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Archive for December, 2010

Informal French: DU STOCK (#99)

In Les Parent, Louis plays the role of the father. In one scene, Louis is helping his teenaged son with his homework, but his son is having trouble doing it.

Louis doesn’t see why his son doesn’t understand his homework because he thinks it’s below his son’s grade level. That’s when Louis gets frustrated. He tells his son that what they’re working on is du stock de troisième année.

Du stock here is informal French for “stuff.” This was Louis’ way of saying that his son’s homework is “Grade 3 stuff.” In other words, he thinks his son shouldn’t be having any trouble with his homework whatsoever!

[This entry was inspired by the character Louis in Les Parent, “Le retour,” season 1, episode 2, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 15 September 2008.]

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There are many ways to call someone an idiot in French, but let’s just stick to the way that uses the word cave here.

Examples:

Hé, le cave!
Hey, idiot!

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

Cave can also be used as an adjective.

Example:

Mais t’es donc* ben cave!
You’re so stupid!

*The c is silent here.

The expression faire le cave means “to act like an idiot.”

Examples:

Fais pas le cave, toi!
Arrête de faire le cave!

Interestingly, the French adjective cave comes from the Latin cavus, meaning “hollow.” Pretty much describes an idiot’s head, doesn’t it?

[This entry was inspired by the character Sarah in Mauvais karma, “Ça fait désordre,” season 1, episode 1, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 8 September 2010. Here, she called a male character gros cave to his face.]

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In a scene from Les Parent, Louis is talking to his wife. He’s telling her about his sons, who’ve asked him for money. What did the boys want money for?

Pour aller s’acheter des cochonneries au dépanneur!
To go buy junk food at the variety store, or the “dep”!

Une cochonnerie is a junk food item. Chips, chocolate bars, bubble gum — they’re all cochonneries. The root of this word is cochon: pig!

Le dépanneur is where people in Quebec buy their cochonneries. It’s a variety store or corner shop.

The dépanneur is also where people buy newspapers, magazines, cigarettes, beer, wine, lottery tickets and certain food items like bread, milk and butter.

[This entry was inspired by the character Louis in Les Parent, “Le retour,” season 1, episode 2, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 15 September 2008.]

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If someone says c’est plate in French, you can be pretty sure the speaker isn’t enjoying himself very much!

Examples:

C’est plate!
How boring! I’m bored!

C’est plate ici.
It’s boring here.

C’est plate ce soir.
It’s boring this evening.
What a boring evening.

You may also come across the spelling platte.

Sometimes the expression c’est plate can take on a different meaning.

Example:

C’est plate à dire, mais…
I hate to say it, but…
It’s not nice to say, but…

[This entry was inspired by the character Zak in Les Parent, “Étude de moeurs,” season 1, episode 1, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 8 September 2008. Zak is a young boy; he often uses the word plate.]

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In a moment of disbelief or disapproval, you’ll sometimes hear French speakers exclaim ben, là! It’s similar to how English speakers might say “oh, come on!” or “what???”

Usually the part gets more stress than the ben part.

Examples:

-J’suis pas capable!
-Ben, là!
(Oh, come on!)

-J’ai dépensé 300 dollars.
-Ben, là!
(What???)

-Va ranger ta chambre tout de suite!
-Ben, làààà!
(Nooo! I don’t want to!)

[This entry was inspired by the character Louis in Les Parent, “Étude de moeurs,” season 1, episode 1, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 8 September 2008.]

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