Archive for March, 2014

I came across the ad in the first image in a public space in Montréal. It’s from a mobile phone company called Fido, who always use dogs in their ads. This one says:

On a du flair pour les bonnes affaires
We’ve got flair for good deals

There’s wordplay here because the text reminds us of the French verb flairer, which is something that dogs do: “to sniff.”

Le chien policier a flairé 50 kilos de pot.
The police dog sniffed out 50 kilos of pot.

The t in pot in the sense of marijuana is pronounced. It sounds like potte.

This ad from Fido reminded me of six expressions used in Québec related to dogs (and bitches):

1. ton chien est mort
2. avoir du chien
3. fucker le chien
4. avoir la chienne
5. donner la chienne
6. c’est chien

Ton chien est mort. You’re shit outta luck!

1. ton chien est mort

If your dog is dead, it’s because your chances of achieving something have all gone out the window.

Imagine you’re a guy who really wants to go out with a certain girl you’ve been interested in for a long time. Just when you’ve finally worked up the courage to ask her out, you discover she’s begun going out with a guy a thousand times more attractive than you… Fuhgeddaboudit, guy. Ain’t gonna happen. Your dog is dead. Ton chien est mort. You no longer stand a chance!

You can also say mon chien est mort and son chien est mort.

2. avoir du chien

If you’ve “got dog,” it’s because you’re determined. You’ve got personality. You’re a go-getter.

Ces deux jeunes-là ont du chien et réalisent de grandes choses.
Those two young people are go-getters and are doing big things.

Elle a du talent et du chien.
She’s got talent and determination.

3. fucker le chien

Fucker le chien?This expression literally means “to fuck the dog.”

The idea behind this expression is to waste time or go around in circles trying to accomplish something.

A variation on this expression is fourrer le chien. The verb fourrer also means “to fuck.”

Fucker is pronounced foquer.

J’ai fucké le chien dans ma jeunesse.
I did fuck-all in my youth.

J’ai fucké le chien pour modifier mon mot de passe.
I had a fuck of a hard time trying to change my password.

J’ai fucké le chien avec ça pendant deux mois.
I had a fuck of a hard time with that for two months.

4. avoir la chienne

Une chienne is the female form of chien. So, this expression literally means “to have the bitch.” If you’ve got the bitch, it’s because you’re terrified, frightened.

This expression has in fact already appeared twice on OffQc.

In entry #225, a character called Brigitte from the television show 30 vies tells a colleague she must get tested for cancer. She admits to being terrified:

J’ai tellement la chienne.
I’m so terrified.

In entry #238, we saw that a newspaper headline read:

Les libraires ont la chienne
Booksellers are terrified

The newspaper article was about how booksellers are terrified at the idea of becoming irrelevant due to the advent of the iPad.

5. donner la chienne

This is similar to number 4; donner la chienne means to terrify, to frighten.

Ça me donne la chienne.
It frightens me.

Les hôpitaux me donnent la chienne.
Hospitals terrify me.

6. c’est chien

In this expression, chien means méchant.

C’est chien de dire ça, mais c’est vrai.
It’s a nasty thing to say, but it’s true.

C’est vraiment chien ce que t’as fait.
What you did was really mean.

C’est vraiment chien ce que je vais dire, mais…
What I’m about to say is really nasty, but…

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‘Gosses’ are definitely not the same thing in Québec and France

If you missed my Facebook update yesterday pointing to a guest post I wrote on Benjamin’s blog French Together, be sure to take a look:

3 funny differences between French in France and in Québec

In that post, one of the things I wrote about was the difference in meaning on either side of the Atlantic of the word gosses.

In France, gosses means “kids” — as in those little people who pee their bed at night and throw spaghetti across the table at suppertime.

But, in Québec, gosses means “balls” — as in those two round things that men sport between their legs and are otherwise known as the family jewels.

Yikes, that’s quite a difference in meaning.

Imagine an angry French father who says:

Touche pas à mes gosses.

The French hear: “Hands off my kids.”
The Québécois hear: “Hands off my balls.”

Oh boy.

All joking aside, the Québécois are fully aware of the European meaning of the word gosses.

If a French person says gosses, his intention is understood by the Québécois, who’ll know he isn’t talking about testicles.

That said, gosses as a feminine noun really is the québécois equivalent for nuts or balls, so it’s best to stick with enfants when talking about kids in Québec.

It must sound funny to the French when they hear the Québécois refer to testicles as “the kids.”

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In a recent blog post in the form of an open letter, Rabii Rammal writes about a trip to the épicerie (grocery store) to buy Kinder Surprise — for himself.

But he’s embarrassed about having to pay for the Kinder Surprise at the cash (he’s a fully grown man, after all).

So he picks up another item at the store to divert attention from his Kinder Surprise. He picks up des échalotes (shallots).

