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Archive for April, 2015

The verb partir is sometimes used in the sense of to start (something) in the French of Québec.

The Usito dictionary gives these examples:

partir une mode
partir une tendance
partir une discussion
partir un débat

In all of these, partir means to start.

to start a fashion
to start a trend
to start a discussion
to start a debate

Another expression you might hear is partir le char, to start the car.

Partir in this sense is conjugated with the verb avoir in the past tense. J’ai parti une mode.

(The Usito dictionary claims that using partir like this comes from the English to start a fashion, a trend, etc., and that it’s a non-standard equivalent of lancer [lancer une mode, une tendance, etc.]. I’m still trying to figure out how partir is an anglicism deriving from to start…)

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In his article on Urbania entitled Le Canadien, la société pis moi, Kéven Breton writes:

Parce que quand le Canadien gagne, je me réjouis, je high-five à qui mieux mieux. Je saute, je suis bien. Je flotte.

We’ve seen before how the Montréal Canadiens are very often referred to in the singular in French: le Canadien. So when Kéven says quand le Canadien gagne, it means when the Canadiens win.

What I really wanted to draw your attention to though was the verb gagner. You’ll hear the infinitive form gagner pronounced with the â sound, as if it were written gâgner. As an approximation, it sounds like “gone yay.” This is also how the past participle gagné is pronounced.

But what about the conjugated form gagne in Kéven’s quote quand le Canadien gagne?

In gagne, there are two things to point out. The first is that it doesn’t use the â sound like gagner does. It’s pronounced with an a, as written. The second thing to note is how the gne ending sounds. You’ll often hear this ending pronounced spontaneously like an ng sound. This means you’ll hear the conjugated form gagne sound like the English word gang.

On this page from Université Laval, you’ll hear examples of words with the gne ending pronounced like this. You can listen to a recording of the words vigne, cygne and ligne, which sound like ving, sing and ling.

Quote by
Kéven Breton in “Le Canadien, la société pis moi,” Urbania, 21 April 2015

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We’ve seen that je suis can contract in informal language to what sounds like chu or chui. But where does that ch sound come from in chu and chui, considering there isn’t any ch sound in je suis to begin with?

To get the pronunciation chui, je suis contracts to j’suis. Je loses its vowel sound, and the resulting j’s makes the French ch sound. The same thing happens with chu, which is je suis contracted to j’su’s.

So the ch sound comes from j’s.

This is why je sais contracted informally to j’sais sounds like ché. It’s also why je sois contracted to j’sois sounds like choi. Je savais contracted to j’savais sounds like chavais. Anywhere you have the informally contracted j’s, you have the ch sound.

Cynthia Dulude uses the pronunciations j’su’s (chu) and j’sois (choi) in one of her videos in the Listen section.

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In #922, the expression prendre une marche came up, which is a calque of the English expression to take a walk.

A reader asked what expressions could be used in place of prendre une marche. It’s good to know other ways of saying it because in some circumstances, like in a composition in your French course, it might be best to use a different wording.

(This doesn’t mean I consider prendre une marche to be incorrect, of course — but some people do, and it’s good to be aware of that so you can choose when and if you’ll use the expression.)

I consulted the Usito dictionary, and here are other possibilities they suggest:

aller marcher
faire une marche
faire une promenade
faire un tour
se promener

The Banque de dépannage linguistique also suggests other ways here, including:

faire une promenade
faire une marche
faire un tour
faire un tour à pied
se promener
marcher
aller marcher

I take issue with the way they label the examples using prendre une marche as exemples fautifs (and then also put them in red!), but you might still find the page useful for different examples of usage.

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A reader asks how rendu is used. There are different ways, but let’s just look here at what it means in the question y’est rendu où?

Rendu is the past participle of the verb rendre. Here, we can understand rendu to mean gone to, ended up.

In an article on Urbania called Kicker Bruce Lee dans les chnolles (“Kick Bruce Lee in the nuts” — chnolles is your bonus word today), Jonathan Roberge writes:

« Y’est rendu où le gars positif que j’étais!? Est-ce que c’est ça vieillir ? Genre, je deviens un vieux grincheux jamais content? Oh, non! Je suis devenu un adulte, c’est ça!! »

“What ever happened to the positive guy I used to be!? Is that what getting old is about? Like, I become an old grump who’s never happy? Oh, no — I’ve become an adult, that’s what it is!!”

Y’est rendu où is used in his text in the sense of what ever happened to him, where did he go, where did he end up. Y’est is a contraction of il est, and it sounds like yé. Gars rhymes with pas (rs not pronounced).

y’est rendu où?
where did it/he go?
what ever happened to it/him?

genre
like, as in

un vieux grincheux
an old grump
a grumpy old man

kicker
to kick

les chnolles
balls, nuts

Quote by Jonathan Roberge, “Kicker Bruce Lee dans les chnolles,” Urbania, 19 December 2014.

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Yesterday we looked at how je suis can contract when the next word begins with a vowel. For example, je suis en maudit can contract to j’t’en maudit, where j’t’en sounds like ch’t’en.

Let’s look at another informal contraction containing je now.

Je me suis can contract to j’me su’s (sounds like jme su).

J’me su’s posé une question.
I asked myself a question.

C’est bon, que j’me su’s dit.
It’s good, I said to myself.

J’me su’s payé la traite.
I treated myself.

J’me su’s couché tard.
I went to bed late.

Review. Say what all of the following are informal contractions of:

  • j’t’en (sounds like ch’t’en)
  • j’t’à (sounds like ch’t’à)
  • j’t’un (sounds like ch’t’un)
  • j’t’allé (sounds like ch’t’allé)
  • j’pas (sounds like ch’pas)
  • j’me su’ (sounds like jme su)

Answers

  • je suis en
  • je suis à
  • je suis un
  • je suis allé
  • je (ne) suis pas
  • je me suis

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1. In the last entry, we saw how je suis en can contract to j’t’en, where j’ makes a ch sound (ch’t’en).

We’ve seen je suis reduced to just a ch sound before in Lisa LeBlanc’s song J’pas un cowboy (official video on YouTube here). J’pas is a contraction of je (ne) suis pas, and it sounds like ch’pas.

2. In a radio ad, I heard a woman say prendre une marche avec mon chum, to take a walk with my boyfriend.

The expression prendre une marche is a calque of the English expression to take a walk (and felt to be incorrect by certain people for that reason).

3. Parle-moi can be negated informally as parle-moi pas. Parle-moi pas comme ça. Don’t talk to me like that.

The same goes for dis-moi ça (dis-moi pas ça), demande-moi (demande-moi pas), dérange-moi (dérange-moi pas), etc.

4. Learn the phrase on peut-tu…? It means can we…?, is it possible to…? The tu here signals that this is a yes-no question. On peut-tu aller le voir? Can we go see him, it? On peut-tu arrêter de chiâler? Can we stop complaining?

5. OK, not Québécois French, but still of interest — Montréal’s got a street name change in the city centre, boulevard Robert-Bourassa.

If you’re new to OffQc, check out C’est what? 75 mini lessons in conversational Québécois French for an overview of important features of spoken language. (You can buy and download it here immediately.)

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