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Archive for October, 2014

On Twitter, Guy A. Lepage commented on a case in which a mother was found guilty of offering her daughter to her spouse as a sex toy, un jouet sexuel.

Lepage called the woman a colice de conne on Twitter.

What does this mean?

Here’s what the tweet says:

Colice de conne ! Prison longtemps please Une mère offre sa fille comme jouet sexuel à son conjoint via

If you guessed that Guy A. Lepage is insulting the mother, you’d be right! Here’s how it might read if it had been written in English:

Fucking idiot! Long prison sentence, please. A mother offers her daughter as a sex toy to her spouse.

Calling a man un con or a woman une conne is an insult in French.

The masculine word con in French is vulgar. Its English equivalent is cunt. In fact, con (French), cunt (English) and coño (Spanish) are all etymologically related.

When con or conne is used to insult someone, it becomes an offensive way of calling someone an idiot.

Interestingly, we read this about the usage of con and conne in Québec on Wikipedia:

Con et conne existent aussi au Québec et sont fréquemment utilisés, mais n’ont été adoptés que dans la deuxième moitié du 20esiècle, sous l’influence des films français. Ce terme argotique nous était inconnu avant la deuxième guerre mondiale.

Con and conne also exist in Québec and are frequently used, but they weren’t adopted until the second half of the 20th century, influenced by French films. This slang term was not used in Québec before the Second World War.

On that Wikipedia page, con and conne were given as synonyms of épais and épaisse, which are frequently used in Québec in the sense of “idiot.”

What about colice?

We’ve seen this before on OffQc but more often spelled on the blog as câlice and câlisse. In colice de conne, the colice de part means “fucking.”

colice de conne, fucking idiot
colice de cave, fucking idiot
colice de marde, fucking shit
ma câlisse de job, my fucking job
une câlice de bonne idée, a fucking good idea
un câlisse de chien sale, a fucking dirty dog

Be sure to listen to Laurent Paquin’s Chant sacré, where you’ll hear all kinds of Québécois swear words in a very short song.

You can follow Guy A. Lepage on Twitter here.

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Yesterday in #864, we saw the expression c’est rendu que, which means “it’s to the point where” or “it’s got to the point where.” You can go back and read the examples there using c’est rendu que if you want to review.

Let’s continue with rendu here.

In the examples below (found through Google), the second sentence in French uses a more colloquial pronunciation.

You might hear rendu used in the sense of “become.” For example, you might hear it used to talk about new jobs where the person “becomes” something new, like a police officer, professor, etc.

Il est rendu policier.
Yé rendu policier.

He’s become a policeman.

J’ai un cousin qui a chauffé 10 ans pour Laidlaw mais il est rendu policier.
J’ai un cousin qui a chauffé 10 ans pour Laidlaw mais yé rendu policier.

I have a cousin who drove for Laidlaw for 10 years but he’s become a policeman.

Chauffer is used in Québec in the same sense as conduire, which is also used.

Le pire c’est qu’il est rendu professeur de français.
Le pire c’est qu’yé rendu professeur de français.
The worst part is that he’s become a French professor.

Other times, rendu feels more like “arrived.”

Il était à 3000 fans sur sa page Facebook, mais là il est rendu à 4000.
Y’était à 3000 fans sur sa page Facebook, mais là yé rendu à 4000.

He was at 3000 fans on his Facebook page, but now he’s at 4000.

Il y a trois ans, on a parti ça pour le fun et là, on est rendu à un millier de participants.
Y’a trois ans, on a parti ça pour le fun et là, on est rendu à un millier de participants.
Three years ago, we started this just for fun, and now we’re at a thousand participants.

We can look at more uses of rendu in upcoming posts if more usages come to my mind this weekend! 😉

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In #863, we found the adjective rendu in a text written by Kéven Breton about wheelchair accessibility. The wording was:

Ah ouais c’est accessible chenous monsieur! Vous avez juste à passer par l’arrière, dans la petite ruelle qui pue le cadavre. Y’a une petite porte en métal, à côté des vidanges. Cognez, on va aller vous ouvrir! Pis rendu là, y’a juste deux petites marches!

Yeah sure, we’re accessible here, sir! You just have to go around the back into the alley that smells like a dead body. There’s a small metal door beside the garbage. Knock, and we’ll let you in! Then after that (at that point), there are only two small steps!

[Kéven Breton, Vie nocturne : tous ces bars qui ne veulent pas de moi, Urbania, 7 octobre 2014.]

