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Archive for May, 2014

We’ve seen in past entries how sur le and sur la have a tendency of contracting during everyday conversations in French.

sur le can become
su’l

sur la can become
s’a

This means you might hear, for example, sur le bord pronounced as su’l bord. Do you remember the expression c’est s’a coche? This is an informal way of saying that something is amazing, the best. The s’a in this expression is a contraction of sur la.

One contraction that we haven’t looked at much and also using sur is the contraction formed when sur and les come together:

sur les can become
s’es

I’ll put you to the challenge of learning to hear the contracted form s’es in Lisa LeBlanc’s song J’pas un cowboy.

Listen to this part of the song (video below), which begins at 1:14:

J’ai pas de belt avec un fusil
But j’ai un beau coat de cuir

Avec des franges s’es manches pour que ça seye crédible

I don’t have a belt with a gun
But I’ve got a nice leather coat
With tassels on the sleeves to make it authentic

s’es manches
= sur les manches

pour que ça seye crédible
= pour que ça soit crédible

Lisa LeBlanc may be from New Brunswick, but the contracted form s’es can also be heard in Québec when people speak French informally.

You don’t need to start using these informal contractions yourself, but you do need to be able to recognise them.

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«Tu files pas, tu m'appelles, OK?» [heard in 19-2]

«Tu files pas, tu m’appelles, OK?» [heard on the TV show 19-2]

In today’s entry, let’s focus our attention on the informal verb feeler heard in Québécois French.

We’ve seen the verb feeler come up in a few entries lately, so I’ve pulled together all examples of it on OffQc to see them here in one spot.

The verb feeler (sounds like filé) means “to feel” — we’ll see in what ways below — and is an informal usage only, borrowed from English.

Because this verb is largely an oral usage and not permitted in the standard form of French used in Québec, you’ll see different spellings applied to it when it manages to show up in writing. For example, you might see the first-person present tense spelled as je feel (and j’feel), je file (and j’file) and sometimes as je feele (and j’feele).

The informally contracted j’ sounds like ch before the letter f. So j’feel sounds like chfile.

In fact, the verb feeler isn’t a strictly québécois usage because, in entry #805, la Néo-Brunswickoise Lisa LeBlanc uses it in her song J’pas un cowboy when she sings these lyrics:

1. J’feel toute seule en calvaire.
I feel lonely as hell.

In the description of that same entry, we also saw:

2. J’feel pas ben.
I don’t feel good.

In entry #525, we looked at these examples of feeler:

3. Y file pas ce soir.
He doesn’t feel good this evening.

4. J’file pas fort ce matin.
I don’t feel great this morning.

Those last two sentences could also be said as:

5. Y file pas à soir.
6. J’file pas fort à matin.

That’s because à matin and à soir exist alongside ce matin and ce soir in Québec. The more formal the language is, the more likely you are to encounter the forms using ce.

In entry #748, we saw faire feeler cheap:

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

In entry #155, we saw this example of feeler taken from a television series from Québec called 19-2:

8. Tu files pas, tu m’appelles, OK?
(If) you don’t feel good, you call me, OK?

The French word si (if) wasn’t used here, but it’s understood. Also, in this scene from 19-2, the character was emotionally down rather than physically ill.

In entry #796, we saw a few more examples of feeler:

9. Je file tout croche.
I feel bad. I don’t feel good.

10. Je file cheap en maudit.
I feel so damn bad (e.g., for something said or done).

11. Je file pas ben pantoute.
I don’t feel good at all.

You’ll notice in 3, 5 and 8 there’s no word to describe the person’s state, like ben. It’s just the verb followed by pas (y file pas, tu files pas, j’feel pas, etc.). If someone “doesn’t feel,” it’s understood the person “doesn’t feel good.”

With your friends from Québec, there’s no problem using these examples. You wouldn’t want to use them in more formal writing and speaking situations though, or in front of particularly persnickety persons or frustratingly fussy French profs. (You’ll forgive me for my horrible alliterations because I’m writing this at 5 o’clock in the morning.)

If you needed to avoid these examples, you could say things like:

Je me sens mal.
Ça [ne] va pas.
Je [ne] me sens pas bien.
Je vais mal.
Je me sens malade.
Je suis malade…

Here are four more example sentences for good measure!

12. J’feel pas assez pour fêter avec vous autres.
I don’t feel good enough to celebrate with you guys.

13. J’file pas ben ben aujourd’hui.
I’m not feeling so hot today.

14. Désolé, mais j’feel pas ton texte.
I’m not “feeling” what you wrote (e.g, article, essay).
What you wrote isn’t doing it for me.

15. Je commence à pas ben feeler.
I’m starting to not feel good.

Image credit: Leonid Mamchenkov

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(official site)

César asks if I can write a little about Acadian French and Chiac on OffQc.

I haven’t spent enough time around speakers of Acadian French to be able to do here what I do with Québécois French. But what if we took a look from time to time at some of Lisa LeBlanc’s music? In this way, maybe you can infer certain things about Lisa LeBlanc’s variety of French without me having to explicitly say things like “this is Acadian.”

