une petite gêne been burnt into your memory yet? Good!

In this fourth ad, we’re reminded that juillet est le mois de la courtoisie au cellulaire (July is cellphone manners month), followed by this information about our last licentious slimeball (or is he the same slimeball from the last ad?):

Au cinéma, il ne reste jamais longtemps dans mon bermuda.
At the cinema, it never stays put in my shorts for very long.
Gardez-vous une #petitegêne.

OK, TELUS! I think we’ve understood loud and clear — July is the month for keeping our phones and penises where they belong at inappropriate moments.

Got it, guys? In July,
on se garde une p’tite gêne.

(July ends next week.)

I came across a little sign in a sports equipment store. It says:

Faites votre frais avec ce gilet.

There’s word play going on here… To understand it, you first need to know the expression faire son frais as used in Québec.

One of the advantages of this gilet is that it’s been designed to keep you cool, or frais, when you wear it.

That’s why the author of this sign chose the expression faire son frais to promote it — it allows for wordplay on frais, “cool.”

What does faire son frais mean?

Faire son frais means “to show off” in Québec.

There are two forms to this expression: a masculine form (faire son frais) and a feminine form (faire sa fraîche).

What this sign is telling us is that we can show off by wearing this gilet, with the added meaning conveyed by the word frais that it will keep you cool.

Faites votre frais avec ce gilet.
Show off with this shirt.
(and keep cool)

More examples of faire son frais…

As usual, I went digging around on the web looking for good examples of the expression faire son frais, faire sa fraîche. Here’s what I found. Remember, you can click on all the images to see a larger size.

A Facebook update reads:

Ce chien fait son frais dans une Porsche!

This dog is showing off in a Porsche!

In the image, we see a dog poking its body out the window, showing off as he rides in a Porsche.

On a site called Gros Blogue, I found an article about the best selfie of the year. They displayed images of different selfies taken by celebrities.

For one of the selfies in particular, the caption used the expression faire son frais:

Joseph Gordon-Levitt qui fait son frais dans sa limousine.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt who’s showing off in his limousine.

The smug look on his face says it all… faire son frais!

And the feminine form faire sa fraîche

But what about the feminine form faire sa fraîche? All the examples that follow refer to females (or feminine nouns).

A blog author expresses dislike for the show Tout le monde en parle and has this to say about it:

J’écoute que très rarement l’émission Tout le monde en parle, je suis vraiment pas capable de Guy A. Lepage, Dany Turcotte et de l’espèce de pétasse prétentieuse qui fait sa fraîche avec son vin.

I only watch the show Tout le monde en parle very rarely. I really can’t stand Guy A. Lepage, Dany Turcotte and the pretentious bitch who shows off with her wine.

Side note 1: Do you remember the informal expression pas capab’? If someone says chu pas capab’ de Guy A. Lepage, it means “I can’t stand Guy A. Lepage.” In entry #812, we saw examples of this expression, like: Moi là, l’hiver, pas capab’, which means that the person can’t stand winter.

Side note 2: The verb écouter is used very frequently in Québec to talk about watching a television show. Regarder is also used in Québec, but know that you’ll probably hear écouter used more often: écouter une émission, to watch a show.

In another example, a blog commenter writes a sentence that mentions a sister-in-law showing off with a new coat from France:

La belle-sœur faisait sa fraîche avec son manteau commandé en France (…).

The sister-in-law was showing off with her coat ordered from France.

And in this last example, the author of an article about cars comments on the lack of style of a particular model of Hyundai:

Donc, aussi digne de notre attention fût-elle, cette petite machine n’a jamais fait sa fraîche au chapitre du style.

So, as much as (this car) was worthy of our attention, it’s never stood out (lit., showed off) as far as style goes.

cochon d’Inde

And here you thought I totally forgot about part 2 of our mini-series about the Québécois French word bibitte

Actually, you’re right — I did forget. So let’s look at part 2 right now before I forget again!

In part 1, we saw that bibitte can be used to talk about bugs in Québecois French. If you haven’t read part 1, you can read it now and come back.

