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Archive for April, 2014

I was messaging back and forth with a reader of OffQc who was curious to know how to say “tic-tac-toe” (exes and ohs, noughts and crosses) in Québécois French. He wanted to know if the game is called morpion in Québec.

The game is called tic-tac-toe in Québec. On the other hand, you may hear the French call the game morpion instead.

But that word — morpion — is in fact used in Québec. But it means something else, something much more blood-suckingly sinister.

Crabs.

Not the seafood kind of crabs, but the in-your-crotch kind of crabs. The STD kind of crabs. Not gonna post a picture here, don’t worry.

That’s because crab lice are called morpions in French. Both the Québécois and the French call crab lice morpions.

Here’s a page from the Québec Ministry of Health about morpions, if you’re interested. It’s an easy read geared towards younger people, where you can pick up some vocab about the subject, like:

avoir des morpions
to have crabs

se débarrasser des morpions
to get rid of crabs

Ils s’agrippent aux poils du pubis.
They [les morpions] cling to hair on the pubis.

The website, called À bien y penser (When you think about it), is more generally about protecting yourself during sex. There’s a French and English version; you can refer to the English when you don’t understand the French. I’m not sure how long it will stay up in this current version, so check it out sooner than later if you want to learn more vocab in this area.

When you think about it... with a condom, there's no need to hold back. À bien y penser... avec un condom, pas besoin de te retenir.

When you think about it… with a condom, there’s no need to hold back. À bien y penser… avec un condom, pas besoin de te retenir.

Other things you can read on the site include:

Un condom pour sucer?
Allô! J’ai une question : est-ce que je dois demander à mon chum de mettre un condom avant de lui faire une pipe? Je ne voudrais pas avoir une ITS. Est-ce qu’on peut attraper une ITS par la bouche?

A condom for oral sex?
Hi! I have a question: should I ask my boyfriend to put on a condom before I give him a blow job? I wouldn’t like to get an STI. Can you catch an STI through the mouth?

mettre un condom
to put on a condom
(condom is pronounced condon)

faire une pipe à mon chum
to give my boyfriend a blow job

une ITS (infection transmissible sexuellement)
an STI (sexually transmissible infection)

Condom avec mon ex?
Je viens de reprendre avec ma blonde. On s’est laissés pendant quelques mois, mais avant, on a été ensemble un an. On ne mettait pas de condom parce qu’elle prenait la pilule et qu’on était fidèles. Certaines personnes m’ont dit qu’elle avait été avec d’autres gars depuis qu’on s’est laissés. En fin de semaine, on est supposés de se voir et je me demandais si j’étais mieux de mettre un condom. Merci à l’avance pour votre réponse.

A condom with my ex?
I’ve just got back together with my girlfriend again. We didn’t go out together for a few months, but before that, we were together for a year. We didn’t use a condom because she was taking the pill and we were faithful to each other. Some people have told me that she’s been with other guys since we broke up. We’re supposed to see each other on the weekend and I was wondering if I should use a condom. Thank you in advance for your answer.

je viens de reprendre avec ma blonde
I’ve just got back together with my girlfriend

on ne mettait pas de condom
we didn’t use condoms before

elle prenait la pilule
she was taking the pill

elle a été avec d’autres gars
she was with other guys [for sex]

est-ce que je suis mieux de mettre un condom?
should I use a condom?

P.S. Just kidding about not posting an image of the crab louse. 🙂

un morpion

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You’ll definitely want to check out this tumblr:

Notre Québec : Un crayon français, des mots québécois

French tumblr-er MarieBee (real-life Marie-Bénédict Jacquemin) picks a Québécois French expression and puts it into a deliciously sketched image.

When you mouse over the image, its definition appears.

She’s drawn some expressions that we’ve already seen on OffQc, like:

Y cogne des clous
He’s nodding off to sleep
Review on OffQc here

Eille, casse-toi pas le bécik!
Hey, don’t complicate things on yourself!
Review on OffQc here

Y’est parti y’inque s’une gosse
He left lickety-split
Review on OffQc here

Tire-toi une bûche
Pull up a seat
Review on OffQc here

Il a eu la chienne
He took a fright
Review on OffQc here

An expression we haven’t looked at is c’est pas chaud pour la pompe à l’eau, explained as such: se dit d’un climat qui est frisquet au point d’être perceptible pour les organes génitaux. [!]

Thanks to Maude for pointing me to this.

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Yesterday, we looked at how to talk about jeans that don’t fit in French. Today, let’s look at a fun expression used in Québec related to pants that are way too short!

First, know that in Québec the basement of a house is often called la cave. It’s also known as le sous-sol, but you’ll need to know the word cave to understand today’s expression.

Imagine your basement, or cave, flooded with water. You’d have to roll up the bottom of your pants or trousers before going down to the cave to take care of business, right?

When your pants are rolled up, they look too short. So, if you heard someone say that so-and-so has “water in the basement,” it’s a funny way of saying that his pants are too short!

avoir de l’eau dans la cave
to be wearing pants that are too short
(literally, to have water in the basement)

Remember, dans la often contracts to dans in conversations. So, when you hear people in fact say avoir de l’eau dans cave, it’s not a grammatical mistake; it’s an informal shortcut in pronunciation.

