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Archive for July, 2013

MontréalThese 7 examples really are “street French” because I overheard someone say each one of them in the street!

1. Pardon, ‘scusez!

While waiting in line to get on an STM bus, an elderly woman behind me burped. It caught her off-guard, and she apologised to the people around her by saying pardon, ‘scusez!

‘Scusez is a shortened form of excusez. Instead of saying just pardon or just excusez, she said both. I guess she was particularly embarrassed.

2. J’viens d’avoir un flash.

A woman on her Vespa was parked along the side of a street. She was talking into her mobile phone and said j’viens d’avoir un flash, “I just had an idea” or “I just thought of something.”

I didn’t catch much else, but I think she was making plans to meet up with the friend she was talking to.

3. Un peu d’change, monsieur?

A homeless man in the street asked me for spare change by saying un peu d’change, monsieur? You’ll often hear change referred to as change in Québec.

On the other hand, the word monnaie is used throughout the French-speaking world, including Québec, in the sense of spare change.

I’ve also been asked un peu d’monnaie, monsieur? in the street in Montréal.

4. Fouille-moi, là.

The woman who said this was explaining to someone else that a package had been delivered to the wrong address. When she was asked how it happened, she used the expression fouille-moi, “beats me” or “who knows.”

Fouiller means “to search.” The idea behind this expression is “search me (for the answer, but you’re not gonna find it!).”

If you don’t know how to pronounce fouille, it sounds something like the English “phooey” (as in “oh phooey!”). If you were to pronounce this expression as “phooey-moi,” you’re pretty close to the way it sounds.

She also stuck in a at the end of her expression. Maybe you’ll remember that is added to end of all kinds of statements in Québec during conversations.

5. Y’a-tu quelqu’un qui était là?

A woman said this while speaking into her mobile. It means: “Was anybody there?” or “Is there someone who was there?” It’s not as difficult to understand as you may think.

Il y a is often pronounced y’a during conversations. The opposite, il n’y a pas, is often said as y’a pas. So, now you know that y’a-tu quelqu’un qui était là? means il y a-tu quelqu’un qui était là? But what about that tu in there?

That tu is a yes-no question word used during informal speech. To understand it, we can render it as oui ou non:

Il y a (oui ou non) quelqu’un qui était là?

6. Let’s go, let’s go!

A man was leading a group of school kids in the street. When they started to scatter about a bit, he urged them to hurry up and come all together again as a group. He called out: let’s go, let’s go!

This expression obviously comes from English, but everybody in Québec understands it. In fact, it’s used often enough that I think we can just call it a French expression used in Québec!

7. OK les amis, suivez-moi!

That same group of school kids was also led by a woman accompanying the man who said the expression above. When she wanted the kids to follow her in the street, she said: OK les amis, suivez-moi!, “OK friends, follow me!”

When you want to call out to your friends in French, you say les amis!, with the les included in it. For example, you can call out to a group of your friends by saying: hey, les amis!

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Espace réservé aux trous de culRabii Rammal’s blog posts on the website version of Urbania are written in the form of letters.

The “letters” are addressed to strangers who have crossed Rammal’s path in the city and caught his attention for different reasons.

A few blog post titles will give you an idea of what to expect from Rammal:

Cher gars qui voulait se parquer dans le spot pour handicapés,
Dear guy who wanted to park in the spot for handicapped people,

and

Cher gars qui pue,
Dear guy who stinks,

and

Chère fille qui a assassiné un gars à la banque,
Dear girl who murdered a guy at the bank,

In his blog post about the guy who wanted to park in the handicapped spot even though he wasn’t handicapped, Rammal describes this act as “something that only an asshole does,” c’est trou de cul de faire ça.

Rammal tells the guy:

C’est trou de cul faire ça. C’est le genre de truc que si t’allais voir un trou de cul et tu lui demandais : « Hey, trou de cul, te stationnerais-tu dans un spot pour handicapés? » ben il te répondrait : « Oui, ça m’semble être quelque chose que ma qualité de trou de cul me pousserait à faire ».

Only an asshole does that. It’s like if you went up to an asshole and asked: “Hey asshole, would you park in a spot for handicapped people?,” he’d answer: “Yes, as an asshole, that seems like something I’d be very inclined to do.”

un trou de cul
(sounds like troud cu)
an asshole

C’est trou de cul de faire ça.
Only an asshole does that.

se stationner
to park

un spot
(informal; sounds like spotte)
a spot

Y s’est stationné dans un spot pour handicapés.
He parked in a handicapped spot.