He chose this item to divert attention from his Kinder Surprise because: des échalotes, ça fait « je sais où j’m’en vais dans la vie ». Ça fait « j’ai des REER ». (Shallots say, “I know where I’m going in life. They say, “I’ve got RRSPs.”)

After he pays, he goes back to his car and throws the shallots on the back seat: il garroche les échalotes sur la banquette arrière. Then he begins savagely opening his Kinder Surprise.

Rabii is dismayed when he discovers that his beloved Kinder Surprise have been modified, such that there are now Kinder Surprise for boys (blue) and Kinder Surprise for girls (pink).

He says: Oh ben tabarnak. Oui. Y’ont fait ça : ils ont sexué les Kinder Surprise. (Oh well fuck. Yes. They’ve done it. They’ve genderised Kinder Surprise.)

He says that when you’re a kid, it doesn’t matter whether Kinder Surprise is for boys or for girls, parce que quand t’es kid, peu importe ton sexe, c’est toujours hot en criss une toupie (because when you’re a kid, no matter what sex you are, it’s always fuckin’ amazing to get a spinning top).

You can read Rabii’s entire letter, called Cher génie du marketing qui a mis des pénis et des vagins sur les Kinder Surprise. (Dear marketing genius who put penises and vaginas on Kinder Surprise.) You’ll learn lots of everyday Québécois French by reading Rabii Rammal.

_ _ _

une épicerie, a grocery store
une échalote, a shallot
je sais où je m’en vais, I know where I’m going
un REER (pronounced ré-èr), an RRSP
garrocher, to throw
la banquette arrière, the back seat
oh ben tabarnak, oh well fuck
quand t’es kid, when you’re a kid
c’est hot en criss, it’s fuckin’ amazing
une toupie, a (spinning) top

_ _ _

French text by: Rabii Rammal, «Cher génie du marketing qui a mis des pénis et des vagins sur les Kinder Surprise», Urbania, Montréal, 6 February 2014.

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Here’s a video of Ricardo describing the correct way to melt chocolate. There are some interesting things to note about the language in this video:

  • You’ve a great example of the dzidzu in this clip. At 1:18, Ricardo says the word dur, which you’ll hear very distinctly pronounced as dzur.
  • The expression une espèce de means “a sort of.” For example, le bonobo est une espèce de singe (the bonobo is a sort of ape). But Ricardo doesn’t say une espèce de in this clip; he says un espèce de. The feminine form is considered to be the “correct” one, so it’s best to use that one in writing. But note that you’ll also hear the masculine when people speak spontaneously.
  • The third-person singular form of the verb bouillir is bout. For example, l’eau bout (the water is boiling). If we follow the rules of written French, bout becomes bouille in the subjunctive: on veut pas que ça bouille. But Ricardo says boue instead: on veut pas que ça boue. There’s a helpful article from the OQLF about the verb bouillir. They use the word erreur to describe anything that deviates from the usual rules, but these “errors” are so prevalent that it seems misguided to call them that. Still, you should probably follow the rules in writing. Here’s a complete conjugation of the verb bouillir.

Quand on veut faire fondre du chocolat, le problème qu’on rencontre souvent c’est que plutôt que de le faire fondre, on le fait cuire. Et là, notre chocolat va devenir granuleux, et si on le fait refiger, souvent vous allez voir apparaître en surface un espèce de film un peu blanc.

Donc, pour mettre toutes les chances de notre côté, ce que je vous conseille d’utiliser, c’est un bain-marie. Un bain-marie, c’est une casserole avec un peu d’eau au fond. Faut pas que l’eau touche à la partie supérieure du bain-marie. Ce qui va faire fondre notre chocolat, c’est la vapeur, température égale, et on veut pas non plus que ça boue, ça va être trop chaud. Juste frémir, c’est parfait.

L’autre chose très importante, c’est de hacher le chocolat assez finement. Plus il sera haché, plus il va fondre rapidement.

Faites fondre le chocolat tout doucement, jusqu’à ce qu’il soit fondu à peu près aux trois quarts. Après ça, on ferme le feu; la chaleur résiduelle va faire le reste. Faites attention de jamais échapper une goutte d’eau dans cette préparation-là parce que le chocolat risque de figer. Si jamais ça vous arrive, ben ajoutez encore un peu plus d’eau. Ça va refondre et vous allez avoir quelque chose de soyeux et de lisse.

Par contre, ça redeviendra jamais dur. Mais pour une fondue au chocolat, par exemple, y’a pas de problème. Fondu tout doucement comme ça, vous allez avoir un chocolat parfait pour réaliser n’importe quelle recette. Il faut qu’il soit soyeux, brillant, onctueux.

