Archive for December, 2012

The latest issue of the magazine Urbania (from Montreal) is devoted to the theme of anglophones.

I enjoy recommending the magazine Urbania as reading material in French. Each issue is devoted to a single theme, with interesting articles and images.

Urbania lets their Twitter followers (@_URBANIA) know about the release of their latest issue:

Ce soir, on lance notre Spécial #ANGLOS. Voici quelques textes qu’on a déjà publiés et qui avaient fait pas mal jaser. urbania.ca/canaux/reporta…


faire jaser
to get talked about

faire pas mal jaser
to really get talked about,
to create a stir

In Quebec, jaser is pronounced jâser. This means that the vowel a in jaser sounds something like “aww.”

If you enjoy reading magazines, you might like to give Urbania a try.

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An informal French pronunciation that you’ll hear used very frequently is the one for il y a. During regular conversations, listen for it pronounced informally as ya.


Il y a un problème.
Informal: ya un problème

In the negative, you’ll very frequently hear it as ya pas (without ne).


Il n’y a pas de problème.
Informal: ya pas d’problème

An informal pronunciation of il y a occurs in all the tenses.


il y a eu — informal: ya eu
il n’y a pas eu — informal: ya pas eu
il y avait — informal: yavait
il n’y avait pas — informal: yavait pas
il y aura — informal: yaura
il n’y aura pas — informal: yaura pas

These informal pronunciations occur so frequently that they usually go unnoticed.

In some forms of writing where the informal pronunciation is used (e.g., comic strip), an apostrophe is generally used in the spelling, after the letter y.


Y’a un problème.
Y’a pas d’problème.
y’avait, y’aurait, y’a pas eu…

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Every morning around eight thirty, a lady at the hospital where I’ve been on the mend makes an announcement over the loudspeaker:

Les plateaux sont arrivés!

She’s letting the nurses know that all the trays of food for breakfast have arrived and can be delivered to each patient.

But plateau isn’t the only word you’ll hear for “tray” in the hospital (and out in the real world). The masculine word cabaret is used just as often by the nurses.

In Quebec, plateau and cabaret exist side by side in the sense of “tray.” This is true anywhere food is served, like cafeterias, shopping centres and fast food restaurants.

I hope now that if a cashier asks if you’d like a cabaret for your order, you won’t be caught with a blank look on your face wondering what was meant…

I also hope that your breakfasts are tastier than mine!

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