Archive for April, 2014

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:


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:

soixante-cinq quarante-deux

Other people might say:

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.

_ _ _

*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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Un selfie spatial

Recently on OffQc, we saw the image of a sign in Montréal that used the word le selfie on it. The selfie is a photo taken of yourself with your phone.

Meanwhile, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) has stated their preference for two different words in an attempt to replace selfie:

une autophoto, and
un égoportrait

As a learner of French, have you ever wondered if you should actually use the words that the OQLF prefers? It’s up to you, of course, but remember that a word preferred by the OQLF is just a proposition, unless it takes hold.

An OQLF-preferred word isn’t necessarily the actual word in use in Québec. It’s the word that the OQLF has decided they’d like to see in use, but this is not the same thing as what the Québécois themselves say in regular conversations.

I think it’s safe to say the québécois word for “selfie” is still selfie.

In a Wikipédia article about the word selfie, the introduction reads:

Un selfie (déclinaison du terme anglais self, « soi »), autophoto ou encore égoportrait1 au Québec, est un autoportrait photographique réalisé avec un appareil photographique numérique, un téléphone mobile (téléphone intelligent ou photophone) voire une webcam puis téléversé sur les réseaux sociaux (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, et autres Flickr) […].

I take issue with the wording: égoportrait au Québec. Québec and the OQLF are not the same thing. In theory, égoportrait may have a certain currency in Québec because the OQLF has backed it, but that doesn’t make it the standard word in use by speakers of the language.

I think it’s important to remember that an OQLF-preferred word is not a Québécois French word unless it’s adopted by the population en masse.

My opinion: as a learner of French, use an OQLF-preferred word if the native speakers have chosen to adopt it. Otherwise, wish it good luck and stick with what the natives say. What do you think?

Image: Wikipedia

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I saw a sign today using the verb se ramasser here in Montréal, so let’s review this verb. First things first: pronunciation.

The verb ramasser is pronounced ramâsser. That â sound in there comes close to how “aww” sounds in English. It’s only the second a that’s pronounced “aww,” not the first one.

You may remember that ramasser was included in this list of 50 words using the â sound in Québec but not written with the accented â.



In entry #664, we saw a little sign on a tree that told dog owners to pick up their dog crap from the street. The sign says:

Ramassez, câlisse!
Pick it up, for fuck’s sake!

OK, no, it doesn’t. It just says ramassez! They’re much more polite than me.

In entry #437, the mother in the television show Les Parent is tired of her sons’ messiness.

She uses the verb se ramasser when she says:

Ce que je vous dis souvent aussi c’est de ranger pis de vous ramasser.
What I often also tell you is to tidy up and to pick up after yourselves.

Ranger means “to tidy up.” But se ramasser is “to pick up after oneself.”

If you heard a parent say ramasse-toi to a child, the parent has said “pick up after yourself.”

On se ramasse tous ensemble

The sign that I saw today in Montréal encourages residents of the city to come together and clean up after ourselves in public places (streets, sidewalks, alleys, etc.). The sign says:

On se ramasse tous ensemble
Let’s pick up after ourselves all together

The sign says that we can sign up for the corvée. Une corvée is work carried out in public. The work is voluntary. In the case of this corvée in particular, we’re dealing with une corvée de propreté where residents come together to clean up.

If you live in Montréal, you know that the streets here look pretty nasty after all the snow has melted away in the spring…

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A little while back, we saw how the feminine word gosses means “balls” or “nuts” in Québec.

Remember, in France gosses are kids; nothing to do with testicles. In Québec, you won’t want to use gosses to talk about kids — not unless the kids you’re talking about are the ones that guys have between their legs.

An expression you’ll hear sooner or later in Québec using the feminine word gosse is: rien que sur une gosse.

What could this possibly mean?

J’ai sacré mon camp rien que sur une gosse.
I got the hell outta there right away.

Chu parti rien que sur une gosse.
I left really fast, as fast as I could, etc.

rien que sur une gosse
really fast, right away, etc.

When people speak informally, you know that certain sounds tend to get swallowed up.

You may hear the expression pronounced as: rien qu’s’une gosse (rienk sune gosse), or even ‘ien qu’s’une gosse (yienk sune gosse).

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