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Archive for December, 2011

Simple coup du destin (#372)

For those of you who enjoy a little twist.

Some vocab (without giving too much away):

dossier, dans ton crisse de quartier, tu l’as mis où ton char, pogner un ticket, sous le choc, ostie, se tromper, câlisse, arrête de niaiser, tu me fais capoter, tu me niaises pas, crisse de malade

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Je pense pas ça du tout! (#371)

Here’s another bit of conversation from 30 vies. The conversation takes place between Ariane and a male character whose name I don’t remember and can’t seem to find (sorry). Let’s just call him Guy.

Ariane and Guy have been arguing. Both think that they’re right and that the other is wrong.

Later on in the episode, Guy find out that Ariane was right. Now he feels bad about having argued with her:

G — T’as le droit de le penser.
A — Quoi?
G — Mais que cht-un trou d’cul fini!
A — Mais je pense pas ça du tout, au contraire!

In English:

G — You’ve got the right to think it.
A — (Think) what?
G — Well, that I’m a total asshole!
A — But I don’t think that at all, on the contrary!

I think the only two part you might have trouble understanding is:

cht-un trou d’cul fini
= je suis un trou de cul fini

Guy pronounced je suis un as chtun. It’s an informal pronunciation.

The adjective fini, it means “complete” or “total” (i.e., “finished” in the sense of perfect).

The final l in cul is not pronounced. It sounds like cu.

[The conversation above comes from 30 vies, season 2, episode 47, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 30 November 2011.]

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Juste correct? (#370)

Gabrielle, a teacher in the television series 30 vies, asks a student how her project is going.

The student doesn’t seem to want to talk, so she only gives a short answer.

Here’s how the conversation went:

— Comment ça se passe, le projet?
— Correct.
— Juste correct?
— Correct.

Correct in this conversation is the equivalent of “fine.” You’ll probably hear it pronounced informally as correc.

Do you remember the â sound? You’ll hear it in the verb passer.

[The conversation above comes from 30 vies, season 2, episode 46, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 29 November 2011.]

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In school, I was the only one among my classmates who wanted to do a job that didn’t really exist anymore.

All of my classmates wanted to do reasonable nonsense when they grew up, like become an astronaut.

Me, I wanted to be a raftman. Un draveur.

I wanted to be cool like these guys —>

These were the guys who drove logs down the river to the saw mill.

I didn’t know anything about their harsh working conditions. And I didn’t care that I’d probably be the first draveur with an Italian last name. None of it mattered because times had changed. It was 1984, baby!

Really though, all I wanted to do was dance a few jigs on logs while floating down a river. And I wanted to carry a stick with a hook on it.

The image you see here is a beer label from Quebec. I like this beer because the label reminds me of the carefree ideas that I had when I was kid, like finding employment by dancing jigs and jumping logs on rushing rivers.

But it also makes me a little nostalgic to see the image.

I never did become the first draveur with an Italian name. Most of the good draveur work got outsourced to India before I was even born. So instead I chose reasonable nonsense as a career.

No, I didn’t become an astronaut! (Although that would have been fun — is it too late?)

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clues:

0.00 — 2.00

c’est parti de, le genre d’amoureuse que j’étais, comment j’aime, insécurités face à l’amour, rendre un peu fou, une belle ballade, une toune, un mot qui sort, du guts, aller de l’avant, qui décrit tout le cheminement, des bouts plus durs, ta récompense, quelqu’un qui quitte, quelqu’un qui décède, ça touche beaucoup de choses, les gens peuvent se retrouver

2.00 — 4.00

même de l’entendre, enlever mon auto-critique, elle a tellement de drive, t’sais, je sors pas dans les bars, je fais pas trop d’excès, je me couche de bonne heure, fofolle, la bête en moi, je sors en ville, dans ce temps-là, j’ai du fun, un loup-garou, fait que (fa que), mes coups de coeur

4.00 — fin

des na na na, mes coups de coeur, par après, à un moment donné, j’ai parlé aux gars, super à l’écoute, faramineuse, ils catchaient tout de suite, géniaux, quand tu t’en vas de chez toi, dernier coup d’oeil, je m’en vas, le déchirement, se retrouver là-dedans, enregistrer en studio, pas de grand challenge là-dedans, des pitchs super hauts super bas, easy shot, un peu décontenancée, le côté jazzy, ça me ressemble, tomber en amour

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A little while ago, I wrote that Montreal was the best city in Quebec to learn French. I said it, and I’m still standing by my words! (Bon, bon, bon. Quebec City is OK too, I guess. There. I said it.)

