Archive for August, 2011

Sylvain Ménard, in the 30 August edition of Métro, writes about former Official Opposition leader Jack Layton, recently deceased:

Comme vous, j’ai regardé les funérailles de Jack Layton à la télé. Une célébration touchante, inspirante et parfois même rigolote. En accord parfait avec ce que fut l’homme. Un bel adieu. Pas sûr par exemple que Stephen Harper a tripé très fort sur le pasteur gai qui présidait la cérémonie…

[Ménard, Sylvain (30 août 2011). « Les vieux malcommodes ». Métro (Montréal), p. 12.]

Ménard has used an informal style in different parts of his article. Reread the last sentence of this quote. Two informal features to draw your attention to:

  • par exemple
  • triper sur (quelque chose)

In English, par exemple does not mean “for example” here. It means “though,” or par contre. This is an informal usage. We can translate pas sûr par exemple que… as “Not sure though that…”

As for triper sur (quelque chose), we can translate this as “to be crazy about” or “to be wild about.” The author suggests that Harper probably wasn’t too crazy about having a gay pastor lead the ceremony. Triper is also spelt tripper.

The entire last sentence means: “Not sure though that Stephen Harper was too crazy about having a gay pastor lead the ceremony.” The author is poking fun at Harper (prime minister of Canada) by suggesting that he’s close-minded.

You may still feel a little unsure about the use of par exemple in the sense of “though.” Here’s another example:

C’est une bonne école, mais c’est cher par exemple.
It’s a good school; it’s expensive though.

Don’t be surprised to hear par exemple pronounced as par exempe. This is a relaxed pronunciation.

An online version of the article by Sylvain Ménard is available here.

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Rémi from the TV series Les Invincibles picks up the phone and calls his friend P.-A. (Pierre-Antoine). P.-A. doesn’t answer, so Rémi leaves a message.

In his message for P.-A., Rémi says:

P.-A., appelle Carlos. Ça presse!

[Said by the character Rémi in Les Invincibles, season 1, episode 1, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 14 September 2005.]

In English: “P.-A., call Carlos. It’s urgent!” (Carlos is a friend of theirs.)

The expression ça presse is an informal way of saying c’est urgent. In the negative, you’ll come across ça presse pas at an informal level, which means “(there’s) no rush.”


Prends ton temps, ça presse pas.
Take your time, no rush.

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Passer sur la rouge (#251)

In an episode from Les Parent, Thomas is getting driving lessons from his father. At one point, he says “to go through a yellow light” with this expression:

passer sur la jaune

You may remember that passer in Quebec is pronounced pâsser, where the â makes an “aww” sound.

The colour jaune is feminine because the word lumière is understood: passer sur la lumière jaune.

Similarly, you may hear “to go through a red (light)” said as:

passer sur la rouge
passer sur la lumière rouge

Of course, if we have passer sur la rouge and passer sur la jaune, then passer sur la verte is also possible.

If you needed to avoid using an informal expression, such as in your writing, you could use passer au feu rouge (jaune, vert) instead.

Je t’ai vu passer sur la rouge. (informal)
Je t’ai vu passer au feu rouge.

[This entry was inspired by the character Thomas in Les Parent, “Virtuellement ami,” season 3, episode 8, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 1 November 2010.]

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Just some random stuff… I could make this list even longer, but I’ll keep it to six items!

1. Alleys. The atmosphere in them is so different to the world going on in the main streets.

2. The Canal de Lachine. I especially like the part that goes from Farine Five Roses to around marché Atwater.

3. Rust. Montreal’s got lots of it. I like rusty old buildings because they have a story to tell. Silo no. 5… majestueux!

4. The Victoria Bridge. Not only is it stunning, but I also like the humming sound that car tires make on it.

5. Lebanese food. Don’t give me poutine; give me shawarma.

6. The sound that the metro trains make as they pull out of a station. (But I guess that will disappear when the new trains come. I like our old trains. I’ll be sad to see them go.)

And you? What do you love about Montreal?

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Quand ça? (#249)

In a scene from 30 vies, social worker Karine finds out that a student named Blaise has had another epileptic attack. She wants to know when it happened. She asks in French:

Quand ça?

Don’t be surprised to hear ça after question words such as quand, qui, comment, où, pourquoi. When speaking informally, this ça can denote surprise or help reinforce the question.


-Je pars en France.
-Quand ça?

-Le magasin est tout près d’ici.
-Où ça?

-Quelqu’un m’a téléphoné.
-Qui ça?

-Je l’ai vu hier.
-Qui ça?

-J’ai vu ton frère.
-Quand ça?

-Il veut nous aider.
-Comment ça?

-Je sais pas.
-Comment ça, tu sais pas?*

* “What do you mean you don’t know?” You can read more examples of comment ça used like this in entry #290.

[This entry was inspired by the character Karine in 30 vies, season 1, episode 51, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 6 April 2011.]

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