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Archive for May, 2015

Informally, il est sounds like yé. So il est jeune will sound like yé jeune when said spontaneously in a conversation.

But what about when the next word after est begins with a vowel, like in il est en train de…? In this case, you’ll hear a t sound, which comes from the final t of est.

Il est en train de will sound like yé t’en train de.

Remember, the liaison changes the pronunciation of the following word, not the word in which the normally silent letter appears.

So don’t say yét / en / train / de.
Say / t’en / train / de.

If you pause where you see “/”, you’ll hear the difference.

The same goes for vous avez, for example.

Don’t say vouz / avez.
Say vou / z’avez.

For les autos, don’t say léz / auto.
Say / z’auto.

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Here’s an example of informal language that came up in a conversation:

Ôte-toi de d’là.
Get out of the way.

Ôte-toi de d’là is an informal pronunciation of ôte-toi de là. Before we look at what’s going on with the de d’là part, let’s look first at the verb.

The ô in the verb ôter is pronounced exactly as written, like ô. It sounds the vowel sound in beau or faux. So ôter sounds like ôté.

ôter quelque chose
to remove something

s’ôter
to remove oneself
to move (oneself) off, away, etc.

ôte-toi
remove yourself
move off
shove off, etc.

de là
from there

ôte-toi de là
get out of the way

We’ve seen before that de ça can be pronounced informally as de t’ça. It sounds like de with a t sound on the end, followed by ça.

parle pas de t’ça
don’t talk about that

Parle pas de t’ça is an informal, spoken equivalent of ne parle pas de ça.

Something similar can happen with de là, but instead of a t sound coming in between the two words like in de t’ça, it’s a d sound: de d’là. It sounds like de with a d sound on the end, followed by là.

ôte-toi de d’là
get out of the way

tasse-toi de d’là
get out of the way

Se tasser (pronounced se tâsser) also means to shove over, move off, etc. If you listen to Québécois music, maybe that last example will remind you of the song Tassez-vous de d’là by Les Colocs, which you can find on YouTube.

Of course, you may hear ôte-toi de d’là and tasse-toi de d’là pronounced as ôte-toé de d’là and tasse-toé de d’là, where toé is an informal equivalent of toi.

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In the new downloadable OffQc book with 1000 examples of use, there are two example sentences that look alike but mean two very different things:

  • En veux-tu?
  • M’en veux-tu?

En veux-tu? means
Do you want some (of it, them)?
Do you want any (of it, them)?

M’en veux-tu? means
Are you upset with me?
Are you mad at me?

In en veux-tu?, the en means some (of it, them), any (of it, them).

En / veux-tu?
Some (of it, them) / want-you?
Any (of it, them) / want-you?

In m’en veux-tu?, though, we’ve got an expression: en vouloir à quelqu’un. When you “en veux at somebody,” you’re mad at or upset with that person.

Tu m’en veux.
You’re upset with me.

M’en veux-tu?
Are you upset with me?

Note that m’en veux-tu? doesn’t mean do you want some of me!

Maybe you’ll notice that the questions en veux-tu? and m’en veux-tu? both use the inversion.

We’ve seen before how using the inversion after question words like comment, pourquoi, quand, etc., sounds more formal. For example, the question why did you say that? is likely to be said spontaneously as pourquoi t’as dit ça?, with no inversion (i.e., t’as rather than as-tu).

But in yes-no questions using the second-person singular tu, the inversion is in fact heard conversationally in Québécois usage.

Dors-tu? Comprends-tu? En veux-tu? M’en veux-tu?

You can read a full description of the new OffQc guide here, or you can buy and download it immediately here.

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On Urbania, Lysandre Nadeau writes about the approach of moving season — moving into a new apartment with a new coloc, that is. She writes:

Le soleil est enfin arrivé au Québec. Pis quand il se pointe, pas ben ben longtemps après, les gens déménagent. Eh oui, dans quelques semaines, le monde vont commencer à faire leurs boîtes.

pis quand il se pointe, and when it shows up
pas ben ben longtemps après, not too long afterwards
le monde vont commencer à, people are going to start to
faire leurs boîtes, to pack their boxes

Ben is an informal contraction of bien meaning really here. It sounds like bain. The author has doubled it for effect: pas ben ben longtemps après, literally not really really a long time afterwards.

Why has she used the plural vont with the singular noun le monde? Le monde vont commencer à faire leurs boîtes. It’s a feature of informal language where le monde, meaning people, is analysed as a plural noun like les gens.

