Archive for June, 2014

Yesterday morning was warm in Montréal, but it was only partly sunny because of the clouds. We can say that it was partiellement ensoleillé.

In the afternoon though, the sun disappeared entirely behind clouds. For the most part, it didn’t come back.

As I walked along the sidewalk, I heard a random bit of conversation.

A woman told a group of men (who I assume she knew through work) that it was a nice day. One of the men didn’t really agree with her…

Elle — Fait beau, hein?

Lui — Mais y’a pas d’soleil!

Elle — Ah! Le verre est à moitié vide!

They all began laughing because he realised that he was indeed being negative. Complain all winter, complain all summer!

un verre à moitié vide
a half-empty glass (negative outlook)

un verre à moitié plein
a half-full glass (positive outlook)

Le verre est à moitié plein / à moitié vide.
The glass is half full / half empty.

Pour toi, le verre est toujours à moitié vide.
For you, the glass is always half empty.

Faut voir le verre à moitié plein!
You gotta see the glass as half full!

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Below is a random sentence that came up in a Google search. The sentence was posted in an online car forum.

The guy who wrote this sentence was looking for someone who could do touch-ups (faire des retouches, faire des touch-up) to his car’s paint job:

J’veux un gars de confiance, pas un bullshitteux ou un gars qui va botcher mon auto.

I want a guy I can trust, not some “bullshitter” or some guy who’s gonna mess up my car.

It’s a short example, but there’s some interesting stuff to look at here.

Even though gars is spelled with an r and s, be sure not to pronounce those letters. Gars sounds like gâ.

You’ll hear the word gars all the time. For example, in the summer months, you’ll see les gars de la construction busy at work. They’re construction guys.

Un bullshitteux (pronounced boulechitteux) in this example is someone who doesn’t take his work seriously or doesn’t know what he’s doing — a wanker. The guy who wrote this doesn’t want some bullshitteux messing up his car.

Then there’s la bullshit (sounds like boulechite). If someone says something nonsensical or that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, ben… c’est de la bullshit.

C’est de la bullshit ce que tu racontes.
What you’re saying is bullshit.

When the guy talked about not wanting a bullshitteux to mess up his car, he used the verb botcher. It comes from the English verb “to botch.”

C’est un bullshitteux qui va botcher ton auto.
He’s a “bullshitter” who’s gonna mess up your car.
That guy’s gonna do a shit job and mess up your car.

Words used for “car” in Québec are une auto, un char, une voiture. The most informal of the three is un char.

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I’m always on the lookout for good sources of vocab and expressions for you to learn, and I’ve found a pretty good one for learning how people complain and insult others in French:

Comments that appear on paid ads in your Facebook feed.

The bigger the company, the more likely you are to find complaints and juicy insults, either directed at the company itself or other commenters. The comments are also very good for learning all kinds of useful French vocab and expressions in general.

For example, if you want to know how people complain in French about coffee that tastes like dirty dishwater, check out the comments on a Tim Hortons ad.

If you want to know how people accuse a restaurant of serving fake meat, then take a peek at the comments on an ad from McDonalds. You won’t be disappointed.

There’s an ad that’s been appearing in my Facebook feed for many weeks now. The company isn’t a big one — it’s from a butcher located south of Montréal — so a lot of the comments on it are a little more tame compared to the ones on, say, an ad from Tim Hortons.

The guy’s been advertising that he’s got a lot of steaks to get rid of because of an ordering error made by a client. To sell the steaks as fast as possible, he explains in his ad that he’s selling them with no mark-up in price just to break even.

The comments on his advert range from praise over the quality of the meat to accusations that he’s a scammer just looking to sell more steaks with a bogus story.

Many commenters wanted to know practical information, like what time he opens and if he delivers:

Faites-vous la livraison?
Do you deliver?

À quelle heure vous ouvrez?
What time do you open?

À quelle heure ouvrez-vous aujourd’hui?
What time do you open today?

One commenter said that when the ads first started appearing on Facebook, he was interested in buying some of the steaks. But now that the ad has been running for so long, he smells a scam:

Ça me tentait au début, mais ça commence à sentir le scam. Désolé, je passe.

I was interested at first, but this is starting to smell like a scam. Sorry, I’ll take a pass.

The standard word for scam in French is une arnaque. The commenter could have also written ça commence à sentir l’arnaque.

The person who does the scamming is called un arnaqueur. The next commenter used the word arnaqueur when he said that people were getting the impression the butcher was a scammer because of how long the ad and his sob story have been running:

Tu devrais arrêter cette annonce payée, elle te nuit. Regarde les commentaires des gens. Ils n’apprécient pas ton genre de pub sur Facebook. Tu passes pour un arnaqueur.

