I saw a sign today using the verb se ramasser here in Montréal, so let’s review this verb. First things first: pronunciation.

The verb ramasser is pronounced ramâsser. That â sound in there comes close to how “aww” sounds in English. It’s only the second a that’s pronounced “aww,” not the first one.

You may remember that ramasser was included in this list of 50 words using the â sound in Québec but not written with the accented â.



In entry #664, we saw a little sign on a tree that told dog owners to pick up their dog crap from the street. The sign says:

Ramassez, câlisse!
Pick it up, for fuck’s sake!

OK, no, it doesn’t. It just says ramassez! They’re much more polite than me.

In entry #437, the mother in the television show Les Parent is tired of her sons’ messiness.

She uses the verb se ramasser when she says:

Ce que je vous dis souvent aussi c’est de ranger pis de vous ramasser.
What I often also tell you is to tidy up and to pick up after yourselves.

Ranger means “to tidy up.” But se ramasser is “to pick up after oneself.”

If you heard a parent say ramasse-toi to a child, the parent has said “pick up after yourself.”

On se ramasse tous ensemble

The sign that I saw today in Montréal encourages residents of the city to come together and clean up after ourselves in public places (streets, sidewalks, alleys, etc.). The sign says:

On se ramasse tous ensemble
Let’s pick up after ourselves all together

The sign says that we can sign up for the corvée. Une corvée is work carried out in public. The work is voluntary. In the case of this corvée in particular, we’re dealing with une corvée de propreté where residents come together to clean up.

If you live in Montréal, you know that the streets here look pretty nasty after all the snow has melted away in the spring…

A little while back, we saw how the feminine word gosses means “balls” or “nuts” in Québec.

Remember, in France gosses are kids; nothing to do with testicles. In Québec, you won’t want to use gosses to talk about kids — not unless the kids you’re talking about are the ones that guys have between their legs.

An expression you’ll hear sooner or later in Québec using the feminine word gosse is: rien que sur une gosse.

What could this possibly mean?

J’ai sacré mon camp rien que sur une gosse.
I got the hell outta there right away.

Chu parti rien que sur une gosse.
I left really fast, as fast as I could, etc.

rien que sur une gosse
really fast, right away, etc.

When people speak informally, you know that certain sounds tend to get swallowed up.

You may hear the expression pronounced as: rien qu’s’une gosse (rienk sune gosse), or even yien qu’s’une gosse (yienk sune gosse).

OK, that’s not entirely true.

Par exemple does mean “for example” in Québec, but in the example below it doesn’t.

On page 174 of her book Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer (tome 1), Maude Schiltz admits to not drinking enough water between chemotherapy treatments.

She says:

Je ne bois pas assez d’eau. J’essaie, par exemple!

This quote doesn’t seem to make much sense when we translate par exemple as “for example,” does it?

That’s because par exemple means something else here:

Je ne bois pas assez d’eau. J’essaie, par exemple!
I don’t drink enough water. I try, though!

Ha! And you thought you knew what par exemple meant. You can try, the Québécois will always have a little linguistic surprise for you, par exemple! ;-)

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French quote written by: Maude Schiltz, Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer (tome 1), Éditions de Mortagne, Boucherville (Québec), 2013, page 174.

Non, merci. Je suis rassasié. Wouf.

Jude sends me a link about the use of the expression je suis plein to mean feeling full after eating.

The author there talks about how je suis plein is not used in France to describe having a full stomach.

In the case of a woman who says je suis pleine, the French may interpret this as meaning she’s pregnant.

But the author also mentions that je suis plein can indeed be heard in Québec and Belgium in the sense of having a stomach full of food.

That makes je suis plein an expression belgiquébécoise.

So, you’re not going to shock anybody in Québec if you decide to use the expression je suis plein. But if you’d rather avoid it, there are other things you can say that work everywhere French is spoken, like:

j’ai (déjà) assez mangé
j’ai (déjà) trop mangé

je n’en peux plus (or more informally j’en peux plus)

The s in plus is silent. Je n’en peux plus means: “I can’t manage [to eat] more.”

If you use these expressions to refuse the offer of more food, you’ll probably want to soften them with other words to avoid seeming rude:

Ah! C’était vraiment délicieux, mais j’ai déjà trop mangé, merci!

You might also hear someone tell you that it’s possible to say je suis rassasié or je suis repu to say that you’re full. I disagree. These expressions are much too formal to be appropriate during a conversation.

Unless you normally say things in English like: “Wow, that BigMac left me replete” or “More pizza? No, thanks, I’m satiated,” then I’d avoid rassasié and repu during conversations in French.

Does je suis plein come from the English “I am full”? I don’t know. But we should consider these points before rushing to label it an anglicism:

1. If the Belgians also say it, it’s unlikely to come from English;
2. Spanish literally says “I am full” (estoy lleno);
3. Italian also literally says “I am full” (sono pieno).

Although, if you’re Italian, you know that your nonna (grandmother) will never accept the idea that you’re full and you’ll be obligated to keep eating.