In part 1, we saw this example:

J’haïs ça les bibittes!
I hate bugs!

Now here’s part 2. Below are examples pulled from the wonderful world of the world-wide web. (I’ve made minor changes for simplicity.)

In a forum online where users discussed the animal they most feared, one commenter said:

Je truste pas les lapins. J’aime vraiment pas ça pantoute. Les cochons d’Inde pis toutes ces bibittes-là aussi.

I don’t trust rabbits. I really don’t like them one bit. Same goes for guinea pigs and all those kinds of critters.

Not only does the commenter dislike those bibittes, he doesn’t even trust them, il les « truste » pas (from the informal borrowed-from-English verb truster, which sounds like troster).

On a different site, a blog author had this to say about chickens:

Même si les poulets sont assez sédentaires, ça vole ces bibittes-là!

Even if chickens mostly just sit around all the time, those creatures can fly!

OK, so we’ve got one person who used bibitte to talk about rabbits and guinea pigs, and another who used it to talk about chickens. Let’s keep going.

This next blog author talks about the time she and her boyfriend made a discovery in the trunk of their old Buick 77 left parked in a barn:

Rendu chez ses parents à Thetford, il ouvre son coffre… ça couinait! Mon chum qui déteste ces bibittes-là, je prends des gants et commence la fouille […].

Once he got to his parents place in Thetford, he opened the trunk… something was squealing in it! My boyfriend hates those kinds of critters, so I grabbed some gloves and began searching (in the trunk).

The author goes on to explain that she found four squealing baby mice in the trunk of the car.

The author called the trunk le coffre. You’ll also hear francophones in Québec call the trunk of a car la valise.

There’s also a Wiktionnaire entry dedicated to bibitte. An example there reads:

– Viens-tu, on va aller voir les serpents!
– Ouh! Non, j’aime pas tellement ça, moi, ces bibittes-là.

– Come on, let’s go see the snakes!
– Ooh no, I don’t really like those things.

Rabbits, guinea pigs, chickens, mice, snakes… What does the Usito dictionary from Québec make of all this?

In entry number 2 under bibitte, it says:

BIBITE ou BIBITTE, n.f.
2. Petite bête, souvent sauvage.

“A small creature, often wild.”

So now you can add this second use to your knowledge of the word bibitte:

2. Critters (and other beasts), often wild, often small and furry… but not always!

1. Bugs!

Perhaps you’ve heard of Mai Duong in the news. She’s a 34-year-old Montréal woman suffering from leukemia who needs a bone marrow transplant to save her life.

She’s in desperate need of a compatible stem cell donor from her Vietnamese ethnic background.

Héma-Québec says they lack donations from all non-Caucasian ethnicities. Mai needs people of Vietnamese origin to get tested. At the end of this post is a description of how you can help. Let’s hope a match will be found.

An update from the Save Mai Duong Facebook page appeared in my feed today. In it, we learn that Mai’s situation was discussed on Salut, Bonjour! here.

According to Save Mai Duong, Salut, Bonjour! did a good job — even if they did get Mai’s name wrong.

À part scrapper le nom de Mai complètement, Salut Bonjour a fait une pas pire de belle job.

Other than totally messing up Mai’s name, Salut, Bonjour! did a pretty nice job.

Salut, Bonjour! did a pas pire de belle job, and so did the author of the Facebook update — we’ve got some pas pire de bons exemples of Québécois French.

scrapper quelque chose
to mess something up

scrapper le nom de Mai
to mess up Mai’s name

also:

scrapper son char
to total one’s car
(wreck in an accident)

une job
a job

pas pire
not bad

faire une pas pire de belle job
to do a pretty nice job

Here’s how you can help Mai Duong

This is taken from the Save Mai Duong Facebook page:

Mai has cancer. The dirty kind that comes back. She needs brand new Vietnamese stem cells to stay alive. We need ppl of Vietnamese origin to get swabbed!

Mai Duong is a 34-year-old from Montreal who’s battling acute leukemia. For the second time, because life’s a bitch. She desperately needs a Vietnamese stem cell donor in order to save her life.

