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Imagine someone were complaining about a situation. You, unable to do anything about it and frustrated by the person’s complaints, might say to him in English in an indignant tone, “what do you want me to say?”

During a conversation, a guy said an equivalent of this in French to the person with whom he was speaking.

Can you guess how?

Make an attempt, and will look at the answer below. (Clue: More literally, he said the equivalent of “what do you want me to say to you?”)

Rue Sainte-Catherine, à Montréal [février 2016]

Does what you guessed sound something like this?

Qu’est-ce que tu veux que je te dise?

It’s correct, but it’s not quite how he said it. Before we look at how he did say it, let’s look at the expression vouloir que (+ subjunctive) because it’s important to learn.

I want you to leave.
Je veux que tu partes.

I want him to redo it.
Je veux qu’il le refasse.

I want you to be there.
Je veux que tu soies là.

He wants me to learn French.
Il veut que j’apprenne le français.

In sum, to say in French I want you to (verb in infinitive form), you literally say the equivalent of I want that you (verb in subjunctive form).

Let’s go back to our sentence from above.

Qu’est-ce que tu veux que je te dise?

Dise is in the subjunctive.

Remember, though, that this isn’t quite how the guy said it, so let’s look now at how he really did.

In spoken language, je te can contract to j’te. It sounds like ch’te, where the ch sounds like the ch of the French words chaise, choix, tache, etc. To pronounce j’te, then, put the ch sound immediately in front of the word te.

Qu’est-ce que tu veux que j’te dise?

In spoken language, there are times when you might notice that que is omitted. In this case in particular, the guy omitted both instances of que.

Qu’est-ce tu veux j’te dise?

Qu’est-ce on its own without que sounds like quèss, or like kess using an anglicised spelling.

Maybe you’ll remember that the letter d sounds like dz (like the dz sound of the English word lads [i.e., ladz]) when it comes before the French i and u sounds. Dise, then, is in fact pronounced dziz. And maybe you’ll also remember that t sounds like ts (like the ts sound of the English word cats) when it comes before the French i and u sounds. Tu, then, is in fact pronounced tsu.

Using a more phonetic spelling, here’s how what the guy said actually sounds:

Quèss tsu veu ch’te dziz?

And that’s how the guy said it.

*

To read a condensed version of the French language explored in the first 1000 posts of OffQc, you might like to get a copy of 1000: Québécois French.

“I’m gonna check [that] this evening.” A man said an equivalent of this in French. Can you guess how? Make an attempt before reading on.

Square Dorchester, à Montréal [février 2016]

Square Dorchester, à Montréal [février 2016]

Did your attempt sound like the following?

Je vais vérifier ça ce soir.

It’s correct, but it’s not what he said. Let’s look at how he did.

Maybe you know that, in conversational French, ce soir is often said instead as à soir.

Je vais vérifier ça à soir.

And maybe you know also know that vérifier is often said informally as checker.

Je vais checker ça à soir.

Maybe you know too that je vais is often said as j’vas in spoken French, where vas rhymes with pas.

J’vas checker ça à soir.

But did you know that je vais and j’vas might also be said as m’as in conversations? M’as rhymes with pas.

M’as checker ça à soir.

That’s exactly how the man said it.

M’as comes from s’en aller. In the same way that je vais can be conjugated colloquially as je vas (which contracts to j’vas), the first-person conjugation je m’en vais can be conjugated colloquially as je m’en vas (which contracts to j’m’en vas).

Je m’en vas
contracts to j’m’en vas, which
contracts to m’en vas, which
contracts to m’as.

M’as is an informal usage. You’re not required to use it yourself (nobody expects non-native speakers to use it), but do be sure to understand it.

You can stick with je vais when you need to use prescribed French (in French class, in writing, etc.), but you might want to give j’vas a try from time to time to give your French a colloquial feel — when speaking with francophone friends, for example.

You’ll know if and when you can use m’as when you reach a high level of mastery in French.

During a conversation, a man said to another: “I’d have liked to see you.” Can you guess how he said this in French?

Before looking at the answer, let’s back up for a minute.

Maybe you’ll remember a while back we looked at j’haïs ça, meaning I hate it. (J’haïs sounds like ja / i.) More specifically, we looked at the example j’haïs ça, l’hiver, meaning I hate winter.

Ça means it, that here. It’s possible to say just j’haïs l’hiver, but ça is very often included even if the hated thing itself is also mentioned. More literally, j’haïs ça, l’hiver means I hate it, winter or winter, I hate it.

In that same post, we also looked at how ça is also often included with j’aime, such as in j’aime ça, l’hiver. Although it’s possible to say j’aime l’hiver without ça, you’ll typically hear it said in conversational French as j’aime ça, l’hiver.

J’haïs ça, l’hiver.
J’aime ça, l’hiver.
J’haïs ça, la neige.
J’aime ça, la neige.

Knowing this, can you make a new attempt at saying “I’d have liked to see you”?

Here’s how the man said it:

J’aurais aimé ça, te voir.

It’s possible to say j’aurais aimé te voir, but, again, that ça is often included in spoken language.

If you liked this post, you might like the new OffQc guide Entendu au Québec.

I was reminded the other day of a French expression we looked at on OffQc almost one thousand posts ago and haven’t seen since: d’enfer.

In #130, a teenaged character from a tv show said he was going to get an amazing appartment. He said: j’vas avoir un appart d’enfer.

