Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for September, 2013

This afternoon, I ordered a coffee — a strong one, un café corsé. As I ordered, I heard a woman talking on her mobile. The person she was speaking to couldn’t hear her.

Maybe you’ll remember this question from entry #682, asked by a girl in her 20s speaking on the phone:

Tu m’entends-tu?
Can you hear me?

This is also how the woman today asked if she could be heard. In fact, she asked the question a few times. One of the other ways she asked the questions was:

Est-ce que tu m’entends?
Can you hear me?

The first question (tu m’entends-tu?) uses the informal yes-no question marker tu to ask the question. You can read more about asking yes-no questions with tu in this guide.

The woman speaking on the phone used tu m’entends-tu? and est-ce que tu m’entends? interchangeably. Because she used the form tu m’entends-tu?, we know that she was speaking to someone she’s on familiar terms with.

A call centre representative is very unlikely to ask a customer on the phone who has trouble hearing: tu m’entends-tu? It’s too informal sounding. It’s okay to use tu m’entends-tu? with a friend, though.

Read Full Post »

Méchant beau char

Méchant beau char

In entry #684, a girl exclaimed celui-là est malade! as she pointed to a famous building made of Mega Bloks at a centre d’achats (shopping centre).

Although the literal meaning of malade is “sick,” it meant “awesome” or “amazing” when the girl used it to describe the Mega Bloks display.

Way back in entry #267, Hugo from the television show La Galère uses the word écoeurant to describe his new appart (informal word for “apartment” which sounds like the English word “apart”).

The literal meaning of écoeurant is disgusting, but this word can also take on the meaning “awesome” or “amazing.” So when Hugo says that his appart is écoeurant, he means that it’s amazing… not disgusting!

In La Galère, Hugo also says that he’s going to get une job écoeurante, “an amazing job.”

Ken asks whether méchant has this double meaning as well. Recently, I saw a sign for a lost dog in my neighbourhood. The owner of the dog was offering une méchante grosse récompense to the person who could return his dog to him.

The literal meaning of méchant is “wicked,” but, on the sign for the lost dog, it takes on a positive sense (an amazingly big reward, a wicked big reward).

Celui-là est malade!
That one’s awesome!

un appart écoeurant
an awesome apartment
(and not “a disgusting apartment”)

une job écoeurante
an amazing job
(and not “a disgusting job”)

une méchante grosse récompense
an amazingly big reward

Read Full Post »

An orange bug parked in Montréal

An orange bug parked in Montréal

1. Ton p’tit nom, c’est quoi?

What’s your name?

Someone I had just met turned the conversation to our names. He asked what my name was with: ton p’tit nom, c’est quoi? Your petit nom is your first name.

2. Celui-là est malade!

That one’s amazing!

In a shopping centre, there was a display of famous structures made entirely of Mega Bloks (Eiffel Tower, Colosseum, Maracanã Stadium, etc.).

A girl passed by, pointed to one of the structures and exclaimed: celui-là est malade! The structure wasn’t ill — it was amazing.

3. Excusez-moi, le centre d’achats ferme à cinq heures?

Excuse me, does the shopping centre close at five?

A woman asked at the information desk of a shopping centre if it would close at five o’clock. Un centre d’achats is a shopping centre.

4. Tu comptes rester là jusqu’à quelle heure?

What time do you think you’ll be there until?

A guy in his 20s talking on his mobile phone asked this of the person he was speaking with.

5. C’est la vie

If you haven’t already discovered C’est la vie from the CBC, take a look (or, more accurately, a listen). C’est la vie is an audio programme in English with podcasts related to the culture and French of Québec.

Read Full Post »

Je cherche ma petite chatteI came across this unusual (and passive-aggressive?) sign in a Montréal street for a lost cat. You can click on it to make it bigger.

There are a few mistakes in it, so I’ve fixed them below. I’ve also translated it into English.

Je cherche ma petite chatte, elle est noire, elle se tenait normalement dans ma cour. Son collier était sale. Je le lui avais enlevé pour le laver. Si quelqu’un pensait qu’elle était orpheline et qu’il l’a adoptée, c’est gentil, mais j’aimerais qu’elle revienne. Si vous l’avez capturée, un chat noir = malheur à vous. Vous pouvez la rapporter et le mauvais sort sera annulé. Merci! (Patrick le sorcier, 8 ans ½)

I’m looking for my little cat, she’s black, she usually stayed in my yard. Her collar was dirty. I took it off to wash it. If somebody thought she was homeless and adopted her, that’s kind of you, but I’d like for her to come back. If you took her, a black cat = woe to you. You can bring her back and the curse will be cancelled. Thank you! (Patrick the wizard, 8 ½ years old)

Read Full Post »

Casa d’Italia à Montréal (métro Jean-Talon)

I’ve been keeping my ears open for you! Here are 10 new examples of overheard French.

All 10 are spontaneous examples that I caught someone say while out and about in Montréal.

1. Arrête de niaiser!

Stop kidding around!
Stop messing with me!

Two young women in their 20s were walking and talking in the street.

One of the women then stopped the other. She exclaimed arrête de niaiser because she was so taken aback by whatever her friend had said.

2. Je prendrais…

I’ll take…
Can I get…?

A lady ordered food at the cash of a restaurant by saying je prendrais…

We’ve also seen the expression je vais prendre… on OffQc, as well as just stating what you want followed by s’il vous plaît.

Je prendrais un café, s’il vous plaît.
Je vais prendre un café, s’il vous plaît.
Un café, s’il vous plaît.

3. T’as quel âge?

How old are you?