If you’re in Quebec, you can sign up for a swabbing kit here:

English
http://www.hema-quebec.qc.ca/cellules-souches/donneur/index.en.html

French
http://www.hema-quebec.qc.ca/cellules-souches/donneur/index.fr.html

In the rest of Canada, you can sign up here: http://www.blood.ca/CentreApps/Internet/UW_V502_MainEngine.nsf/page/onematch?OpenDocument&CloseMenu

In the US, sign up here: http://bethematch.org/

En France, veuillez vous inscrire sur: http://www.dondemoelleosseuse.fr/devenir-donneur

In Germany: http://www.zkrd.de/

If you have questions, contact Save Mai Duong.

On her Facebook page, singer Lisa LeBlanc recently posted the update in the first image related to the show on the plaines d’Abraham in Québec. You can click on all the images in this post to see a larger version.

Remember, Lisa LeBlanc was born in New Brunswick, in a place called Rosaireville. She was born in 1990.

The French in this entry is how Lisa LeBlanc uses it as a francophone from New Brunswick, not Québec. More specifically, this variety of language is called Chiac.

In her update, she comments on the size of the stage:

Si jamais tu veux faire ton jogging, t’as juste à courir d’un boute à l’autre du stage des plaines une couple de fois pi tu seras all good. #cecittecesthuge

If you ever wanna go jogging, you just have to run a couple times from one end of the stage to the other on the Plains and you’re all good. #itshuge

Learn the expression si jamais. This is used all time. It means “if ever.” Si jamais tu veux parler, je suis là. Si jamais t’as besoin d’aide, appelle-moi.

Lisa didn’t write bout, she wrote boute. This pronunciation of bout is something you’ll hear often in colloquial French. Courir d’un boute à l’autre du stage.

She called the stage le stage, which is pronounced like its English equivalent. Note that if you pronounce stage as a French word, it refers to on-the-job training offered by educational institutions.

Une couple de fois? A couple times! This expression isn’t borrowed from English, despite appearances. It’s the other way round: English got the expression from French. You’ll hear couple pronounced colloquially as coupe.

What about the hashtag? If we pull it apart, we get cecitte, c’est huge. Cecitte means “this,” like ceci. (Compare to ici and icitte.)

Lisa uses two more borrowings from English: c’est huge and tu seras all good. Both huge and all good are pronounced like their English equivalents.

I wanted to take another look at Lisa’s use of cecitte, so I did a search on Google for examples.

In the results, I came across more examples of cecitte from none other than Lisa LeBlanc herself!

In the second image, Lisa writes:

Well, cecitte, ça vient de blower ma mind.

Well, this just blew my mind.

You gotta love Lisa’s French!

Apart from another example of cecitte, we’ve also got blower ma mind.

La mind is pronounced like its English equivalent, and so is blower but then transformed into an -er verb (sounds like blow + é).

Hold on, we’re not done…

Here’s one more example from Lisa where she uses cecitte again, this time in a tweet:

Trouver cecitte. Être vraiment contente. YES.

Finding this. Being really happy. YES.

Lisa has written this tweet in a style typical of the updates on Facebook and Twitter.

It’s not unusual to hear francophones say YES! when happy about something.

Apprendre le français de Rosaireville sur OffQc. YES!

I like Lisa LeBlanc’s profile description on Twitter (@lisaleblancyo):

J’fais du Folk-Trash, j’viens d’un village de 40 personnes pi j’u tannée de chanter des chansons fi-filles.

I do trash folk, I come from a village of 40 people an’ I’m sick of singing girly-girl songs.

Le folk-trash is what Lisa LeBlanc calls her musical genre. Her music is folk, but the lyrics are bolder and… trashier.

For example, her song called Câlisse-moi là means “Fucking dump me,” and the one called Ma vie, c’est de la marde means “My life is shitty.”

We’ve seen hundreds of times on OffQc that pis is very frequently used as a synonym of et. Pis is a contraction of puis. It’s pronounced pi, and that’s exactly how Lisa LeBlanc has chosen to spell it here.

Unlike et though, pis is an informal usage only. We can say pis is just as informal sounding (and just as normal sounding) as English’s “and” contracted to “an’.”