But there’s another reason why Montreal may be ideal for some of you to learn French. Seen from this point of view, I can name a second city too. And it’s not the city you’re probably expecting me to name.

(But before I continue, I will say this: This is for anglophones who are motivated to learn French but who can afford to take their time. It’s not for anglophones who just want to do a language course or live a short and sweet francoexperience and then go back home.)

If you don’t need to become competent in French ASAP, an option to consider is learning through transition instead of immersion. Immersion is great for learning a language — there’s no doubt. But it can be very stressful for some people.

What’s transition then?

If you’re anglophone, transition would mean starting in English and then incorporating more French into your life as time goes by until you’re immersed. Two cities allow for this: Montreal and Ottawa.

In both, you can start in English or mostly English, and then make a transition towards French. In Ottawa, you can cross the river into Gatineau, spend a few hours speaking to people in French, and then go home and back to English. The same thing for Montreal — you can start mostly in English if you like, and then begin your exploration of French.

As time goes by and as your confidence increases, begin to increase the French in your life through more francointerdependence. (If I don’t use the crazy words that I make up, who will?) You can establish contact with bilingual francophones at first (so that you can slip back into English when necessary) and unilingual ones later on (when you don’t need your crutches anymore).

If you’re not determined to learn French, I can promise you that this won’t work. It takes longer and if you don’t push yourself to make that transition towards French, you will get stuck in English.

But if you know what your goals are on the long term, and full immersion doesn’t appeal to you right now, then this approach may be healthier for you. It can be much less stressful than immersion and it gives your brain the time that it needs to assimilate the language.

Just remember to do the transition or it won’t work! If you’re not going to do the transition, then maybe you really are better to go to Quebec City. But be sure to come to Montreal for a visit every once in a while, OK?

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Look Toto, une tornade (#366)

When I was kid, I hated to clean up my bedroom. I had no problem at all with the idea of living between piles of books and making tunnels through my clothes on the floor. In fact, I didn’t think it was a mess at all. I knew where everything was. It worked for me.

But then the complaints would always start to come in from upper management, and I knew that I was going to be required to create disorder in my life by picking things up and putting them into weird spots, like drawers, shelves and bins.

The only way that I could ever get myself to do such an unnatural thing was to pretend that a tornado was coming. I had to “arrange” everything in my room in less than 5 minutes before the tornado touched down and blew everything back to the way I liked it.

If you’re taking a French class, sooner or later you’ll be required by upper management to do things that you don’t want to do. Maybe it’s 10 pages of reading about something that doesn’t interest you, or another vocabulary list that puts you to sleep, or something awful like fill in the blanks.

Sometimes the things you’ll be asked to do will bore you or won’t even help you to learn. But there may be no getting around certain things in your language course. In these cases, you might not be able to make the content more fun, but maybe you can change the way you approach it.

If the work is boring, can you make it more challenging? or like a game?

Can you teach what you’re studying to a classmate?

Can you chant the conjugations that you’re required to memorise? (I think that trying to memorise conjugations is a bad idea, but you may need to do it for a test.)

Can you search for the words that you’re required to learn in song lyrics and then look for the songs on YouTube?

Can you play with the amount of time that you give yourself to do the work?

Ideally, we wouldn’t be forced to do things in class that don’t promote learning or that bore us. But that’s not going to change anytime soon.

You may need to pretend that a tornado is coming and just finish the boring stuff before you get blown out of Kansas.

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