Another expression used in Québec when full of food is je suis bourré. It’s the equivalent of “I’m stuffed.”

Remember that je suis very often contracts to chu (or chui) during regular conversations: chu plein, chu bourré.

I saw this sign posted on the side of an apartment building. If you’re looking for an apartment to rent in Montréal, it’s a good idea to learn what everything on this sign means.

appartements à louer
apartments for rent

partially furnished

poêle et réfrigérateur
stove and refrigerator

heating included

eau chaude
hot water included

conciergerie et buanderie sur place
maintenance and laundry room on site

Chauffé doesn’t mean the apartment has heating — all apartments in Montréal have heating because of that thing called winter. Chauffé means the costs associated with heating are included in the amount you’ll pay in rent. You don’t need to pay extra for heating, in other words.

The same goes for eau chaude. It means that you don’t need to pay extra for hot water; it’s included in your rent.

Poêle and réfrigérateur are both masculine words.

The sign uses the word une buanderie, but the laundry room is very often called une salle de lavage.

If semi-meublé on this sign means partially furnished, then meublé means fully furnished. If the apartment isn’t furnished at all, it might say non meublé or nothing at all about furniture.

Le concierge is the person who takes care of the building. For example, if you needed a repair in the apartment, you’d call the concierge.

Not on the sign is the term bureau de location. That’s the rental office. If there’s a bureau de location in the building, that’s where you’ll sign your lease (le bail) and make your rental payments every month.

If an apartment is a (un trois et demie), it’s got 3 rooms + bathroom (½). The number before the half symbol tells how many rooms (not bedrooms!) are in the apartment. Note that a room may be a kitchen, living room or bedroom. The half symbol represents the bathroom. In the case of a 3½, you can expect a bedroom (1), kitchen (1), living room (1) and bathroom (½).

Demie is feminine because the word that’s understood is une pièce (room):

un trois et demie
= un [appartement] trois [pièces] et demie

In entry #753, we saw six different expressions used in Québec containing the words chien or chienne.

One of the expressions we saw in that entry was avoir du chien. Here’s what you read in that post about this expression:

If you’ve “got dog,” it’s because you’re determined. You’ve got personality. You’re a go-getter.

Ces deux jeunes-là ont du chien et réalisent de grandes choses.
Those two young people are go-getters and are doing big things.

Elle a du talent et du chien.
She’s got talent and determination.

In the comments section, RogerDog commented that he had seen a sign in Montréal promoting the comedy M. Peabody et Sherman, and that the expression avoir du chien was used on it.

I came across the sign too, so I took a photo. It says:

Une comédie qui a du chien

The expression works well here because one of the characters is a dog.

There are probably different ways to translate this, but if we want to hint at dogs, maybe we can say:

Une comédie qui a du chien
A comedy with bite

I wonder what the English version really says outside of Québec. Has anybody seen a poster for it?

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By the way, the expression avoir du chien means something different in France. The site linternaute.com defines the French use of avoir du chien as meaning “to be beautiful,” when speaking of a woman.

But it goes on to say that a woman qui a du chien is more than just belle; she also has ce petit truc en plus that makes her completely irresistible.

I ate at a Lebanese restaurant with a friend this week.

We sat at a table near the door. Just as we began to eat, a man entered the restaurant. He approached me and looked at what I had ordered.

Then he asked:

C’est quoi ça?
What’s that?

I told him it was the falafel dish. I didn’t mind the question. I was even glad he asked. I mean, hey, it’s frustrating to see a stranger eat something delicious and not know how to order it yourself.

Then he asked another question:

Est-ce que c’est bon?
Is it good?

I answered him again. As a good Samaritan, I was happy to impart a quick and positive opinion about my falafels to a stranger.

Then he asked:

Combien t’as payé ça?
How much did you pay for it?

I answered him again, but now I was hoping he’d stop asking questions. I was hungry and wanted to eat.

The man had other ideas, though. He wasn’t ready to give up. He wanted more. He wanted to look into my soul:

Pourquoi t’as choisi cette assiette?
Why did you choose this dish?

Shit, man. I don’t know. I ordered it ‘cos I like it. We done yet?

Nope. He had yet another question for me, and it included the expression I most dislike in French:

Est-ce que ça représente un bon rapport qualité-prix?
Does it represent a good quality-to-price ratio?

OK seriously, guy?

Stop playing the journalist, go order the fucking falafels, then come back and tell me what you think.

I think this guy’s watched too many episodes of L’épicerie.

The expression un bon rapport qualité-prix is used frequently in advertising.

On television, you’ll hear it used on shows like L’épicerie, where the hosts compare products to help consumers make informed purchases.

I hear the expression often enough in French that it sickens me. When my inquisitioner used it, I wanted to shove my falafels up his nose. Free of charge. Le meilleur rapport qualité-prix en ville.

In the end, the guy didn’t order falafels. In fact, he didn’t order anything at all. He said thanks, turned around, and walked out the restaurant.

Ah come on, man! Live a little. Go do something wild, like eat a falafel…