Appart is an informal contraction of appartement. The final t of appart is pronounced. In j’vas (a spoken equivalent of je vais), vas rhymes with pas.

I was reminded of the expression d’enfer when I saw this telephone publicity in a shopping centre: Branchez-vous avec un téléphone d’enfer.

Se brancher means to connect oneself, so, in English, we might say the text from the ad as get connected with an amazing phone, hook up with a hot phone, etc.

There’s also the more literal English expression a hell of, of course, as in a hell of an apartment, a hell of a phone, etc., but this expression is more vulgar than d’enfer and so belongs to a different level of language.

A little while ago, Joyce requested we look at lyrics by Bernard Adamus. So far, we’ve looked at the wording donne-moi-z-en here, and an informal pronunciation of the subject pronoun elle here, both of which were taken from his lyrics.

Let’s look at something new from him:

un vingt dins poches

This is taken from his song Donne-moi-z’en. What does dins mean?

First, dins is pronounced as if it were written dain in French. It rhymes with the French words bain and main. In other words, the ins of dins is the nasalised in sound.

Dins is in fact a contraction. It’s a contraction of dans + les.

un vingt dins poches
= un vingt dans les poches

a twenty(-dollar bill) in her pocket (literally, a twenty in the pockets)

In another song by Bernard Adamus (Arrange-toi avec ça), he uses:

dins chars
dins parcs
dins rues

These mean in the cars, in the parks, in the streets. Dans les chars, dans les parcs, dans les rues.

What if the word after dins begins with a vowel?

dins années 50

In this case, the liaison is heard. The s transfers to the beginning of the next word. So that last example sounds like:

dins z’années 50

The s on the end of dins comes from the s of les. In its uncontracted form, the s of les would also be transferred:

dans les z’années 50

Dins is a spoken, informal usage.

Mohammad asks about a word he heard while watching 19-2. This word is adon. He sent me the dialogue where it occurred. It went like this:

Nick : C’est un adon.
Ben : T’es sûr?
Nick : Fie-toi sur moi. Je sais que c’est poche, mais c’est juste un ostie d’adon.

Adon here means coincidence.

Nick: It’s a coincidence.
Ben: You sure?
Nick: Trust me. I know it sucks, but it’s just a fucking coincidence.

In the dialogue, we’ve got the vulgar word ostie. Note that ostie is followed by de when you’re using it like the English a fucking [noun].

un ostie d’adon (a fucking coincidence)
un ostie de menteur (a fucking liar)
un ostie de bon show (a fucking good show)
une ostie d’arnaque (a fucking scam)
une ostie de folle (a fucking madwoman)
une ostie de grosse mouche (a big fucking fly)

It’s un or une before ostie depending on the gender of the noun. Un menteurun ostie de menteur. Une arnaqueune ostie d’arnaque.

Using adon, the answer to the question in the title is c’est juste un adon. You can hear this sentence pronounced by Cynthia Dulude in this video from the Listen section. In the transcription, you’ll find it in the third paragraph.

Another way adon is used is in the expression être d’adon. Someone who’s friendly, accessible, helpful, easy to get along with, etc., can be said to be d’adon.

Y’est ben d’adon.
He’s really friendly, easy to get along with, etc. (Ben is a reduction of bien. It sounds like bain and means very, really here.)

The newest OffQc guide Entendu au Québec is now available. Read more about it here or buy and download it here in the OffQc store.

I’m happy to put up for sale today a new OffQc guide for you – Entendu au Québec: 99 questions and answers. This guide uses genuine examples of overheard language to challenge and guide you to say things more in line with how native speakers of French from Québec say them spontaneously during conversations.

Buy and download Entendu au Québec here in the OffQc store

To create this guide, I collected 99 short, conversational French sentences highly typical of spoken language. I heard all 99 of these examples of French pronounced during real conversations in Québec.

Your job with this guide is to guess just how the speakers said these sentences in French using context and vocab clues. You’ll then check your answer by comparing it to how the Québécois speakers said it, and read the related language notes to help you understand why they said it that way.

The best way to illustrate how it works is to check out these pages taken from the guide itself. (Click on the pages for larger size.)

Table of contents and introduction


entendu-au-quebec-intr1
entendu-au-quebec-intr2
entendu-au-quebec-intr3

Sample question and answer

entendu-au-quebec-ques1
entendu-au-quebec-repo1

Another sample question

entendu-au-quebec-ques2

I’ll let you check the answer to that one in the book!

In total, there are 99 questions and answers like this.

Given that many of you are learning French in places quite far from Québec with little to no access to French speakers, getting feedback on your French isn’t easy. By attempting a guess in French and then comparing it with how a speaker from French really said it spontaneously in a genuine conversation, you’ll have the opportunity to gauge how close (or how far off!) your French comes to that of the natives.

As I mentioned in the book itself, don’t be concerned if you find that your attempts rarely match how the speakers themselves said it. That’s kind of the point! This guide is meant to help you identify where you might be saying things in ways that don’t sound colloquial or natural in French. The more mistakes you make and catch, the more you’ll learn. So don’t worry about making mistakes when you work through the guide.

If you choose to work through the guide a second time, you’ll find your guesses are much more accurate.

You can buy and download this guide immediately in the OffQc store, along with all the others. (Follow the link below.) It’s in PDF format, and I’m asking $10 Canadian for it. Payment is by credit card or PayPal.

Buy and download Entendu au Québec here in the OffQc store

Bonne lecture!