You should end this paid advertisement; it’s hurting you [i.e., your reputation]. Look at people’s comments. They don’t appreciate this kind of ad on Facebook. You come across as a scammer.

The word for advertisement in French is une publicité, but you’ll often come across the informally shortened form une pub. It’s similar to how “advertisement” in English shortens to “ad” and “advert” more informally.

The commenter also used the expression passer pour un arnaqueur. He said: tu passes pour un arnaqueur (you come across as a scammer). You can replace un arnaqueur with other nouns, for example: tu passes pour un con (you come across as a shithead).

And, in fact, our next commenter used the noun con when he came to the butcher’s defence by attacking other commenters:

Le monde est chiâleux, arrêtez de chiâler comme d’habitude. Bande de cons.

Everybody keeps complaining; stop complaining all the time. Bunch of shitheads.

Chiâler in Québec — we’ve seen it before, like here in entry #808 — means “to complain.” And someone who does the complaining can be described as chiâleux. Other ways to translate con in the sense used in the comment include: idiot, moron, ass, dickhead.

Those Facebook ads can be annoying, but if you change your perspective and see them as a language-learning opportunity, you might find you don’t mind them as much… or at least I don’t — they give me ideas for OffQc!

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Yesterday we looked at three uses of the French verb virer:

  • virer fou
  • virer au vert
  • virer à droite

Tu dois faire quelque chose, sinon tu vas virer folle.
You have to do something, otherwise you’ll go crazy.

Mon pied a viré au vert.
My foot turned green.

J’ai pogné un ticket parce que j’ai viré à droite sur une rouge.
I got stuck with a ticket because I turned right on a red.

But we’re not finished with virer yet because Benoît’s comment yesterday made me realise there are a few more good expressions using virer to learn.

Let’s add these expressions then to your knowledge of virer:

  • virer sur le côté
  • virer sur le top
  • virer une brosse

You see that truck in the image? It’s flipped over on the side. We can say:

Le camion a viré sur le côté.
The truck flipped over on the side.

Another expression that immediately comes to mind now is virer sur le top. If a car had completely flipped over and landed on its roof, we might say:

Le char était complètement viré sur le top.
The car was completely flipped over on the top.

Remember how sur le often sounds in colloquial language? Like sul. It’s an informally contracted form of sur le.

Le camion a viré sul côté.
Le char était viré sul top.

Hmm, wonder how that truck flipped over sur le côté? Let’s hope it had nothing to do with drinking and driving…

A few posts ago we saw that the expression être chaud is one way to describe the state of being drunk. But to get to that state in the first place, you have to virer une brosse:

virer une brosse
to get drunk
to get loaded
to get wasted

After you go and virer une brosse, you become chaud.

J’ai viré une brosse au bar pis j’étais trop chaud pour conduire.
I got drunk at the bar and I was too drunk to drive.

Si t’as assez d’argent pour aller virer une brosse, t’as assez d’argent pour un taxi.
If you’ve got enough money to go out and get drunk, you’ve got enough money for a taxi.

So here’s everything you now know about the verb virer:

virer fou
virer folle
to go crazy

virer au vert
virer au jaune
virer au noir
to turn green
to turn yellow
to turn black

virer à droite
virer à gauche
to turn right
to turn left

virer sur le côté
to flip over on the side

virer sur le top
to flip over on the top

virer une brosse
to get drunk

Hold on, not finished just yet.

The expression virer sur le top has a few more uses than just the one above.

Quand j’ai appris la nouvelle, j’ai complètement viré sur le top.
When I heard the news, I totally flipped out (in anger).

Je vire sur le top pour un sac de chips.
I always go crazy for a bag of chips (because I like chips so much).

Faut être viré sur le top pour faire ça.
Ya gotta be totally crazy to do that.

So virer sur le top means to flip upsidedown, both literally and as an emotion.

Oh, just one more thing…

Virer une brosse can also be said as prendre une brosse.

That’s it!

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Let’s look at these three usages of the verb virer:

  • virer fou
  • virer au vert
  • virer à droite

In entry #808, we saw the expression virer fou/virer folle, or “to go crazy.” Virer means “to become” or “to turn” here.

Je vais virer fou.
Je vais virer folle.
I’m going to go crazy.

Today, here’s another example taken from Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer (tome 1), this one also using the verb virer:

virer au vert
to turn green

One of the side effects of Maude’s cancer treatment is that her feet swelled up while travelling by plane, big like the green Hulk’s feet. She writes:

Mes pieds sont devenus gros comme ceux de Hulk. Ouan, vraiment très, TRÈS gros, là! (Mais au lieu de virer au vert, ils sont devenus complètement blancs, avec les orteils rouges.)

My feet became huge like the Hulk’s. Yep, really, REALLY big! (But instead of turning green, they went completely white, and the toes went red.)

[Maude Schiltz, Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer (tome 1), Éditions de Mortagne, Boucherville (Québec), 2013, p. 346.]

The verb virer can also be used in the sense of making a turn at an intersection:

virer à droite
to turn right

Il est interdit de virer à droite au feu rouge.
Turning right on a red light is not permitted.

(In Montréal, that’s the truth.)

If you can say virer à droite, then you can also say virer à gauche.

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This text message exchange comes from the Les Parent Facebook page.

Les Parent is a comedy from Québec. The name of the show really is Les Parent and not Les Parents, because Parent is a surname, and a common too — like the singer Kevin Parent. The name of the show means “The Parent Family” and not “The Parents.”

This exchange of textos takes place between Thomas and his mother. The green textos are from the mother, the grey ones from Thomas.

Bonne journée, mon Thomas.
Have a good day, [my] Thomas.

Bonne journée?
Have a good day?

C’est ça, réponds-moi pas.
That’s right, don’t answer me.

On sait ben. C’est juste ta mère qui te texte. Mais si c’est ta blonde ou tes amis, tu réponds dans la SECONDE.
We all know. It’s just your mother texting you. But if it’s your girlfriend or your friends, you answer within a SECOND.

Pas quand je conduis.
Not when I’m driving.

Tu conduis?
You’re driving?



_ _ _

Remember, in Québec the â in lâcher sounds like “aww.” Lawwwche ton cell!

A smartphone is called un téléphone intelligent. Un texto is a text message, and texter (quelqu’un) means “to text (someone).”

on sait ben = on sait bien
ta blonde, your girlfriend
dans la seconde, within a second
lâcher quelque chose, to put something down
un cell, cell phone, mobile phone

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A char de marde has nothing to do with Arctic char.

It’s the truth; a “char de marde” has nothing to do with Arctic char.

During your ventures into Québécois French, it’s only a matter time before you hear one francophone tell another to go eat un char de marde.

Now, if you had heard this when you were new to French and the way it’s spoken in Québec, perhaps you’d have thought that un char de marde was a strange way of pronouncing un char de mer and ended up thinking it was some sort of culinary delight, like Arctic char.

But I’ll bet you’re a little wiser now and realise that the char in question here tastes less like fish and a whole lot more like shit.

That’s because un char de marde is just that — a load of shit. And although it’s no culinary delight, this doesn’t stop the Québécois from encouraging one another to eat it.

Mange don un char de marde.
Eat a load of shit.

In other words, fuck off. 😀

You might even hear the expression used between friends, perhaps in a toned-down version. For example, if Friend A were teasing Friend B, Friend B could tell Friend A to take a hike by saying this in a playful tone:

Mange don un char!
Eat a load!

It’s understood that the load to be eaten is one of shit.

Of course, instead of mange don un char de marde, one could also simply say mange don d’la marde in a moment of anger, but it’s just not as fun, admit it.

The don in these examples should really be spelled donc, but I use don to remind you to not pronounce the c here.

You’ll also frequently hear this expression used with the verb aller:

Va don manger un char de marde.
Go eat a load of shit.

Je vous invite à aller manger un char de marde. Bon appétit.
I invite you to go eat a load of shit. Bon appétit.

Tu peux ben aller manger un char de marde.
You can just go eat a load of shit.

La prochaine fois qu’il t’appelle, dis-lui d’aller manger un char de marde.
The next time he calls you, tell him to go eat a load of shit.

Instead of just telling someone to go eat un char de marde, perhaps you’re feeling generous and would prefer to actually offer one to somebody? How sweet of you. The expression donner un char de marde à quelqu’un means exactly what it sounds like: to give someone shit (as in to yell at that person, to lecture them, to chew them out).

Le policier m’a donné un char de marde.
The policeman gave me shit.

Je vais l’appeler ce soir pour lui donner un char de marde.
I’m going to call him this evening to give him shit.

Mon ex vient de me donner un char de marde.
My ex just gave me shit.

Le garage était fermé, donc j’ai pas pu aller leur donner un char de marde.
The garage was closed, so I couldn’t go give them shit.

Je vais aller demain donner un char de marde au gérant.
I’m going to go tomorrow to give the manager shit.

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