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If you like Humans of New York, be sure to take a look at Portraits de Montréal. The creators strike up conversations with strangers and post part of the conversation online for us to read, accompanied by a photo.

As I browsed through the images on Facebook, I came across two examples of French that you’ll find useful to learn:

au primaire, (when I was) in primary school
au secondaire, (when I was) in secondary school

A young woman says:

Je me faisais intimider quand j’étais au primaire.
I was bullied when I was in primary school.

If you click on the thumbnail, you can read the entire quote on Facebook.

au-secondaireAnother young woman says:

J’avais des troubles du comportement intenses au secondaire.
I had severe behaviour issues when I was in secondary school.

I often notice learners of French wonder how to talk about their school years in Grade 1, Grade 2, Grade 3, etc.

Learn this third expression: en (première, deuxième…) année.

quand j’étais en quatrième année
when I was in Grade 4

Similarly, if you have Grade 12 where you live, you can say the expression “in Grade 12″ as en douzième année.

Don’t say en grade douze. The word grade does exist in French, of course, but it’s not used to talk about school years.

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Portraits de Montréal on Facebook

Portraits de Montréal official site

Here’s some random French I overheard today in Montréal while out.

All of these examples of French were said by a group of three women in their 60s in the seating area of a public space.

1. Y’a une place icitte.

There’s a place (to sit) here.

Y’a is an informal pronunciation of il y a. Icitte means ici and is often heard at the informal level of language.

2. Amène une chaise.

Bring a chair. Get a chair.

The verb amener is used here to tell someone to bring something. There’s another example of this below.

3. Qu’est-ce tu veux?

What d’you want?

Qu’est-ce sounds like kess. Dropping que here (qu’est-ce tu veux instead of qu’est-ce que tu veux) is an informal usage.

4. Amène-moi un biscuit.

Bring me a cookie.

Here’s another example of the verb amener. The woman who said this yelled it out to her friend who was ordering food.

5. A s’en vient.

She’s coming.

You’ll often hear elle pronounced informally as a, like the a in ma, ta or la. The verb s’en venir is frequently used: je m’en viens, I’m coming; tu t’en viens, you’re coming; y s’en vient, he’s coming; y s’en viennent, they’re coming.

One of the three women said this as her friend was coming back to their table after ordering food.

In Ne touche pas mon bébé, Jonathan Roberge writes about his strong dislike of strangers’ touching his baby in public without his permission.

Jonathan describes a stranger — an elderly woman — who not only kissed his baby on the mouth, but did so without his permission. He says:

Pis là, elle a fait le move qui m’a rendu vraiment inconfortable. Elle lui a donné un bisou… sur la bouche.

An’ then, she did something (made the move) that made me really uncomfortable. She gave him a kiss… on the mouth.

We’ve seen many times that pis (a reduction of puis) is used in the sense of “and” in Québécois French.

What Jonathan has done here though is use it alongside to form a usage that you’ll hear very often in French conversations: pis là.

Pis là is used when recounting events. It means “and then.” First she did this, pis là she did that, pis là she said this, pis là she said that…

Pis là is an informal use. You can try using it to add a natural sound to your spoken French. Francophones use it all the time when speaking colloquially.

[Quote written by Jonathan Roberge in « Ne touche pas mon bébé » on Urbania, 10 October 2014.]

Here’s a sign I saw at the beginning of this past summer (summer 2014) in métro Guy. It’s an ad for an app from the Yellow Pages, les Pages Jaunes.

I took the photo from the other side of the platform, so it’s a little blurry. You can click on it. It says:

Ton linge d’été de 2013 fait tellement… 2013? Il y a 179 boutiques de mode au centre-ville.

Your summer clothes from 2013 are so… 2013? There are 179 fashion boutiques downtown.

Two things to learn from this:

1. The masculine word linge, which means “clothes” in Québec;

2. The expression ça fait tellement 2013, that’s so 2013!

mon linge, my clothes
mon linge d’été, my summer clothes
porter du nouveau linge, to wear new clothes
m’acheter du nouveau linge, to buy myself new clothes

In Québec, you can use the word linge the same way you’ve probably already learned to use vêtements.

Ça fait tellement 2013!
That’s so 2013!

People usually say the year that just ended to be snarky and label something as outdated, often prematurely. I took this photo earlier in 2014, which is why the ad uses 2013.

Now that we’re two months away from the end of 2014, people might even already say ça fait tellement 2014…

Say this sentence:

Puis là, je lui dis que je n’aime pas ça.
So then, I tell him that I do not like that.

If I asked you to transform this sentence into something more colloquial sounding, the way you might hear it said during a regular conversation, could you do it?

Maybe you know that the ne in the negative construction ne… pas generally gets dropped, so we can start with that:

Puis là, je lui dis que j’aime pas ça.

And maybe you also know that puis is almost always pronounced spontaneously as pis (pi) during everyday conversations, so we can change that too:

Pis là, je lui dis que j’aime pas ça.

There’s another thing we can change here to make it sound like something you might hear someone say spontaneously in a conversation. The title of this post gives it away — it has to do with the pronunciation of lui:

Pis là, j’y dis que j’aime pas ça.

Here, lui got pronounced as y (i). You don’t necessarily have to start pronouncing it like this yourself too, but do learn to recognise it.

je lui dis que…, j’y dis que…
je lui donne…, j’y donne…
on lui a dit que…, on y a dit que…

We saw an example of lui pronounced as y in #868: j’ai juste à y flasher ça dans’ face! If we spell everything in full, we get: j’ai juste à lui flasher ça dans la face!