First, let’s return to Lisa LeBlanc’s song Câlisse-moi là. (You can read what câlisse-moi là means here.) We’ll look at another song of hers farther down.

In this song, you’ll very clearly hear the “aww” sound made by the accented â when Lisa pronounces the word câlisse. This sound is also used in Québec. It’s the sound you’ll hear in words like pâtes, fâché and ramasser.

There are three things in this song that strike me as less Québécois and more the variety of French spoken by Lisa LeBlanc, who, remember, is not from Québec but New Brunswick:

1. so
2. j’te bette
3. rolled r

1. so

We looked at Lisa’s use of the word so in her chorus here. Remember, the Québécois say faque instead of so, or at least this is the case in cities like Montréal and Québec. You can also hear so among franco-Ontarian speakers who live farther away from the borders of Québec.

2. j’te bette

In one line, Lisa sings: j’te bette que t’es pas game, or “I bet (you) that you’re not game.” Here, game means “willing,” and this informal usage is also used in Québec. On the other hand, I’d say that the verb most frequently used in Québec in the sense of “to bet” is gager. In Québec, you could say: j’te gage que t’es pas game.

3. rrrrr

Listen to how Lisa pronounces words like rut, vrai and peureux. Can you hear her rolled r? In Montréal, that rolled r used to be in common use up until about the middle of the 1900s. The rolled r today, in Montréal, is associated with older speakers. From what I understand, the rolled r is standard in Acadian French.

Here’s another song by Lisa LeBlanc that you might like: J’pas un cowboy.

Let’s look at these four parts of her song:

1. j’pas
2. pogner
3. tavarne
4. but j’feel

1. j’pas

If you’ve been reading OffQc for a while, you know very well that je suis often contracts to chu. Je ne suis pas un cowboy can be said informally as chu pas un cowboy.

Lisa takes the contraction one step further and pronounces je suis just as a ch sound, which is shown in the title of her song as j’. The j’pas in her title (which means je [ne] suis pas) sounds like chpâ. This can also be heard in Québec.

2. pogner

In one line, Lisa sings about a cowboy hat. She says: pis un chapeau que j’ai pogné à St-Tite, or “and a hat that I picked up in St-Tite.”

St-Tite is in Québec. Every year, there’s a western festival held there.

If you’ve been following along with OffQc for a while, you must be experts in the verb pogner by now, especially in the book title Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer written by Maude Schiltz.

The verb pogner, used very frequently in Québec, usually takes on the sense of “to catch.” Here, in this song, we can say it means “to pick up.”

3. tavarne

Listen to how Lisa pronounces taverne. It sounds like tavarne, right? Pronouncing ar instead of er is often associated with older speakers in Québec. For example, to the ears of someone from Montréal, la porte varte est ouvarte (meaning la porte verte est ouverte) sounds rural or spoken by an older person.

The exception, in Québec, is with vulgar words, which conserve the ar sound in all age groups, like marde, tabarnak and viarge.

When Lisa says tavarne (taverne), it rhymes with farme (ferme) in the line before it. It’s unclear to me if this pronunciation is standard in her variety of French, or if she’s chosen this pronunciation as a stylistic element to sound more folksy. I can’t comment on the social perception of the ar sound (as opposed to er) in Acadian French. If you know something about this, feel free to comment.

4. but j’feel

Lisa says: but j’feel toute seule en calvaire, or “but I feel as lonely as hell.” In Québec, “but” is definitely said as mais. This line would sound perfectly québécois said instead as: mais j’feel toute seule en calvaire.

The verb feeler (also spelled as filer) comes to French via English, and is only used informally. J’feel cheap. I feel bad. I feel like a low-life. J’feel pas ben. I don’t feel good.

We saw in entry #803 (Ma vie, c’est de la marde) the expression en esti, where the comic strip character says: il fait beau en esti, or “it’s fucking nice out.” The expression en calvaire works the same way: j’feel toute seule en calvaire.

There are other elements for us to look at in this song, but let’s leave some stuff for future entries! 😉

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Club Athlétique Mansfield

Club Athlétique Mansfield

I took a photo of these two signs just outside the Club Athlétique Mansfield. Maybe you’ll remember this health club from the motivational signs we looked at a few hundred entries ago in Fuck the excuses (#611) and Be better than your best excuse (#623).

In the first sign, raide means “stiff.”

Un peu raide?
A little stiff?

The word raide is also used informally in Québecois French in the sense of “totally,” often in the word pair ben raide.

Je tripe ben raide sur l’accent québécois!
I totally love the québécois accent!

Chu dans marde ben raide.
I’m so totally screwed.

Je capote raide sur ce gars-là.
I totally love that guy.

Courbaturé from the second sign means “aching” and “sore,” like after a strenuous workout or when you’ve got a cold or the flu. In Québec, an informal word you’ll hear used in the same sense as courbaturé is raqué.

We saw an example of raqué in entry #796:

Je suis raqué et j’ai mal à la gorge.
I’m aching and I’ve got a sore throat.

