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Archive for January, 2014

In the Parent family, there are three sons. The youngest one is Zak, the middle one is Oli, and the oldest one is Thomas.

In this text message exchange, Oli steals Zak’s phone and sends messages to his mother, pretending to be Zak.

Can you guess what kind of messages an older brother would send to his mother while pretending to be his little brother?

M’man, j’ai commencé à fumer.
Maman, I’ve started smoking.

OK.
OK.

Mais juste quand je bois beaucoup d’alcool.
But just when I drink lots of alcohol.

Si ça te rend heureux 🙂
If that’s what makes you happy 🙂

Mais ça coûte cher pis il me reste pu de $ pour acheter des condoms.
But it’s expensive and I don’t have any money left to buy condoms.

As-tu pensé à voler Oli? C’est mon moins favori. Surtout qd il niaise avec le cell de Zak.
Why don’t you steal it from Oli? He’s my least favourite (son). Especially when he fools around with Zak’s cell.

Comment t’as su?
How did you know?

Il est devant moi. Et il txt ta blonde avec ton cell en ton nom.
He (Zak) is right in front of me. And he’s txting your girlfriend with your cell using your name.

pis, and (sounds like pi)
pu = plus
il me reste pu $ = il [ne] me reste p[l]u[s] d’argent
acheter des condoms, to buy condoms
voler Oli, to rob Oli, to steal from Oli
qd = quand
niaiser avec, to mess around with
le cell d’Oli, Oli’s cell phone
t’as = tu as
su = from the verb savoir
il txt = il texte
texter ta blonde, to text your girlfriend

Les Parent Facebook page
Les Parent is also on tou.tv

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Who you callin’ a pwèsson?

Angela asks about how she heard words containing oi pronounced in folk music, like the word soir.

Read this text:

Ce soir on va boire, moi et toi! On va manger des poires, et conter des histoires! Voir c’est croire!

Now read it again, like this:

Ce swèr on va bwère, moé pis toé! On va manger des pwères, pis conter des histwères! Wère c’est crère!

This is obviously an exaggerated example, but these pronunciations do exist.

What is this madness? Isn’t poire supposed to be pronounced like poire and boire like boire?

Well, yeah… but I think it was Confucius who said, “He who lives in a freezer for half the year will start saying weird shit.”

Anyway, the pronunciations in that second example (swèr, bwère, crère, etc.) sound more typical of certain older speakers. Younger speakers would say soir, boire, croire, etc.

I don’t suggest you start pronouncing words like in that second example. Just learn to recognise them. On the other hand, for those of you doing traditional music, you may want to consider incorporating those pronunciations for the folkloric effect they produce when you sing.

That second example came from a university essay posted online. The author also mentions how those pronunciations are perceived: Aujourd’hui au Québec (…) cette pronunciation est jugée vulgaire, ouvrière, campagnarde, de mauvais goût, etc. (Today in Québec, this pronunciation is felt to be crude, working class, rural, low class, etc.).

Obviously the people who use this pronunciation don’t give a hoot, but you should be aware of how they may be perceived by others. This is why I don’t suggest you adopt this pronunciation when speaking.

Angela also notices a curious expression that comes up in the folk songs she listens to: ô gué!

Ô gué! is an exclamation of happiness or gayness (or should it be guéness?). Not gayness as in Gay Pride gayness, but gayness as in Isn’t Life Just Dandy gayness.

Remember what “gay” meant before it became associated with homosexuality? It meant happy, joyful, blissful… That’s what gué conveys here. If you hear it in a song, it just means the singers are feeling pretty gay.

This isn’t a modern use though, and you’re not going to hear anybody say that while out and about in Montréal — unless of course someone suddenly decided to bust out a folk song while sucking back a calorie-laden caffeine meal disguised as a beverage at Starbucks. Ô gué!

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Mes Aïeux

Mes Aïeux (click on the image to go to the official site)

On the OffQc Facebook page, Ken asked about a few pronunciations he heard in a modern folk song called Dégénérations by the group Mes Aïeux. In one part of this song about generational degeneration (which you can listen to below), the lyrics go like this:

Et pis toi, ma p’tite fille, tu changes de partenaire tout l’temps
Quand tu fais des conneries, tu t’en sauves en avortant
And as for you, young girl, you’re always sleeping around
Whenever you mess up, you just get out of it by aborting

Ken asked about the word pis, and also wanted to know why toi gets pronounced as toé (or twé) in the song.

You’ll hear pis a lot when people speak French casually. It sounds as if it were written pi, or like the English word “pee.” It can mean “then” or “and” depending on how it’s used. Pis derives from puis.

I found a blog post in which the author wrote a fictional piece (or at least I hope it’s fictional) about saving some guy from choking on his 6-inch tuna sub at a Subway restaurant. He uses the word pis in his writing:

Tantôt, j’étais au Subway, pis y’a un monsieur qui s’est étouffé avec son 6 pouces au thon drette à côté de moi.
Earlier on, I was at Subway [a fast-food restaurant], and there was a man who choked on his 6-inch tuna [sandwich] right next to me.

J’me suis d’abord placé devant lui pis je l’ai entouré de mes mains pis je l’ai serré contre moi.
First I stood in front of him, (and) then I grabbed hold of him, (and) then I pulled him in towards me.

[Quotes by Gran Talen in Sauver une vie grâce à mon collier pur noisetier]

So, when Mes Aïeux sing et pis toi in the lyrics above, we can translate it as “and as for you” (i.e., and now, turning our attention to you…). But Ken notes that they don’t actually sing it as et pis toi — they sing it as et pis toé.

If you listen to traditional québécois music, you’ll often hear moi and toi pronounced as moé and toé in the songs. You might also sometimes hear these pronunciations in conversations. If you came across moé pis toé in French, it means moi et toi.

Is there a difference between moi/toi and moé/toé?

Yes, there’s a difference. They mean the same thing, but some people in Québec may tell you that moé and toé are “incorrect.” These pronunciations are often typically associated with the working class.

As a learner of French, should you use moé and toé when you speak?

Probably not. The Québécois will know that you’re not a native speaker of French, and these pronunciations will almost certainly sound out of place if you use them. (This is maybe similar to the English word “ain’t.” You’d probably find it strange to hear a non-native speaker of English use it.)

This doesn’t mean that moé and toé are “bad” pronunciations. But I do think it’s best to leave moé and toé to the native speakers and just stick with moi and toi yourself.

As for pis, you can probably get away with using that one, even as a non-native speaker of French, because it’s just so very prevalent in conversations. Save it for informal conversations though, and keep listening to French so that you can hear how and when it’s used.

On the other hand, if you’re singing québécois trad music (and I know some of you are), moé and toé will probably sound very appropriate in that context because of the folkloric effect they produce.

In fact, in the Mes Aïeux folk song below, it’s probably moi and toi that would sound out of place!

Enjoy…

You can find the lyrics to the song through Google with the search terms paroles mes aïeux dégénérations.

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In a conversation last week, a man in his 50s talked about his computer troubles and that he eventually got the blue screen.

Here’s just a little of what he said:

Je pèse su’l’piton une coup’ de fois… écran bleu… c’est peut-être mon disque qui a foiré…

(So) I press the button a few times… blue screen… it might be my (hard) disk that failed…

1. peser sur le piton

je pèse sur le piton
je pèse su’l’piton
(sounds like je pèse sul piton)
I press the button

In this sense, peser means the same thing as appuyer.

Piton here refers to a button that can be pressed, like on a keyboard, remote control, telephone, etc.

2. une couple de fois

une couple de fois
une coup’ de fois
(sounds like une coupe de fois)
a couple times, a few times

The expression une couple de… only survives in Québec. In the rest of the francophonie, it has fallen out of use. It will obviously remind you of the English expression “a couple (times, weeks, questions, etc.),” which came from French.

