Archive for March, 2015

Here’s more stuff from the radio. The radio’s good because you can leave it on in the background, if it’s not too distracting for you.

For suggestions of stations, check Brad’s links page on his excellent Québec Culture Blog.

Here are three things overheard in a radio conversation about clothes. Each one contains a Québécois usage.

1. La sécheuse, ça magane les vêtements.
The dryer wrecks your clothes.

2. Si on achète une robe qui est dispendieuse…
If you buy a dress that’s expensive…

3. On magasine en ligne de la même manière qu’on magasine en magasin.
People shop online the same way they shop in the store.

In number 1, there’s the verb maganer again. It’s used here in the sense of to wreck, ruin.

In number 2, we’ve got the adjective dispendieux. It means expensive here.

In number 3, the verb magasiner means to shop. Magasiner en ligne means to shop online.

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On the radio, I heard an ad from Midas, who do car repairs. They used a slogan:

On fait tout
We do it all

Except the speaker didn’t pronounce tout as tou. He pronounced it informally as toute. This isn’t a feminine form; it’s just the final t of tout being pronounced, which can occur at the informal level of spoken language.

On fait toute — toute, toute, toute!

What about the vowel sound in toute? Have you heard the way it sounds as you listen to spoken French from Québec? You can hear tout pronounced as toute on this page. Click on the red son button beside the word tout.

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Two years ago, we saw this ad from a health campaign aimed at preventing young people from smoking:

Magane pas tes organes

Magane pas tes organes
Don’t wreck your organs

The verb maganer is used in Québécois French in the sense of to wreck.

The campaign is still going, but the wording has changed. It now reads:

Magane pas tes organes avec la boucane

Magane pas tes organes avec la boucane
Don’t wreck your organs with smoke

We’ve got another Québécois usage in there now — la boucane. This word means smoke.

Magane, organes and boucane all rhyme.

maganer, to wreck, to ruin
magané, wrecked, ruined
la boucane, smoke
boucaner, to smoke, to give off smoke

Source: Y a rien de plus dégueu
(Gouvernement du Québec)

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I came across this sign in a Montréal métro station:

Les petites bibittes ne mangent pas les grosses!

The sign is from Montréal’s Insectarium, which is an insect museum.

Une bibitte — maybe you’ll remember — is an informal word used in Québécois French meaning bug.

So what does the wording on the sign mean?

It means little bugs don’t eat big bugs. In other words, you don’t need to be afraid of bugs because you’re a big bibitte. 🙂

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Here’s a translation exercise you can do, similar to the ones in Say it in French: Translate 125 sentences to conversational Québécois French.

See if you can say the sentences below in French (the Québécois variety, of course!), without looking at the answers. If you need help, check the clues.

When you’re done, check the possible answers (they come after the image) and read the notes. You can try the exercise again after that to test yourself.

Say in French:

  1. No, thanks, I’m just looking.
    (what customers say to shop assistants when they don’t want help)
  2. I do my food shopping with reusable bags.
  3. Hahaha, what a hilarious video!
  4. I hate mosquitos.
  5. It’s too bad (it stinks, it sucks), but that’s how it is.


  • regarder
  • maringouin
  • juste
  • plate
  • crampant
  • épicerie
  • haïr

Possible answers:

  1. Non, merci, je fais juste regarder.
  2. Je fais mon épicerie avec des sacs réutilisables.
  3. Hahaha, c’est crampant comme vidéo!
  4. J’haïs ça, les maringouins.
  5. C’est plate, mais c’est comme ça.


  1. Je fais juste can be followed by a verb in the infinitive depending on what you want to say. Je fais juste te rappeler que… I’m just reminding you that… Informally, je fais can contract to j’fais, which sounds like ch’fais. Juste can sound informally like jusse.
  2. The expression faire l’épicerie means to do the grocery shopping.
  3. Something crampant is hilarious.
  4. Un maringouin is a mosquito. J’haïs is pronounced ja-i.
  5. Plate means too bad here (in the sense of unfortunate), but it can also mean boring. T’es plate! You’re boring! You’re no fun!

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