Two young teenagers were talking to each other. This is how one of them asked the other his age.

4. Bonne fin de journée!

Enjoy the rest of your day!

An elderly lady said this to a group of friends as she left them. It was three o’clock in the afternoon. Cashiers in stores also say this a lot to customers.

The word de isn’t stressed. Try saying it like this: bonne finde journée, where finde sounds like a one-syllable word.

5. Finalement j’ai rien.

There’s nothing wrong me after all.
Turns out I’m fine.

A girl answered her mobile phone. I think it was her grandmother calling. The girl explained that she had just left hospital and that there was nothing wrong with her after all.

J’ai rien is an informal way of saying je n’ai rien.

6. Merci, t’es fine.

Thanks, you’re so kind (nice, sweet).

The same girl from number 5 said this on the phone.

Fine is the feminine form. Fin is the masculine. Fine rhymes with the French word mine. Fin rhymes with the French word main.

Merci, t’es fine is said to a female. For a male, you’d say: merci, t’es fin.

The adjectives gentil and gentille are used in Québec too, of course.

The masculine gentil sounds like jen-tsi. In the feminine, the tille part of gentille rhymes with fille. You’ll remember that the letter t in both gentil and gentille is pronounced ts.

That’s because the letter t is pronounced ts before the French i sound. The letter t is also pronounced ts before the French u sound. This is what’s known as the tsitsu on OffQc. For example, partir is pronounced par-tsir in Québec, and tuque is pronounced tsuk.

You can also use c’est gentil to thank someone, male or female:

Merci, c’est gentil.
Thanks, that’s kind (of you).

7. Fais pas comme si tu m’avais pas vue!

Don’t pretend you didn’t see me!

A girl said this to a guy as he walked by. She jokingly accused him of pretending that he hadn’t seen her to avoid saying hello to her.

If a guy had said this, it would be written like this: fais pas comme si tu m’avais pas vu!

Fais pas! is an informal way of saying ne fais pas!

8. Tu m’entends-tu?

Can you hear me?

A girl in her 20s said this while speaking on the phone. The person she was speaking to couldn’t hear her very well.

The second tu in her question is an informal yes-no question word. The first tu means “you,” but the second one doesn’t. To learn more about this, you can download a mini-guide about yes-no questions using tu.

When pronounced, her question sounded like: tsu m’entends-tsu? That’s the tsitsu again! (See number 6.)

9. Dans une tasse ou dans un carton?

In a mug or in a paper cup?

I stopped in a café that will serve their coffee in both mugs and paper cups. A lady in line ahead of me ordered a coffee. The cashier asked if she wanted the coffee in a mug (to drink the coffee there) or in a paper cup (to go). Dans une tasse ou dans un carton?

10. Oui, toi?

Fine, and you?

When you ask somebody ça va? (how are you?), the response will often be a simple oui, toi?

Answering oui to ça va? is the equivalent of saying “fine” to the question “how are you?” You can add in toi? to ask about the other person and sound less curt. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from giving a more enthusiastic response than just oui!

Read Full Post »

During a conversation in French last weekend, a young woman in her 20s used three expressions over and over while speaking:

1. Là, j’étais comme…
2. Moi là…
3. Fa’ que là…

Here’s what they mean (because you’ll definitely be hearing them during French conversations):

  • Là, j’étais comme…

This is similar to the English “then I was (just) like…” used by certain people when telling a story about something that happened.

She pronounced j’étais informally as j’tais. When j collides with t, the j makes a ch sound.

Là, j’étais comme : « De quoi tu parles?? »
Then I was like, “What are you talking about??”

  • Moi là…

She often gave her opinion about something by starting off with moi là. It’s similar to saying “personally” or “as for me” in English.

Moi là, j’aime pas ça.
Personally, I don’t like it.

Sometimes it’s also said with pis (an informal pronunciation of puis) when relating events. It’s just an informal way of saying “and.”

Pis moi là, j’étais comme : « De quoi tu parles?? »
And me, I was like, “What are you talking about??”

  • Fa’ que là…

This is similar to saying “so then” in English, where fa’ que (from fait que) means “so” and means “then.”

Fa’ que là, j’ai dit : « De quoi tu parles?? »
So then I said, “What are you talking about??”

She always said fa’ que là with three syllables, but you’ll also hear it said with two: fak là.

Read Full Post »

Bienvenue aux chialeux et aux chialeusesI saw this illuminated ad in the métro for the Petit Larousse 2014 from France:

Bienvenue aux
CHIALEUX et aux
CHIALEUSES.

The Larousse people are letting us know that these québécois usages have been added to the new edition of their dictionary.

Un chialeux is a nag, a complainer, a whiner. Chialeux and chialeuse are pronounced chiâleux and chiâleuse.

A blogger has this to say about himself:

Personne n’aime un chialeux. Sérieux là, même moi en me relisant, je me trouvais chiant.
Nobody likes a complainer. Like seriously, even I found myself annoying when I reread my writing.

The verb chialer (pronounced chiâler) means to complain, to whine.

The Usito dictionary gives us some examples:

Arrête de chialer!
Stop complaining!

chialer contre le gouvernement
to complain about the government

chialer sur tout et sur rien
to complain about anything and everything

Qui sont ces gens qui chialent?An Urbania article asks:

Qui sont ces gens qui chialent?

Jamais contents. Toujours en train de pleurer. Super blasés. Continuellement en train de se lamenter. Sur toutes les tribunes, dans tous les salons, pour un oui, pour un non, on les entend chialer tout le temps.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »