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Archive for October, 2011

In this entry, you’ll discover another way that you might hear the verb niaiser used in Quebec French.

On niaise pas avec ça.
Don’t joke around with that.

The expression niaiser avec means “to joke around with” or “to mess around with,” in the sense of not taking something seriously.

For example, imagine someone isn’t taking his health seriously. A friend might tell him that when it comes to health, on niaise pas avec ça.

In a scene from 30 vies, we hear a character say to a young woman:

On rit pas de la santé, ma belle, on niaise pas avec ça.

[Said by a female character in 30 vies, season 2, episode 9, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 26 September 2011.]

In a scene from La Galère, Claude says that she’s not going to pay one of her debts. Her friend Isabelle tells her:

C’est important d’honorer tes dettes, là. Tu peux pas niaiser avec ça.

[Said by the character Isabelle in La Galère, season 4, episode 7, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 24 October 2011.]

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The Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) considers the expression prendre une marche (to take a walk) to be incorrect, at least in writing. So, shhhhhhh, we won’t tell them that Radio-Canada is probably in possession of a transcript that uses this naughty anglicisme.

In a scene from 30 vies, a school teacher named Brigitte says to a teaching colleague on a sunny day:

Beau temps pour prendre une marche!

[Said by Brigitte in 30 vies, season 2, episode 9, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 26 September 2011.]

Right, so, even though I disagree* with the OQLF’s use of the wording exemples fautifs here, you probably will want to avoid using this expression in most forms of careful writing because someone will either tell you that you’ve made a mistake, or it may just sound inappropriate.

Just don’t be surprised if you hear it during an informal conversation…

* Can a language item that’s used and understood by a body of speakers really be called fautif (incorrect) just because it isn’t liked?

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In entry #293, you read about how to improve your accent in French. Here’s a clip in French from Radio-Canada about the Nephila spider. You can use this clip to improve your accent following the steps described in that entry, or you can just use it for listening practice in French.

You’ll find a transcription of the video below. I’ve put in bold a few expressions you may wish to learn if you haven’t already.

If you can’t see the video above, watch it here on YouTube.

C’est la championne des araignées. La Nephila tisse la toile la plus grande et la plus résistante. Sa soie est la plus étudiée par les scientifiques à cause de ses propriétés exceptionnelles de résistance et d’extensibilité. On savait que l’origine des araignées Nephila remontait à plusieurs millions d’années. Mais ce genre d’araignée est encore plus âgée que ce que l’on croyait.

C’est en Mongolie intérieure, une région du nord de la Chine, que les paysans ont trouvé ce fossile de deux virgule cinq (2,5) centimètres — le plus gros fossile d’araignée à avoir été découvert. Baptisé* Nephila Jurassica, il nous arrive directement de l’ère du Jurassique, l’époque des dinosaures, il y a cent soixante-cinq (165) millions d’années. Sa découverte a fait la manchette du National Geographic.

Trouvé dans la roche, le fossile a été préservé de façon exceptionnelle grâce à une couche de cendres volcaniques. En comparant ses traits à une Nephila moderne — la Nephila clavipes —, le paléontologue américain Paul Selden et ses collègues ont observé de grandes similitudes.

Ils ont constaté que sa morphologie est restée pratiquement inchangée jusqu’à aujourd’hui. Sur ses tibias, on retrouve les mêmes poils microscopiques caractéristiques des Nephilas. La longueur de son corps est semblable et correspond à celui d’une femelle. Aujourd’hui, les Nephilas vivent sous les tropiques, ce qui laisse croire aux scientifiques que le climat de la Chine du Nord-Est était beaucoup plus chaud et humide à l’ère du Jurassique qu’il ne l’est maintenant.

Les chercheurs pensent que les Nephilas ont pu survivre jusqu’à aujourd’hui parce qu’elles ont développé une stratégie gagnante — en tissant la meilleure des toiles, capables d’attraper de gros insectes comme des papillons de nuit et des coléoptères.

tisser une toile, to spin a web
remonter à, to go back as far as
faire la manchette, to make the top story
vivre sous les tropiques, to live in the tropics

* baptisé — the p is silent in this word

[Source: Découverte, Radio-Canada. Narrated by Charles Tisseyre.]

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For my lectrices, now you can learn French and how to apply make-up like Lady Gaga at the same time, thanks to Cynthia Dulude’s YouTube channel. Cynthia shares beauty tips in her videos. Her videos are excellent for learning French because she explains what she’s doing as she shows you.

Below is a clip from her channel. Cynthia thanks her fans when she reaches 1000 subscribers on her channel. You’ll find a transcription of what she says below the video.

Oh, by the way, the Lady Gaga video is here.

If you can’t see the video above, watch it here on YouTube.

Yéééé! Merci tout le monde! Je viens de voir que j’ai mille abonnées. J’suis vraiment contente. Je les ai surveillées toute la journée… je voyais 998… 999… et là… 1000… donc je voulais juste vous filmer ma réaction! J’suis vraiment contente. Merci de vous abonner, hein, puis de me regarder. Si vous avez ma chaîne, merci de la partager avec vos amies, et cetera.

