Archive for June, 2011

A teenaged girl tells her boyfriend:

Tu comprends pas.

He responds:

Explique-moi d’abord.

This comes from a scene in 30 vies, a TV show on Radio-Canada.

Explique-moi d’abord means the same thing as alors explique-moi. By putting d’abord at the end of his sentence, he’s saying “so” or “then” here.

In other words, he’s saying: “Explain (it) to me, then.”

An informal expression using d’abord that you’ll hear is:

OK d’abord.
OK, then. All right, then.


Quoi, tu veux pas? OK d’abord.
What, you don’t want to (wanna)? All right, then.

For my Spanish-speaking readers, d’abord in these examples means “entonces” in Spanish.

D’abord is pronounced [dabor].

On a final note, the missing ne in these examples (tu comprends pas, tu veux pas) is a feature of informal speech.

[This entry was inspired by the series 30 vies, season 1, episode 43, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 23 March 2011.]

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Olivier, a teenaged boy, comes running down the steps into the living room. His parents are sitting in front of the TV with Olivier’s little brother, Zak. Olivier tells his parents that he’s going to the cinema with his friends.

When Zak hears this, he wants his brother to take him along. Olivier doesn’t want to have to drag his little brother out with him and his friends, though. He tells Zak:

Oublie ça, là! Je te traîne pas avec moi!
Forget it! I’m not dragging you out with me!

Zak, upset, wants his mother to get Olivier to change his mind, so he starts whining. His mother then takes his defence by saying to him:

Mais non, Zak… il dit ça juste pour niaiser.
No, no, Zak… He [Olivier] is just kidding around (by saying that).

She then tells Zak to go get dressed so that he can go out with his older brother. Olivier protests! He’s not going to take his brother out! So he finds the perfect excuse not to: The film is 13 ans et plus, age 13 and over only, and Zak’s not old enough to get in anyway.

That’s when Olivier’s parents decide to come along too, so that Zak can get in with parental supervision. 13 ans et plus — not such a perfect excuse after all…

Just another typical scene from the TV show Les Parent, where nothing ever goes as planned for the characters. And just another example of the verb niaiser that you won’t go long without hearing during informal conversations in Quebec!

[Both quotes from the series Les Parent, “Ado sapiens,” season 3, episode 9, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 8 November 2010.]

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Montreal streets seem so “normal” to me that it isn’t until I visit another city that I see what makes them unique. Here are a few of the things that I think make walking in Montreal streets different to other cities.

1. We don’t walk around in the streets eating or drinking. Seeing someone walk down the street drinking a coffee-to-go is a rare sight.

2. In the city centre, pedestrians frequently cross the street on a red light. If honked at, some bold pedestrians will make a point of not getting out of the way too quickly…

3. When waiting to cross at a red light (if we choose to wait!), we may wait in the street itself and not up on the sidewalk. This is especially true in the city centre.

4. Pedestrians frequently walk slowly on the sidewalks without much regard to the people behind them, who may be trying to get past.

5. A person ahead of you walking through a door isn’t terribly likely to hold the door open for you. (Although this seems to be changing… Am I just imagining things?)

6. You can make eye contact with strangers and passers-by on the streets and nobody will growl at you because of it, which leads to #7…

7. It’s fairly easy to strike up conversations with strangers in the street.

Agree? Disagree? Anything to add?

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Autoévaluation (#218)

Que diriez-vous en français dans les situations suivantes?

  1. You’re at the bank machine. You realise that you don’t remember your PIN.
  2. You’re furious about something that a friend has done, and you tell him that you’ve had it up to your ears.
  3. You tell a friend that what they’re saying is nonsense.
  4. Using the 24-hour clock, a receptionist tells you to come back on Monday at 2 p.m.
  5. You say that you’ve locked the door.

Possible answers

1. J’ai oublié mon NIP…
2. Là là, j’en ai jusque là!
3. Tu dis n’importe quoi!
4. Revenez lundi à 14 h (quatorze heures).
5. J’ai barré la porte.

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Sa première brosse (#217)

A young boy has gone missing. Panicked, his mother makes some calls. His father, Nick, thinks he might know where his son is, though.

Nick heads over to the arena. Outside, behind the public toilets, Nick finds his son with some of his friends. They’re all drunk, sitting on the ground. His son has a bottle in his arms.

Nick takes his son home, where he starts throwing up into the toilet. His mother is upset. Nick, on the other hand, finds the situation a little comical.

Later, when the vomiting has stopped and their son is asleep, the two parents talk together about what happened. Nick starts the conversation by saying:

Il vient de prendre sa première brosse.

Here, il refers to the young boy, Nick’s son. The expression prendre une brosse is an informal one meaning “to get (really) drunk.” What Nick is saying is that his son just got drunk for the very first time.

This comes from a scene from the police series 19-2 that was broadcast on Radio-Canada. If you’re a regular here, you’ll know that 19-2 provides a lot of inspiration for new entries.

19-2 was in its first season this year. I believe it’s still unknown whether or not there will be a second season. Let’s hope there will be. The series was highly acclaimed in Quebec.

The first season is over, but you can still get caught up on the episodes through tou.tv if you’re viewing from within Canada.

[Above quote said by the character Nick from 19-2, season 1, episode 7, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 16 March 2011.]

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