Pis means and here. It’s pronounced pi and comes from puis. It’s similar to the way and in English can contract to an’ or ‘n’.

She continues:

Il va y avoir des gros camions partout dans les rues pis plein de vieux divans à motifs laittes sur les trottoirs.

plein de, lots of
vieux divans, old sofas
à motifs laittes, with ugly designs

Laitte is an informal pronunciation of laid that you’ll hear used spontaneously in conversations.

The author uses a few more words from conversational language:

Un nouvel appartement signifie aussi peut-être : un nouveau coloc. J’en ai eu en masse dans ma vie, des l’funs pis des pas l’funs.

un nouveau coloc, a new roommate, flatmate
en masse, lots, heaps
j’en ai eu en masse, I’ve had lots of them
des l’funs pis des pas l’funs, fun/great ones and not-so-fun/great ones

Coloc is a short form of colocataire. Locataire is a renter, so a colocataire is a “co-renter,” someone you share your apartment with. Coloc is used informally.

What does the first en mean in j’en ai eu en masse? It means of them here. In English, you can say I had many, but you can’t in French. In French, you have to say I had many of them, where the of them is said as en. J’en ai eu en masse, of them have had heaps.

Fun is a bit funny in that it uses the article le in front of it, even when used adjectively. Des gars le fun, fun guys. Unlike the author, I’m not sure I’d have put an s on fun in des l’fun pis des pas l’fun.

Source: All quotes written by Lysandre Nadeau in “Le guide de la pire personne en colocation,” Urbania, 22 May 2015.

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In the Montréal edition of the 24 heures newspaper, an offensive word related to homosexuality came up in article where different public figures from Québec spoke out about homophobia.

Sylvain Gaudreault, député péquiste et ex-ministre des transports, was asked by 24 heures:

Avez-vous déjà été victime d’homophobie?

Have you ever been a victim of homophobia?

Gaudreault answered:

En 2007, lors de ma première élection, un animateur de radio du Saguenay avait déclaré sur les ondes que «les travailleurs d’usine ne voteraient jamais pour une tapette.» […]

In 2007, when I was first elected, a Saguenay radio host declared on air that “factory workers would never vote for a fag.”

Source: Sylvain Gaudreault in “12 personnalités publiques gaies dénoncent l’homophobie,” by Yannick Donahue and Guillaume Picard, 24 heures (Montréal edition), 15-18 May 2015, page 8.

24 heures also spoke with Manon Massé, députée de Québec solidaire. One of the questions she was asked was:

Avez-vous été témoin d’actes homophobes?

Have you ever witnessed acts of homophobia?

Massé replied:

Trop de fois dans ma vie j’ai assisté à la banalisation de propos homophobes: «Je vais vous conter une joke de tapettes, c’est juste une joke», «moi, j’ai rien contre ça, mais…» […]

Too many times in my life I’ve witnessed the trivialisation of homophobic comments: “I’m going to tell you a queer joke, it’s just a joke,” “I’ve got nothing against [gays], but…”

Source: Manon Massé in “12 personnalités publiques gaies dénoncent l’homophobie,” by Yannick Donahue and Guillaume Picard, 24 heures (Montréal edition), 15-18 May 2015, page 9.

The word related to homosexuality that came up in both of their responses is tapette, a feminine noun. Tapette is equivalent to fag, queer, fairy, etc., and is an offensive usage.

In Massé’s response, we’ve also got the feminine noun joke, used in une joke de tapettes. The authors of the article put this informal and English-derived word in italics.

I read this article in 24 heures, but it’s also online here in the Journal de Montréal. In this longer online version, Émile Gaudreault (cinéaste, réalisateur de Mambo Italiano et De père en flic) says:

Enfant, j’ai été traité de «tapette» deux fois […].

When I was a child, I got called “fag” twice.

Source: Émile Gaudreault in “12 personnalités se confient au sujet de l’homophobie,” by Yannick Donahue and Guillaume Picard, Journal de Montréal, 15 May 2015.

The expression traiter quelqu’un de means to call somebody [a name].

Vocab from the quotes:

déclarer sur les ondes, to declare on air
voter pour une tapette, to vote for a “fag” (offensive)
conter une joke, to tell a joke
une joke de tapettes, a joke about “fags” (offensive)
j’ai rien contre ça, I’ve got nothing against it
traiter quelqu’un de, to call somebody [a name]

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