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Archive for December, 2013

It surely comes as no surprise to you — Montréal gets a lot of snow in the winter: de la marde blanche (the white shit)!

If you drive a car, you’ll need a shovel, une pelle, to dig yourself out after a snowfall, une bordée de neige.

If you have a driveway, you’ll need to shovel that too, pelleter l’entrée. To pronounce pelleter, say it with two syllables: pelter. You can also say pelleter la neige.

When snow is fresh, it looks clean. But when it begins to melt on the roads, it turns into slush, de la slush (de la sloche).

At street corners in downtown Montréal, you’ll often need to jump across a pool of water.

If you get your feet wet in the slush and water, you’re going to be pretty miserable.

Be sure to choose a good pair of winter boots for walking around in Montréal, choisir une bonne paire de bottes d’hiver.

If you’re new to Montréal, walking on slippery sidewalks requires practice. You’ll need those good boots to avoid breaking your back by falling down on the ice, se péter le dos en pognant une débarque sur la glace!

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Julie LaferrièreIf you live in Montréal and read the Métro while riding the métro, perhaps you’ve come across Julie Laferrière’s column Hors du commun on Tuesdays.

In her column, Laferrière shares her experiences while using public transportation in Montréal.

In her article La noblesse (9 Dec. 2013), Laferrière describes an experience with a homeless man at métro Saint-Laurent: The homeless man asks her for change, but she doesn’t have any. Instead, she offers him the nuts she’s just bought at the dépanneur. The only problem is that he’s got no teeth and can’t eat them. The experience moves her.

In her article, there are several québécois usages that we can look at. On her way to the métro, Laferrière describes how hungry she was:

(…) je n’ai rien avalé depuis la toast de 7 h ce matin.
I haven’t eaten anything since the toast (that I ate) at 7 this morning.

She decides to go the dépanneur to buy a snack:

J’opte alors pour le dépanneur du métro Saint-Laurent et je jette mon dévolu sur un gros sac de noix.
So I decide to go the dépanneur at métro Saint-Laurent, and I set my sights on a big bag of nuts.

After she buys the nuts, a homeless man calls out to her and asks for twenty-five cents:

Madame, t’as-tu vingt-cinq cennes S.V.P.?
Madame, d’ya have twenty-five cents, please?

Laferrière doesn’t have change, so she offers him the nuts she’s just bought. With a large toothless smile, the man tells her:

T’es ben fine, mais j’pourrai pas faire grand-chose avec ça.
You’re really kind, but there’s not much I can do with that [with the nuts].

To read the entire article, click here or on the image above.

une toast
a piece of toast
Toast is a feminine word in French.

un dépanneur
a shop where you can buy snacks, cigarettes, milk, etc.

t’as-tu…?
ya got…?
d’ya have…?
Read more about this informal usage here.

une cenne
one cent

vingt-cinq cennes
twenty-five cents

ben [sounds like bain]
really

t’es ben fine [said to a woman]
you’re really nice, kind

t’es ben fin [said to a man]
you’re really nice, kind

There are some other expressions in the article that you might like to learn:

il flatte son chien
he’s patting his dog

j’ai une boule dans la gorge
I’ve got a knot in my throat [because of emotion]

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The CBC’s Canada Writes published an interview about OffQc today. Take a look when you get the chance. They asked me why it’s difficult to learn French the “traditional” way, how to keep your ears and eyes fresh, as well as some questions about me and the blog.

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When French borrows a word from English, it often becomes masculine in French. But when you’re listening to French spoken by the Québécois, have you noticed that some borrowed words became feminine instead?

Here are just seven of them:

  • toast
  • job
  • joke
  • pinotte
  • sandwich
  • traite
  • bullshit!

Below are examples of how you could hear these words used. The examples were all written by Mario Bélanger in his book Petit guide du parler québécois, which I reviewed in an earlier entry.

For each example, I’ve included a translation into English.

Je veux une toast et un café.
I want toast and coffee.

Tu as une job qui te plaît.
(remember: tu as contracts to t’as in conversations)
You’ve got a job that you like.

C’est pas grave. C’est juste une joke.
It’s no big deal. It’s just a joke.

J’ai le goût de manger des pinottes.
I feel like eating peanuts.

Veux-tu une sandwich au jambon?
Do you want a ham sandwich?

C’est à mon tour de payer la traite.
It’s my turn to treat.

Cette publicité, c’est de la bullshit!
(bullshit is pronounced boulechitte)
This advertisement is bullshit!

For the words job and sandwich, a masculine form exists too (la job, le job; la sandwich, le sandwich). During regular, everyday conversations in Québec, you’re more likely to hear the feminine form. The masculine form of these two words appears more frequently in writing.

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