Maybe you’ve been hearing the adjective rendu a lot as you listen to francophones from Québec speak, which wouldn’t be surprising because it’s used frequently.

There’s an expression in particular using rendu that we can look at: c’est rendu que. In the examples below (all found online somewhere), we can say that c’est rendu que means “it’s to the point where.”

Mais là, c’est rendu qu’il fait 3-4 parfois 5 cacas par jour.
But now it’s to the point where he’s going poo 3-4 sometimes 5 times a day.

Là, c’est rendu que j’ose même plus regarder mon père dans les yeux.
Now it’s to the point where I don’t even dare look at my father in the eyes.

Là, c’est rendu que je me fais réveiller de deux à quatre fois par semaine par des gens qui font sauter des feux d’artifice.
Now it’s to the point where I’m woken up two to four times a week by people setting off firecrackers.

Interestingly, those three examples above began with là, which means “now.” This helps to insist on the change in the situation. Not all sentences using c’est rendu que begin with though. Here are a few last examples:

C’est rendu que je me mets toujours à douter de moi.
It’s to the point where I always start doubting myself.

C’est rendu que je n’aime plus sortir avec mon chum.
It’s to the point where I don’t like going out with my boyfriend anymore.

C’est comme une drogue les Olympiques. C’est rendu que je regarde les reprises des reprises!
The Olympics are like a drug, to the point where I watch reruns of reruns!

As you listen to French, see if you can catch examples of  used in the same way as in the examples above. is very frequently used in the sense of “now.”

Là, c’est rendu que…
Pis là, c’est rendu que…
Mais là, c’est rendu que…

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On Urbania, Kéven Breton writes about the challenge of getting into different bars in Montréal on his wheelchair, in Vie nocturne à roulettes : tous ces bars qui ne veulent pas de moi.

He says some bars pass the test, and others don’t.

And then there are the bars in between… a sort of fake kind of accessible, as in:

Ah ouais c’est accessible chenous monsieur! Vous avez juste à passer par l’arrière, dans la petite ruelle qui pue le cadavre. Y’a une petite porte en métal, à côté des vidanges. Cognez, on va aller vous ouvrir! Pis rendu là, y’a juste deux petites marches!

Yeah sure, we’re accessible here, sir! You just have to go around the back into the alley that smells like a dead body. There’s a small metal door beside the garbage. Knock and we’ll let you in! Then after that, there are only two small steps!

We first looked at Kéven’s use of chenous (chez nous) in #861. Maybe you’ll remember that chez nous can mean “at my place” in Québec, just like chez moi. For example, a person who lives alone might say chez nous to talk about his place, instead of chez moi. And even if you live alone, he might say chez vous to talk about your place, instead of chez toi.

In the example above, we really can understand chez nous to refer to more than one person though. Chez nous here (or chenous) refers to the bar and its employees.

Kéven also used vidanges in his text: à côté des vidanges, or “next to the garbage.” Elsewhere on OffQc, we’ve see the term un sac à vidanges, which is a garbage bag.

Learn the verb cogner! Every learner of French learns to say frapper à la porte for “knock on the door,” but have you learned cogner à la porte too? You need to!

You’ll hear the Québécois use the adjective rendu a lot too. We won’t look at all the uses of rendu here, just the one in the example above. Broadly speaking, rendu means “arrived” or “become.” Using “arrived,” we can say that rendu là means “arrived there” — or in more natural-sounding English: “at that point.”

Finally, the word cadavre… This word can be added to the list of 50 words pronounced with the â sound in Québec but not spelled with the accented â. That’s because cadavre is pronounced cadâvre. Only the second a is pronounced â, not the first one. You can hear it pronounced on this Wiki page, near the bottom.

Kéven also wrote y’a a couple times instead of il y a. If you listen to a lot of spoken French, you know that the most normal way of pronouncing il y a during regular conversations is certainly y’a. The negative form is y’a pas.

You can continue reading Kéven’s text on your own, discover more vocabulary and understand how Kéven feels about accessibility in Montréal bars. (You’ll also find an example of pogner in there, when Kéven says pogner le métro, or grab the métro.)

Summary

chez nous can mean chez moi
chez vous can mean chez toi
à côté des vidanges, beside the garbage
un sac à vidanges, a garbage bag
cognez!, knock!
cogner à la porte, to knock at the door
pis rendu là, then at that point, then after that
cadavre is pronounced cadâvre
y’a is an informal pronunciation of il y a
pogner le métro,
to grab the métro

P.S. Pogner and cogner rhyme. Be sure not to pronounce the g in these words. They sound like ponnyé and connyé.

