Archive for January, 2012

Parle-moi pas comme ça! (#412)

If someone’s talking to you in a bad way, have you learned how to tell them to stop talking to you like that?

Ne me parle pas comme ça!
Do not talk to me like that!

That works, but during informal conversations in French, you might hear it said like this instead:

Parle-moi pas comme ça!
Don’t talk to me like that!

This form is just parle-moi comme ça with pas added in. (Parle-moi comme ça! Parle-moi pas comme ça!)

In a scene from 30 vies, a mother is having an argument with her son. When she doesn’t like what her son says to her, she blurts out:

Parle-moi pas comme ça!

The form parle-moi pas comme ça is used at an informal level only.

On your French test at night school, your instructor will expect you to use ne me parle pas comme ça. That’s also the form that’s used in carefully written or spoken French.

But after class during an argument with your québécois boyfriend or girlfriend, go ahead and use parle-moi pas comme ça if you want to defend yourself in French that sounds less stiff!

[Quote from 30 vies, season 2, episode 62, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 10 January 2012.]

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Some more random French stuff, this time from the TV show Les Parent

In a bathroom scene, we hear Natalie say to her husband, who has just farted:

J’haïs ça quand tu pètes!

“I hate it when you fart!” J’haïs ça quand… means “I hate it when…” J’haïs is pronounced ja-i.


In another scene, Louis walks into the dining room wearing a brown suit, shirt and tie. He asks his family members how he looks:

Comment vous me trouvez?

If you wanted to ask just one person how you looked, like a friend or girlfriend/boyfriend, you could ask: Comment tu me trouves?

When you want to know how someone thinks you look, ask: “How do you find me?” in French. Don’t translate “How do I look?” literally into French because you won’t get the question right.


Natalie is lecturing her youngest son Zak. Here’s how the conversation went:

Tu restes dans ta chambre, as-tu compris? Pis pas d’ordi pis pas d’jeux vidéo non plus!

Mais lààà!!

Ya pas d’mais là!

— You’re going to stay in your room, do you understand? And no computer and no video games either!
— Come ooon!!
— There’s no “Come on”!

Un ordi is an informal word for ordinateur. If you remember that d sounds like dz before the French i sound, then you know that ordi sounds like ordzi in Quebec.

Mais là here shows Zak’s resistance and surprise to what his mother had said.

Ya pas is an informal pronunciation of il n’y a pas.

[All quotes from Les Parent, “24 heures à la fois,” season 4, episode 13, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 23 January 2012.]

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JJ Levine

JJ Levine

In Urbania magazine issue #32 devoted to theme of lesbians, we come across the noun la butch used to refer to a lesbian with butch mannerisms: la butch, les butchs. We also find butch used as an adjective.

Is the word butch offensive? One woman interviewed in the magazine said that it was. Another woman, JJ Levine (read bio here), said that it wasn’t, and that she used the word a lot. She said that the only women who’d be offended by it were probably the ones that people considered to be butch but who didn’t identify as butch themselves.

JJ Levine cuts hair. She specialises in la coupe butch, the “butch cut.” She also calls it la coupe lesbienne. To do une coupe butch, on rase sur le côté. JJ Levine says that k.d. lang has really ugly hair, and that she’d like to give her une coupe butch classique.

When asked what she felt was THE lesbian haircut in its most clichéd form, JJ Levine mentioned a few: la coupe Longueuil (it’s a mullet: short in the front avec le pad en arrière, which the Longueuil people have the reputation of sporting; read more here), le buzzcut and la coupe emo (the emo cut).

You can read an older conversation from 2009 with JJ Levine on the Urbania website: JJ Levine, coiffeuse queer.

la butch, les butchs1, butch, butches
la coupe butch, butch cut
la coupe lesbienne, lesbian cut
raser2 sur le côté, to shave the side
la coupe Longueuil3, mullet
le pad, long hair in the back; also used to refer to a mullet
le buzzcut, buzzcut
la coupe emo, emo cut

1 the s in butchs isn’t pronounced
2 raser and rasé are pronounced râzé; the â sounds like “aww”
3 Longueuil is a city across the St. Lawrence River from Montreal

[The vocabulary in this entry comes from “JJ Levine, spécialiste des coupes butch” by Nadia Essadiqi, Urbania, numéro 32, hiver 2012, Montréal, p. 11.]

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On signs around town, you’ll sometimes see the wording Pas de flânage. This means “no loitering.” Le flânage is a Quebec French usage. You’ll even see this word at Tim Hortons. On a sign that they hang on the wall, it reads: Il nous fait plaisir de vous voir chez nous, mais pas de flânage s’il vous plaît. Durée limitée à 20 minutes. In other words, eat your Timbit and get out!


In a scene from 30 vies, we hear one character explain to another that his cell was turned off. He said: Mon cell était fermé.


In another scene from 30 vies, a character asks her friend if there’s a problem: ya un problème? During conversations, you’ll often hear il y a pronounced as ya.


You’ll often hear spare change referred to as du change in Quebec. Homeless people on the street will sometimes say to you: Un peu de change pour manger, s’il vous plaît.

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Je sais pas trop (#408)

An expression that you’ll hear in French during conversations when someone isn’t too sure about something is:

Je sais pas trop.
I’m not too sure.

-Pourquoi il fait ça?
-Euh, je sais pas trop, là.

Je sais pas trop quoi dire.

Sometimes you’ll hear je sais pas trop pronounced as j’sais pas trop. It sounds like ché pas trop.

J’sais pas trop quoi faire.

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