What’s that j’u in there? It means je suis. We’ve also seen many, many times on OffQc how je suis can contract informally to j’suis, which sounds like chu or chui. Lisa LeBlanc has chosen to spell it as j’u here, but it sounds like chu.

Do you wonder where the ch sound in chu comes from? When je suis contracts to j’suis, the j’s is pronounced ch.

The informally contracted j’s always sounds like ch, which is also why je sais contracted to j’sais sounds like ché.

Every self-respecting learner of Québécois French must master the expression être tanné de! It means “to be fed up with,” “to be tired of,” “to be sick of,” “to have had enough of.”

The expression être tanné de can be followed by a noun or a verb: Chu tannée de chanter des chansons fi-filles. Chu tannée des chansons fi-filles.

Remember that tannée is the feminine form; the masculine form is tanné.

One last word to look at from the description: fi-fille. If Lisa LeBlanc’s music is trash folk or du folk-trash, then it’s definitely not gonna sound all prissy with sappy love songs and shit. I mean, just fuckin’ câlisse-moi là, right?

The fi part of fi-fille is a shortening of fille. If we wanted to translate fi-fille very literally, we’d get gi-girl or gi-girly. Nobody says that in English though, so fi-fille means “prissy,” “girly-girl” or just “girly.”

If you had trouble understanding Lisa LeBlanc’s profile description at the beginning of this post, read it again now:

J’fais du Folk-Trash, j’viens d’un village de 40 personnes pi j’u tannée de chanter des chansons fi-filles.

Now go read or reread all the posts on OffQc related to Lisa LeBlanc or discover her trashy, anti-fi-fille music on her website!

In entry #815, we saw an image of a sign from la SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec) in a bus shelter. The masculine term pouche-pouche was used on that sign, which refers to a spray bottle.

The ad told us we could stay cool this summer by spraying mist on ourselves with a pouche-pouche, or we could head over to the SAQ to make a purchase:

Aspergez-vous de bruine en pouche-pouche ou passez à la SAQ
Spray yourself with mist from a spray bottle or visit the SAQ

If you click on the first image, you’ll see it full-size.

The second image is a new one. It’s another sign from the SAQ on the same theme of keeping cool. The sign reads:

Retournez dans le sous-sol chez vos parents ou passez à la SAQ
Go back to your parents’ basement or visit the SAQ
(i.e., move back into your parents’ basement or visit the SAQ)

The sign is telling us that we can keep cool by moving back into our parents’ basement or that we can visit the SAQ to make a purchase.

The basement of a house, or le sous-sol, is much cooler than the rest of the house. It’s also the place where some not-so-young-anymore people live when they haven’t moved away from home yet…

In addition to le sous-sol, learn the word la cave. The cave of a house is also its basement. It looks like the English word “cave,” but be sure not to pronounce it like that. It’s a French word, so it rhymes with bave.

dans le sous-sol de tes parents
dans la cave de tes parents

in your parents’ basement

In fact, we saw the word cave in the sense of basement in entry #776, where it was used as part of an informal expression unique to Québec:

avoir de l’eau dans la cave
to be wearing pants that are too short
(literally, to have water in the basement)

If you’ve got a flooded basement, you’d roll up the bottom part of your trousers to avoid getting them wet when walking around.

Someone who wears pants that are too short for his legs looks a little like someone who’s got water problems at home in the basement!

Remember, dans la has a tendency of contracting in informal speech. This is sometimes shown in writing as dans’ or dan’. (The la kind of gets swallowed up.) This means you might hear dans la cave de tes parents pronounced as dans’ cave de tes parents. Similarly, the informal expression avoir de l’eau dans la cave can sound like avoir d’l’eau dans cave.

The word cave has another meaning in Québec, but it’s unrelated to basements: it can also mean “stupid,” “idiot.”

Prends-moi pas pour un cave!
I’m not stupid, you know!
(literally, don’t take me for an idiot)

Arrête de faire le cave!
Stop acting like an idiot!

C’est un gros cave.
He’s such an idiot.