J’aurais pu aussi faire fondre mon chocolat au micro-ondes, mais c’est délicat. Alors si vous voulez vous essayer, faites-le à puissance «médium», jamais plus de vingt secondes à la fois, remuez parce que le chocolat va fondre sans perdre sa forme. Ça c’est vraiment la façon la plus sécure de le faire — au bain-marie.

faire fondre du chocolat, to melt chocolate
faire cuire du chocolat, to cook chocolate
granuleux, rough, lumpy
faire figer du chocolat, to solidify chocolat
un espèce de film, a sort of film
pour mettre toutes les chances de notre côté, to be on the safe side
un bain-marie, you can read what a bain-marie is on Wikipédia
on veut pas non plus que ça boue, it shouldn’t boil either
frémir, to tremble, shake (just before boiling point)
échapper une goutte d’eau, to drop a drop of water
soyeux, silky
lisse, smooth
onctueux, smooth, creamy
au micro-ondes, in the microwave
s’essayer, to have a go
remuer, to stir
sécure, safe (sécure is borrowed from English; OQLF gives examples)

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Six oranges, check. Five tomatoes, check. One locally grown child, check.

Last week, I went to a supermarket called Maxi.

At Maxi, you have to put une piasse (1 $) into a device on le panier (shopping cart) to release it from the other ones. The panier only accepts one-dollar coins.

When I had finished shopping and returned my panier, two women approached me. One of them asked if she could take my piasse in exchange for four quarters so that she could take a panier.

She asked:

Est-ce que je peux prendre ta piasse pour quatre vingt-cinq sous?
Can I take your loonie [one-dollar coin] for four quarters?

At Maxi, there’s a large sign posted at the spot where customers return their paniers in the parking lot, le stationnement.

I took a photo of the sign so that you could see it and learn French vocabulary from it.

Some of the vocabulary on the sign includes: dépôt, se procurer un panier, retourner le panier, magasiner, passer à la caisse, déverrouiller un panier, monnaie, jeton réutilisable.

The word panier doesn’t just refer to shopping carts with wheels, though.

I found another sign that uses the word panier on it at the entrance to a store called Dollarama.

On this sign, shoppers are told to use a panier (basket) when shopping in the store, and not one of their own sacs réutilisables, reusable bags.

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French-language purists will tell you not to use the words below, but you gotta know ’em if you want to understand the Québécois!

We won’t concern ourselves with the ideas of the purists here. We’ll let them squabble amongst themselves as we get down to the more important work of learning French.

Even though these words are often referred to as anglicismes or as examples of franglais, I don’t see a reason why we can’t just think of them as French words that entered the language by way of English.

That said, it’s important to know that these words are reserved to informal speaking situations. They’re not used in formal speech or writing.

The examples below are not the only way those ideas can be expressed in French. For example, although you’ll hear a tattoo called un tatou in Québec, you’ll also come across the standardised tatouage. In the list below, we’ll just look at ways you might hear things said using a word taken from English.

If you like this list of 31 gotta-knows, there’s also a list of 50 must-knows and a list of 30 full-québécois on OffQc.

If you learn everything in those 3 posts, that’s 111 MB of example sentences uploaded to your brain. And if you learn everything on OffQc, then your brain will definitely need a memory upgrade pretty soon. 🙂

1. Tu m’as fait feeler cheap.
You made me feel bad (about myself).

2. Je badtripe là-dessus.
I’m worried sick about it.

3. J’ai eu un gros down.
I got really down.

4. C’est tough sur le moral.
It’s tough on your morale.

5. C’est weird en masse.
That’s totally weird.

6. Ce médicament me rend stone.
This medication stones me out.

7. C’est tellement cute son accent.
His accent is so cute.

8. Ça m’a donné un gros rush.
It got me all pumped up.

9. Mon boss est venu me voir.
My boss came to see me.

10. À l’heure du lunch, je fais de l’exercice.
I exercise at lunchtime.

11. Ça clique pas entre nous.
We don’t click with each other.

12. C’est pas cher, mais c’est de la scrap.
It’s not expensive, but it’s junk.

13. C’est roffe à regarder.
It’s tough [rough] to watch.

14. Je sais pas dealer avec ça.
I don’t know how to deal with this.

15. J’ai mis une patch sur la partie usée.
I put a patch on the worn-out part.

16. Es-tu game pour un concours?
Are you up for a contest?

17. J’ai rushé sur mes devoirs.
I rushed my homework.

18. Y’a un gros spot blanc sur l’écran.
There’s a big white spot on the screen.

19. Je veux vivre ma vie à full pin.
I want to live my life to the max.

20. Le voisin m’a blasté.
The neighbour chewed me out.

21. J’ai un kick sur mon prof de français.
I’ve got a crush on my French prof.

22. T’as l’air full sérieux sur cette photo.
You look full serious in this photo.

23. Écoute ça, tu vas triper!
Listen to this, you’re gonna totally love it!