_ _ _

Quote by Kéven Breton in Vie nocturne : tous ces bars qui ne veulent pas de moi, on Urbania, 7 October 2014.

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Test your knowledge of Québécois French!

Pick the correct French translation in each question. There’s only one correct answer for each question: the other two are nonsense or mistranslations, so beware…

The answers come after the image.
Share your score in the comments!

(If you like this quiz, there’s another one here.)

1. I’m terrified.
a. J’ai le chien.
b. J’ai la chienne.
c. Je suis une chienne.

2. I’m fed up.
a. J’ai mon voyage.
b. J’ai mon full.
c. J’ai mon marre.

3. I forgot to lock the door.
a. J’ai oublié de pogner la porte.
b. J’ai oublié de barrer la porte.
c. J’ai oublié de mettre la barre.

4. Did you take out the garbage?
a. As-tu vidangé les ordures?
b. As-tu sorti les vidangeurs?
c. As-tu sorti les vidanges?

5. He throws money out the window.
a. Il garroche l’argent par les fenêtres.
b. Il échappe les sous par les fenêtres.
c. Il niaise l’argent dans les fenêtres.

6. I bought a scratch-and-win lottery ticket.
a. J’ai acheté une gratteuse.
b. J’ai acheté un gratte-loto.
c. J’ai acheté un gratteux.

7. He messed up his back pretty good.
a. Il s’est pas mal magané le dos.
b. Il s’est pas magané le dos pas mal.
c. Il s’est pas pantoute magané le dos.

8. I don’t stand a chance anymore!*
a. Mon chien est pas chanceux!
b. Mon chien est mort!
c. J’ai la chienne!

(*Example context: I’ve wanted to go out with her for ages, but I just found out she’s going out with the hottest guy at school now. I don’t stand a chance anymore!)

9. I’m not one to beat around the bush!
a. J’ai pas l’habitude de pogner avec la puck!
b. J’ai pas l’habitude de niaiser avec la puck!
c. J’ai pas l’habitude de capoter avec la puck!

10. The crossing guard let the pupils cross.
a. L’officier scolaire a fait traverser des écoliers.
b. Le protège-écolier a fait traverser des écoliers.
c. Le brigadier scolaire a fait traverser des écoliers.

Answers

1b, 2a, 3b, 4c, 5a,
6c, 7a, 8b, 9b, 10c

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Kéven Breton writes about how autumn is the perfect season to be boring and stay home in La saison parfaite pour être plate (The perfect season to be boring), which appeared on Urbania.

Kéven admits to liking when someone cancels plans at the last minute because then, as he says, je peux rester chenous. I can stay home.

Chenous? It’s an informal way of saying chez nous and, in this example, it’s synonymous with chez moi.

But why didn’t Kéven say chez moi if he was only talking about himself?

The plural forms are often used like this — chez nous, chez vous, chez eux instead of chez moichez toi, chez lui/elle.

If you hear someone say chez nous, or like Kéven said, chenous, it doesn’t necessarily mean that person lives with someone…

je veux rester chenous
I want to stay home, chez moi

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A park for dogs to run around in (and their owners to cruise each other) in Montréal

A park for dogs to run around in (and their owners to cruise each other) in Montréal

We’ve seen the expression avoir la chienne before, but let’s review it. I was reminded of this expression while reading a text written by Véronique Grenier on Urbania called “Rides de char.”

J’ai la chienne!

Chienne is the feminine form of chien. When you’ve got the chienne, you’re terrified or frightened.

J’ai la chienne.
I’m terrified.

J’ai la chienne de faire ça.
I’m terrified of doing that.

J’avais la chienne.
I was terrified.

J’ai eu la chienne de ma vie!
I got the fright of my life!

While on the topic of having the chienne, now’s a good time to look at the difference between j’avais peur and j’ai eu peur.

J’ai eu peur is used to describe getting scared at a specific moment. J’avais peur is used to describe being scared over time.

J’avais peur.
I was scared.
(all morning, this afternoon, while watching a movie…)

J’ai eu peur.
I got scared.
(when I saw him, when that happened…)

The same distinction exists for avoir faim.

J’avais faim.
I was hungry.
(this morning, all night, during class…)

J’ai eu faim.
I got hungry.
(when I saw the cake, when I smelled the pizza…)

Going back to the original expression in this post, j’avais la chienne is used to talk about being terrified over time. In the example j’ai eu la chienne de ma vie, the speaker got the fright of his or her life at a specific moment when something happened.

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