In his blog post about the girl who “murdered” a guy at the bank (she didn’t really murder him, she verbally blasted him), Rammal witnesses an argument between four people waiting in line at the bank.

While in line, two male friends talk to each other about driving up to Tremblant. Male friend A then takes a dig at male friend B by saying that he drives like a girl: tu chauffes comme une fille.

Two female friends waiting in line behind the guys hear the comment. One of the girls chews the guy out for his comment. An argument follows, with gender stereotypes flung about, like when one of the guys insults the angry girl by saying that she must be dans sa semaine, or that it must be “that time of the month.”

chauffer comme une fille
conduire comme une fille
to drive like a girl

être dans sa semaine
to be on the rag
to be that time of the month

You can read Rabii Rammal on Urbania. You can also follow @rabiirammal and @_URBANIA on Twitter.

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1. mes amis

Say: mé za mi

2. aux études

Say: au zé tude

3. vous avez

Say: vou za vé

When the liaison occurs between two words, it’s really the second word whose pronunciation changes, not the first.

Mes amis is pronounced mé za mi, not méz a mi. If you put a pause between each syllable, you’ll hear the difference between the two.

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On trouve de tout... même un ami

Jean Coutu is a pharmacy in Québec whose slogan is:

On trouve de tout… même un ami!

And it’s true. You really will find a friend at Jean Coutu.

They’re called condoms.

1. condom

condom

In Québec, the standard word for condom is un condom (sounds like condon). The French word un préservatif is understood, but its use is limited.

The expression “to use a condom” is utiliser un condom.

There’s also an informal word for condom, like “rubber” in English: une capote. In Montréal, you may have even noticed a sex shop downtown called La Capoterie.

2. pâte à dents

pate à dents

In addition to le dentifrice and la pâte dentifrice, toothpaste is also known as la pâte à dents in Québec, which is similar in form to la brosse à dents, or toothbrush.

On tubes of toothpaste, you’ll see the term dentifrice, not pâte à dents.

3. soie dentaire

soie dentaire

In Québec, dental floss is called la soie dentaire. In France, it’s called le fil dentaire. Soie dentaire is the standard term in Québec, used on packaging and in conversation (if you like to talk about dental floss!).

4. bas

bas

A sock is called un bas in Québec, which sounds like bâ. For example, un bas de laine is a wool sock.

5. chaise roulante

chaise roulante

In addition to un fauteuil roulant, understood by French speakers everywhere, you’ll also hear a wheelchair called une chaise roulante in Québec.

6. sac à vidanges

sac à ordures

The package says sacs à ordures, meaning “garbage bags.” In addition to this term, you’ll also hear un sac à vidanges at a more informal level of language. The word vidanges is often used in Québec in the sense of garbage. Un vidangeur is garbageman.

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Adviser: Mr Harper, I think you may be showing too much neck, even for Québec. Harper: Oh je m’en crisse. C’est la fin de semaine. Donne-moi ce café.

You’re becoming experts at saying that you don’t give a shit (or a fuck either) in French, and it’s all OffQc’s fault. But, if Mr Harper knows how to say it, then you probably should too.

In entry #635, you discovered how to say “I don’t give a fuck” or “I don’t give a damn” using the verb s’en câlisser:

1. Je m’en câlisse.

Then, in entry #641, you discovered the verb s’en sacrer:

2. Je m’en sacre.

And now here’s a third way, inspired by this Urbania article:

3. Je m’en crisse.

This third way uses the verb s’en crisser.

You now know three québécois verbs to express not giving a shit about something:

s’en câlisser
s’en sacrer
s’en crisser

Here are a few examples using this new verb, s’en crisser.

On s’en crisse!
Nobody gives a shit!

Je m’en crisse que tu t’en crisses.
I don’t give a damn that you don’t give a damn.

Je m’en crisse royalement!
I don’t give a flying fuck!

J’ai coulé mon examen, mais dans le fond, je m’en crisse.
I flunked my exam, but really, I don’t give a shit.

Image: Emperor Haute Couture (Margaret Sutherland)

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