24. Viens me voir, j’ai fuck all à faire.
Come see me, I’ve got fuck all to do.

25. J’aime les idées flyées.
I like ideas that are really out there.

26. J’ai pas de cravate pour matcher avec ma chemise.
I don’t have a tie to go with my shirt.

27. Je t’ai forwardé sa réponse.
I forwarded her answer to you.

28. Elle a un gros tatou sur l’épaule.
She’s got a huge tattoo on her shoulder.

29. Ça me fait freaker.
It freaks me out.

30. Merci, on a eu un fun noir!
Thanks, we had an amazing time!

31. J’ai lâché ma job parce que j’étais en burn out.
I quit my job because I was burnt out.

_ _ _

Although I’ve written the examples in this post myself, they were inspired by Maude Schiltz‘s book Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer and by Rabii Rammal‘s blog posts on Urbania, both of which I encourage you to check out.

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Full québécois panties!

Congratulations to Danny from Boston who won a copy of the film La grande séduction on DVD!

Wow, you guys are great. The sentences you submitted to participate in the contest are all full québécois!

Here’s a selection of the sentences you submitted, with some minor changes. I’ve also shortened a few sentences for simplicity. Enjoy!

1. Toute la gang est allée chercher de quoi manger au dépanneur. [Jennifer]
The whole gang went to get something to eat at the dépanneur.

2. Mets ta tuque, y fait frette! [Jennifer]
Put your hat on, it’s cold out!

3. Je vais prendre le char et aller magasiner cet après-midi. [Jennifer]
I’m going to take the car and go shopping this afternoon.

4. J’vas te donner une claque si t’arrêtes pas de brailler. [Armand]
I’m gonna give you a slap if you don’t stop crying.

5. Mon crisse de chien jappe sans cesse. [Armand]
My goddamn dog keeps on barking.

6. Sors les vidanges, ça sent le diable! [Ilona]
Take out the garbage, it reeks!

7. T’as-tu eu du fun hier soir? [Ilona]
Did you have fun last night?

8. J’ai écouté un bon film la semaine dernière. [Ilona]
I watched a good movie last week.

9. J’ai fait un peu de magasinage en ligne. [Ilona]
I did some online shopping.

10. Je veux pas péter ta balloune, mais c’est pas mal illégal. [Danny de Boston]
I don’t wanna burst your bubble, but it’s pretty illegal.

11. Chu tellement poche en mathématiques. [Danny de Boston]
I really suck at mathematics.

12. Tabarnak, un autre avantage numérique pour les Bruins! [Janet]
Fuck, another powerplay for the Bruins!

13. T’as-tu passé une bonne fête hier? [Janet]
Did you have a good birthday [or other celebration] yesterday?

14. Mon chum et moi, on s’en va au dépanneur. [Janet]
Me and my boyfriend are going to the dépanneur.

15. Ch’peux-tu ouvrir la télé? [Edgardo]
Can I turn the TV on?

16. T’es ben niaiseux, boludo! [Edgardo]
You’re so stupid, boludo!

Edgardo is a diehard fan of Québécois French from Argentina, where boludo is typically associated with the variety of castellano that he speaks. I’ll let you discover the meaning of boludo on his blog!

17. Ce concours est le fun au boutte! [César]
This contest is fun to the max!

18. Enweille Félix, t’es capable! [César]
Come on Félix, you can do it!

19. Le film que j’ai vu hier, c’était full poche! [César]
The movie I saw yesterday sucked big time!

20. La salle était bondée, y avait full de monde! [David]
The room was full, it was jam-packed with people!

21. Dernièrement, je trippe ben raide sur cette toune-là. [David]
Lately, I’ve been totally crazy about that song.

22. Y’est-tu fin le chum à Marie? [David]
Is Marie’s boyfriend nice?

23. Sérieusement, la politique? J’m’en câlisse comme de l’an 40. [David]
Seriously, politics? I don’t give a flying fuck.

24. Coudon, t’es ben ben magané! [Dejah]
Jeez, you’re in really really rough shape!

25. Toi pis moi, on va ben ensemble. [Dejah]
You and me, we make a good pair.

26. Mes enfants font trop de bruit à matin, j’ai mon voyage! [Dejah]
My kids are making too much noise this morning, I’ve had it!

27. OK, c’est-tu assez? [Robert]
OK, is that enough?

28. Ça donne un méchant buzz! [Robert]
This’ll give you a huge buzz!

29. Peux-tu me donner un lift? Mon char est magané. [Sina]
Can you give me a lift? My car’s all beat up.

30. Wô minute, là! Tu me niaises? [Sina]
Hold on a minute there! Are you kidding me?

Thanks for participating everybody. You’re the reason I love working on OffQc so much. 🙂

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