You’ll often hear couple pronounced without the -le ending in Québec, making it sound like coupe.

When couple is used in this sense, it’s feminine: une couple de fois, une couple de semaines, une couple de questions, etc.

If couple means “(romantic) relationship,” then it’s masculine: Je ne supporte pas ma belle-mère et mon couple va droit dans le mur. “I can’t stand my mother-in-law and my relationship is tanking.”

3. dzzzzz

Disque is a dzidzu word, so the d in disque makes a dz sound: dzisque.

The word for computer, ordinateur, often gets shortened to ordi during conversations (e.g., mon ordi, my computer). Both ordinateur and ordi are dzidzu words too: ordzinateur, ordzi.

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On the OffQc Facebook page, I asked recently what Québécois French word you had trouble understanding. Andrew said the word guidoune.

In Québécois French, une guidoune can refer to a promiscuous woman. Because guidoune is an informal and offensive word, its equivalent in English would be words like slut, slag, whore, etc.

You may hear guidoune used to refer to a prostitute, or a woman judged to be “slutty” in appearance or behaviour.

For example, in 2011, a Toronto police officer claimed that if women stopped dressing like “sluts” (s’habiller en guidoune), they’d avoid being assaulted. A group of women angered by the police officer’s comments then organised a march in Toronto called SlutWalk.

The event then spread to other cities, including Montréal. In the image below from the Montréal version, we see the event name rendered in French as Marche des salopes rather than Marche des guidounes.

Image source: TVA Nouvelles

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Zak

Zak

When you were a kid, were you ever embarrassed to be seen in public with your parents?

Les Parent is a comical television show from Québec revolving around the day-to-day experiences of a family of five.

In this show, Zak is the youngest child in the family.

Recently, an imaginary text message exchange between Zak and his father was posted on the Les Parent Facebook page. Zak gets embarrassed by something his father does in front of his school…

J’suis devant ton école. Veux-tu un lift?
I’m in front of your school. Do you want a lift?

Non, c’est beau.
No, it’s OK.

Je peux te prendre au coin si ça te gêne.
I can pick you up at the corner if it embarrasses you.

J’m’en vais chez Zoé pour faire un travail.
I’m going to Zoé’s to work on an assignment.

Ah! OK. Donc, t’as pas honte de moi?
Ah! OK. So, you’re not embarrassed by me?

Ben non, voyons.
No, of course not.

Dans ce cas, regarde par la fenêtre. C’est moi qui fais des bye bye dans le stationnement.
In that case, look out the window. That’s me waving at you in the parking lot.

ARRÊTE ÇA!
STOP IT!

Learn the whole text, but here are six sentences in particular that you can learn from the exchange.

1. Veux-tu un lift? Do you want a lift?
2. Non, c’est beau. No, that’s OK. Don’t worry about it.
3. Je peux te prendre au coin. I can pick you up at the corner.
4. Je m’en vais chez Zoé. I’m going to Zoé’s place.
5. Ben non, voyons. No, of course not.
6. Arrête ça! Stop it!

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Carrot slop again? ffffff... chu tanné de t'ça.

Carrot slop again? Pffffff… chu tanné de ça.

In Montréal today, a woman in her 60s said:

Je suis tannée, je suis tannée de t’ça.
I’m fed up, I’m fed up with it.

What’s de t’ça?

It’s an informal pronunciation that you’ll sometimes hear for de ça.

The de t’ part just sounds like de with a t sound on the end, followed by ça, as if it were deutt ça.

It was a woman in her 60s who said de t’ça, but it can be heard in any age group during informal conversations.

You don’t need to start saying de t’ça yourself. Just learn to recognise it. The regular de ça pronunciation works in any language situation, for example: je suis tanné de ça, or more informally: chu tanné de ça.

If you are going to use de t’ça though, keep it for informal language situations.

By the way, the woman really did say je suis, and not the informal contracted forms j’sus (chu) or j’suis (chui).

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