You’d only ever catch lui pronounced as y when it’s put before a verb (either conjugated or in the infinitive form) like in the examples above, as an indirect object pronoun.

Lui wouldn’t be pronounced as y in these examples:

Sans lui, je pense que ça aurait été différent.
Je me suis beaucoup occupée de lui.
Avec lui, je pense que notre équipe ira loin.
Il s’appelle Martin, lui.

Let’s go back to the first example:

Pis là, j’y dis que j’aime pas ça.

Don’t forget that the Québécois pronounce the letter d as dz when it comes before the i sound. So dis sounds like dzi.

If you’ve been listening to lots of spoken French from Québec, then you know just what the vowel sounds like in the words là, pas and ça. If you’re not sure what it sounds like, please go turn your radio on!

Here’s the unmodified sentence from the beginning of this post:

Puis là, je lui dis que je n’aime pas ça.

Can you say it now the way you might happen to hear it said spontaneously during a conversation?

We’ve seen it before: when dans and la come together in colloquial speech, la might lose its L sound leaving us with dans ‘a.

Then, if you say that fast, the remaining ‘a sound just kind of gets swallowed up.

That’s why dans la marde in the expression être dans la marde (to be in shit, trouble) sounds more like dans marde in colloquial speech.

T’es dans’ marde!
(= Tu es dans la marde!)
You’re in shit!
You’re in trouble!
You’re in for it!

I suppose for good style we should include an apostrophe after dans to show that the la was contracted (dans’ marde), but it’s rare in casual writing online to see anybody actually bother.

The same thing can happen with the expression dans la face. It can become dans’ face. Here are some examples from around the Wonderful World Wide Web. I’ll put the apostrophe in for good measure.

Ça fait sept ans que j’ai ça dans’ face.
I’ve had that in my face for seven years.

Essaye de te contrôler avec ça dans’ face 24 heures sur 24.
(You just) try to control yourself with that in your face 24 hours a day.

Maudit internet. Quand on était jeune, câlice, on se disait ça dans’ face.
Damn internet. When we were young, for fuck’s sake, we’d say that to each other’s face.

J’ai juste à y flasher ça dans’ face!
I just have to flash that in his face!

The y here is an informal pronunciation of lui. In full, this sentence would read: j’ai juste à lui flasher ça dans la face.

C’est comme un coup de poing dans’ face.
It’s like a punch in the face.

A friend on Facebook sent me the image below. You can click on it. I’m not sure where the photo was taken, but it doesn’t matter.

There’s a mistake on the sign. Can you understand why the mistake is funny?

The sign should have said:

Piétons, prenez le trottoir d’en face.
Pedestrians, take the other sidewalk.

Here’s a correct example.

D’en face means “on the opposite side.” But say d’en face aloud. It sounds just like dans face, doesn’t it?

Piétons, prenez le trottoir dans face.
Pedestrians, shove the sidewalk in your face!

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Merci Anne-Marie :-D

I watched the first 10 minutes of an episode of 30 vies on tou.tv and picked some French for us to look at.

Each example of French below was said by a character on the show. If you want to find them on the show, the episode details are at the end of the post. After each quote, I’ve included the time where it appeared.

You can watch 30 vies on tou.tv if you’re in Canada.

Là, tu fais ça ou tu disparais de ma vie. C’est-tu clair?
Now you’re gonna do it or you get out of my life. Is that clear?
(0:22)

We’ve been seeing in the last few entries that often means “now.” Here’s another example of it. Here, it means more “now” in the sense of “right so,” as a way of signalling that the other person ought to listen up. The speaker used it to lead into her nasty comment.

We’ve also got c’est-tu clair? in this quote. Remember, the informal tu transforms c’est clair into a yes-no question. C’est clair. C’est-tu clair?

The question c’est-tu clair? here is really a warning. It’s like asking “is that understood?” in an authoritative way.

– Ça parle de toi en masse.
– Qui ça?
— People are totally talking about you.
— Who?
(6:55)

A student at school told his classmate: ça parle de toi en masse. The subject ça here just means “people” or “they.” It’s like the subject on. The expression en masse means something like “big time” or “totally.”

Notice that his classmate responded with qui ça? to ask who. You’ll also hear people say où ça? to ask where, for example: –Viens-tu avec moi? –Où ça?

J’en peux p’us. J’sus à boutte!
I can’t take it anymore. I’ve had it!
(7:53)

J’en peux p’us is a shortened, colloquial way of saying je n’en peux plus. Plus here is pronounced plu, but sometimes plus gets shortened to the pronunciation pu, which I’ve spelled above as p’us. It’s because the L dropped.

J’sus (pronounced chu) means je suis. J’sus à boutte literally means “I’m at the end,” because boutte means bout, but its figurative meaning is “I’ve had it.” You’ll notice that bout is sometimes pronounced boutte in Québec, especially in informal expressions like the one here; être à boutte, to have had it, to be fed up.

The character who said j’sus à boutte didn’t pronounce it as chu à boutte though. She pronounced it instead as chtàboutte. She shortened chu to ch and slipped in a T sound between ch and à (ch-t-à boutte).

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Quotes taken from:
30 vies, saison 5, épisode 24
16 octobre 2014, Radio-Canada