Guess what?

We can use the words raqué and raide in one new extra-québécois phrase to replace the text on the courbaturé sign:

Raqué ben raide?
Totally sore all over?

If it helps you to remember, the word raqué sounds like the medieval punishment where victims were tortured on the rack.

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ma-vie-cest-de-la-marde-francais-quebecois

Ma vie, c’est d’la marde.

Ma vie, c’est d’la marde.
My life is shitty.
[His life is shitty because he got D+ at school. Well, at least he got the +.]

Stresse pas, bro!
La vie est si belle!
Don’t stress out, bro!
Life is so nice!

C’est vrai, au moins il fait beau en esti!
That’s true, at least it’s fuckin’ nice out!

Hehe, j’niaisais!
Hehe, I was kidding!

_ _ _

[…] en esti, fucking […]
c’est beau en esti!, that’s fucking nice!
t’es hot en esti!, you’re fucking hot!

niaiser, to kid, to joke
arrête de niaiser!, stop kidding around!
me niaises-tu?, are you kidding me?

+ 13 example sentences of the québécois marde here.

Bon lundi!

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The expression "y a qu'à" in the form of all the Americas, Yes, really.

The expression “y a qu’à” in the form of all the Americas. Yes, really.

I can hear you already…

“Felix, you’re crazy. There’s no such thing as ‘yawka’ in French.”

Oh yes there is!

It’s just not spelled that way. When you’re learning a language, do you ever find yourself turning that incomprehensible thing you heard into a weird word… like “yawka”?

Enough suspense!
What’s “yawka”?

In her book Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer, Maude Schiltz uses the mysterious sounding “yawka.” In an email, she tells her friends that if they want to join her and Chrystian for a birthday supper, they just have to call him up and let him know:

[…] vous êtes les bienvenus! Y a qu’à téléphoner à Chrystian pour signaler votre présence : 514.555.1111.

You’re welcome (to join us)! Just call Chrystian to let us know you’ll be there: 514.555.1111.

yawka…
= y a qu’à
= il n’y a qu’à
= il suffit de
= just!

Il n’y a qu’à more literally means something like “all there is to do is…,” but we can simply say it means “just,” followed by a verb in its infinitive form.

Avoir in present, third-person singular (il a) is pronounced â, and you’ll remember that â sounds like “aww” in Québec. This means that â and à don’t sound the same.

Besoin d’aide? Y a qu’à demander!
Need help? Just ask!

Si je me trompe, y a qu’à me le dire.
If I’m mistaken, just tell me.

Remember that y a qu’à is an informal spoken form. Formal writing and speaking uses il n’y a qu’à instead.

But how does il n’y a qu’à become y a qu’à anyway?

First, remember that francophones love to drop the ne in negative constructions when speaking informally. In this expression, the que is enough to signal that it’s in the negative. So, when we drop the ne, this leaves us with il y a qu’à.

Next, remember that il is pronounced informally as i. This gives us i y a qu’à. But when i and y a come together, it’s easier to just morph it all together.

Yawka? Y a qu’à.
Mystère résolu!

_ _ _

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

Follow Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer on Facebook here.

Find all OffQc entries related to Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer here.

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The meals at McDonalds are called trios in French, or at least in Québec they are. Le trio Big Mac is the Big Mac combo.

I know that many of you have learned to say bonjour, je voudrais… when ordering in French. It’s perfectly correct, but I want to give you some more frequently used ways to order. We’ve seen them before on OffQc, but it’s good to review because the number 1 complaint I hear from anglophones is getting the language switch at the cash!

The simplest way to order something is to say bonjour + the name of the thing you want + s’il vous plaît. You don’t need to bother saying introductory stuff like je voudrais.

Bonjour, le trio Big Mac, s’il vous plaît.
Hello, the Big Mac combo, please.

It’s not a huge deal, but remember that stress goes to the final syllable in French: le trio Big Mac is pronounced le trio big MAC, not le trio BIG mac.

If you want to precede the name of what you want by introductory words, you can say je vais prendre.

Bonjour, je vais prendre le trio Big Mac, s’il vous plaît.
Hello, I’ll take the Big Mac combo, please.

You can also order food by number at McDo.

Bonjour, je vais prendre le numéro 5, s’il vous plaît.
Hello, I’ll take number 5, please.

Sometimes people say ça va être instead.

Bonjour, ça va être le trio Big Mac.
Hello, [it’s going to be] the Big Mac combo.

Do you remember in the last few entries how we’ve seen that capable can be pronounced colloquially as capab? The endings le and re have a tendency of dropping in colloquial speech. When ça va être is used at the cash, it will most likely be pronounced informally as ça va êt’ (the t is pronounced).

The same goes in fact for je vais prendre. The re ending is often dropped so that prendre sounds like prende.

At McDo, you’ll be asked:

C’est pour ici ou pour emporter?
It’s for here or to go?

You can answer (c’est) pour ici or (c’est) pour emporter.

There are other ways of ordering in French, but with just these few tips you should be able to avoid a few more language switches!

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