I found this example online about someone who hates how his pants look so short when he gets up on his motorbike:

Je déteste avoir de l’eau dans cave quand je m’assis sur le bike.
I hate how my pants look so short when I get on the bike.

Without wanting to get too far off topic, you may sometimes come across the conjugation je m’assis in Québec. If you use it yourself, francophones may correct you: it’s not the standard form in Québec. I recommend you learn what it means (i.e., I sit) but say or write je m’assois instead. This always works.

As for the difference between the forms je m’assois and je m’assieds, the first one (je m’assois) is used more often in spoken Québécois French than the second one (je m’assieds).

Finally, to say “to wear a pair of pants,” you can use either porter un pantalon or porter des pantalons. For some people, pantalons in the plural is less correct than pantalon in the singular. In a written text, you can avoid all doubt and use the singular. Otherwise, know that both are used.

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Mes jeans ne me font plus!

Ah shit, mes jeans ne me font plus

Maude Schiltz’s book Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer (tome 1) is such a treasure trove of French written in a down-to-earth, conversational style that I always have trouble deciding what we should look at next.

Today, I picked something from her book that I think a lot of us can relate to after winter — jeans that don’t quite fit like they did before winter. All those Timbits really add up, you know?

In Maude’s case though, her jeans don’t fit because of chemotherapy. The treatment has caused her to gain weight. Maude describes her experience:

J’ai eu une phase où je mangeais comme un ogre, mais depuis, mon appétit est revenu à ce qu’il était, et pourtant je continue à trouver mes jeans de plus en plus tight chaque fois que j’essaie de les mettre. D’ailleurs la plupart ne me font plus. Câlisse.

I went through a phase where I ate like a beast but, since then, my appetite has returned to normal — and yet I still find my jeans getting tighter and tighter every time I try to put them on. As a matter of fact, most of them don’t fit me anymore. Fuck.

The part in particular that made me choose this quote was where Maude says: la plupart [de mes jeans] ne me font plus. More than once I’ve noticed a French-language learner hesitate when wanting to talk about a piece of clothing that doesn’t fit.

Mes jeans ne me font plus.
My jeans don’t fit me anymore.

On the other hand, if an article of clothing te fait bien, it fits and looks good on you. Ça te fait bien ce chandail-là!

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French quote written by Maude Schiltz in Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer (tome 1), Éditions de Mortagne, Boucherville (Québec), 2013, page 186.

You can follow Maude on Facebook through the link right above.

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un gros party à la maison avec la gang du bureau

The OQLF’s name in full is Office québécois de la langue française. Have you ever wondered about the meaning of the masculine word office?

Office is a French word, but it looks just a little like the English word “office,” doesn’t it? The French word office doesn’t come from the English word “office,” though. The OQLF would never dare use an English word in its name!

The French word office comes from Latin, and the English word “office” comes from French.

In the OQLF’s name, office means “bureau” or “agency.” Office québécois de la langue française means “French Language Bureau of Québec” or “French Language Agency of Québec.”

Don’t confuse the French words office and bureau. When you’re talking about the office at the company you work for, use bureau.

Je dois aller au bureau.
I have to go to the office.

Lui, c’est un collègue de bureau.
He’s an office co-worker.

J’ai fait un gros party à la maison avec la gang du bureau.
I held a big house party with my friends from the office.

Remember, la gang in Québec is pronounced like its English equivalent “gang.” In France, gang sounds like “gong,” is masculine, and isn’t used in the sense of a group of friends, like in Québec.

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Opération nid de poule

Opération nid de poule

I saw this vehicle in a Montréal street the other day. On the side, it says:

Opération nid de poule…
Operation Pothole!

Or as Rupert and Samantha would say:

Operation Hen’s Nest

The driver was using a large hose to blow the dirt and stones out of potholes so that they could be refilled.

According to the Usito dictionary from Québec, you can use the spelling nid-de-poule (with hyphens) or nid de poule (without hyphens).

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How do francophones in Québec say the address numbers in the image?

As a number on its own when counting, you probably already know how to say 7155 in French:

sept-mille-cent-cinquante-cinq*

But note that when francophones say four-digit numbers in an address, they often employ a shortcut:

soixante-et-onze cinquante-cinq

So, if someone lived in rue des Offcois, you’ll hear people say colloquially:

soixante-et-onze cinquante-cinq, rue des Offcois
soixante-et-onze cinquante-trois, rue des Offcois
soizante-et-onze cinquante-et-un, rue des Offcois
soixante-et-onze quarante-neuf, rue des Offcois

What about telephone numbers?

If someone’s telephone number were 514-555-6542, you might hear:

cinq-un-quatre,
cinq-cinq-cinq,
soixante-cinq quarante-deux

Other people might say:

cinq-cinq-cinq
soixante-cinq quarante-deux,
dans le cinq-un-quatre

My Spanish-speaking friends have a tendency of saying the code régional (area code) like this in French: cinq-cent-quatorze. Although you’d be understood, it’s not how francophones say it. The numbers that make up the area code are said individually: cinq-un-quatre.

It’s common to say the last four digits of a telephone number in pairs (soixante-cinq quarante-deux), but if you find it easier, you can of course also say six-cinq-quatre-deux.

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*This is the way you spell 7155 in words according to the orthographe rectifiée for numbers. Basically, you just put a hyphen between everything! You can download a PDF about French spelling changes here.

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