Puis moi, je vous le dis, là, vous êtes les meilleures abonnées au monde! J’suis vraiment contente quand vous me laisser des commentaires, là. Je les lis tous. C’est tellement gentil qu’est-ce que vous m’écrivez, là. Soyez pas gênées de me le dire. Moi, je pense qu’on devrait jamais être tanné d’entendre des compliments dans la vie.

Donc, merci, je vous aime vraiment beaucoup, puis dès que j’ai du temps libre, je vous promets que je fais des vidéos. Je passe tous mes temps libres sur vous en premier, là. Vous êtes ma priorité, je vous l’avoue!

Donc merci beaucoup encore, puis c’est ça… je peux juste vous dire merci puis vous embrasser! Fait que merci… bye!

j’suis, sounds like chui
puis,
pronounced informally throughout the video as pis
fait que,
alors in French, “so” in English

Merci Cynthia de m’avoir donné la permission de publier sur mon blogue cette transcription. Thank you John for pointing me to this YouTube channel.

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Improving your accent is hard work, but it’s not impossible if you’re a motivated learner. (If you’re a reader of this blog, that’s you!)

Here’s one way to improve your accent in French:

1. Find a short clip of audio in French. Something from about one to three minutes long is good. Ideally, the clip should feature just one speaker who talks in a reasonably steady flow of language. You can use most of the videos in the Listen section of this blog for this. Pick something that you understand fully (or that you can bring yourself to understand fully). Make sure you understand the content of the clip before going on.

2. Listen to the clip several times. The number of times you do this is up to you, but don’t do it just once. I suggest you do this so that the content of the clip becomes very familiar to you; you’ll begin to anticipate what the speaker says next. The less you have to worry about content, the more you can focus on sounds in the following steps. If you’ve got a transcript, you can refer to it at this stage to make sure you understand everything you hear.

3. Play the clip again, this time repeating what the speaker says as he says it. (If you’ve got a transcript, stop referring to it now.) The first time you do this, you’ll find it difficult to keep up. That’s OK. You’ll improve with each attempt. Keep doing this as many times as necessary until you reach a point where you’re able to keep up with the speaker relatively well. You’ll probably need to do this quite a few times.

4. When you’ve reached this point, you can start using the clip to improve your accent. Play the clip again and repeat what the speaker says as he says it. As you speak, listen to the way your French sounds against the speaker’s. Are you using the same intonation? Are your vowel sounds the same? Are you mispronouncing any words?

5. Make whatever corrections are necessary to your French accent in your subsequent “listen and repeat” attempts. Move on to a new clip when you feel that you’ve mastered the current one.

This exercise can be very difficult! It’s not easy to keep up with another speaker’s words, especially if the speaker talks quickly. If you’re having lots of trouble, pick a slower speaker.

When it comes to improving your accent, don’t get discouraged if the results aren’t coming fast enough. Work at it every day, but be realistic in your goals. It takes time.

If you use a different strategy for improving your accent, feel free to share it in the comments section.

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This entry will show you how to thank someone or offer an apology in French for something that’s taken place within the past few hours.

Imagine you’re having an argument with someone. During the argument, a good friend takes your side and defends you. You appreciate what your friend has done.

A few hours later, you bump into your friend — you want to thank him for what he did earlier on. In a situation like this, you could say in French:

Merci pour tantôt.
Thanks for earlier on.

The pour tantôt part means “for earlier on.” Merci pour tantôt is a way of thanking someone for something that’s occurred within the past few hours. An apology can be given using pour tantôt as well:

Désolé pour tantôt.
Sorry about earlier on.

While on the topic of tantôt, you’ll also want to learn this expression used frequently in Quebec:

À tantôt!
See you shortly!

[This entry was inspired by the character Annie-Jade in 30 vies, season 2, episode 8, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 22 September 2011. She used the expression merci pour tantôt.]

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The young Zak, from the series Les Parent, has invited a friend over to the house. (His friend is a girl.) In one scene, she enters the kitchen with Zak. She tells Zak’s father that girls are smarter than boys — and that her mother has told her so.

Zak’s father tries to reason with her, and his other son Thomas helps him out by providing scientific evidence that what she’s saying isn’t correct or nuanced enough.

She finally leaves the kitchen with Zak, and Thomas and his father are left alone. The father is relieved that Thomas helped him out in that conversation by providing all the scientific proof, so he thanks him:

Merci Thomas.

Thomas answers back:

Quand tu veux.

When Thomas says quand tu veux, he means “anytime” (i.e., “no problem”). You can use the expression quand tu veux like this as well:

Appelle-moi quand tu veux.
You can call me anytime.

This usage described in this entry is not limited to Quebec; you can use it anywhere people speak French.

[This entry was inspired by the characters Louis and Thomas in Les Parent, “Ex-communique ado,” season 4, episode 6, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 17 October 2011.]

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