Archive for October, 2015

During a conversation, someone said:

[bla bla bla bla bla]… et là, mon téléphone sonne.

You’ll find it really useful to learn how to use like this. It means then here. (This is not the same that you read about recently in #1029.)

When you’re recounting past events in a conversation, you can use the expressions et là or, more informally, pis là the way English says and then. In the example above, the verb is in the present tense, but it’s understood that the events occurred in the past.

[bla bla bla bla bla]… et là, mon téléphone sonne.
[blah blah blah blah blah]… and then, my phone rang.

Et là and pis là both mean the same thing. Pis là sounds as if it were written pi là. Pis is a spoken contraction of puis.

You can also say on its own without et or pis before it.

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There’s an ad running on Radio-Canada where the speaker says:

Y’a ben trop d’stock.

Maybe you’re getting used to seeing these informal contractions and recognise this as meaning:

Il y a bien trop de stock.

What you might be less sure of though is the word stock.

Although stock can mean stock (as in merchandise), it was used here instead in the general sense of stuff. This is an informal, conversational usage.

Y’a ben trop d’stock.
There’s way too much stuff.

Y’a ben trop d’stock dans ta valise.
There’s way too much stuff in your suitcase.

To pronounce trop d’stock, first say trop. Now put a d sound on the end of trop (like tro’d’). Now add the word stock. Trop d’stock has two syllables.

Remember, ben sounds like the French word bain.

In fact, we’ve seen this use of stock before. In an earlier post, Louis (from Les Parent) is helping his teenaged son with his homework, but his son is having trouble doing it.

Louis doesn’t see why his son shouldn’t understand his homework because it’s below his grade level. He gets frustrated with his son and tells him that what they’re working on is du stock de troisième année, grade three stuff.

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On TV, a speaker said:

en plus de ça

I don’t remember the whole of what he said, but we can imagine an example like this:

J’ai voyagé partout et, en plus de ça, j’ai été payé pour me déplacer.
I travelled everywhere and, what’s more, I was paid to travel.

When the speaker said en plus de ça, he used an informal pronunciation. What he said in fact sounded like this:

en plus de t’ça

If you want to try to pronounce it yourself to hear how it sounds, here’s how to do it:

First, say de aloud. Now say de with a t sound on the end of it. Now add ça after that. That gets you de t’ça.

Now you can say en plus de t’ça, where plus sounds like plu.

This informal pronunciation of de ça as de t’ça isn’t uncommon at all. You’ll hear it frequently in informal conversations. It can occur whenever de ça is used, and not just in the expression en plus de ça.

That said, you don’t need to adopt de t’ça yourself (de ça is always acceptable, even in informal conversations), but do learn to recognise it.

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Here’s more French as spoken by Ricardo.

As he was preparing a dish before his televised audience, he said to go easy on the salt when adding it to his preparation. His exact words were:

Mollo sur le sel.
Easy on the salt.

Use normal French stress when pronouncing mollo (i.e., on final syllable). Mollo means gently, with moderation.

At the same time that he said mollo sur le sel, he also said:

On se garde une p’tite gêne.
We’ll hold off, we’ll hold back, let’s show some restraint, etc.

This was Ricardo’s way of insisting further on not using too much salt.

You’ve seen the expression se garder une petite gêne before when a TELUS advertising campaign linked it to pulling out one’s penis at inopportune moments.

Ricardo also uses this expression a lot:

Grosso modo.
More or less.

Use normal French stress when pronouncing grosso modo (i.e., on final syllables). Grosso modo means more or less, approximately.

Ricardo uses this expression when the amount of an ingredient to be added doesn’t need to be exact, just approximate. For example: une cuillère à soupe, grosso modo, a tablespoon, more or less.

The expression grosso modo can be used in any kind of conversation where you want to say more or less, not just when talking about cooking.

Whenever Ricardo wants to stress that preparing something in a certain way is very important, he often says:

C’est ben important.
It’s really important.

Ben is an informal, spoken contraction of bien; it sounds like the French word bain. Ben important sounds like bain n’important.

1. Mollo sur le sel.
2. On se garde une p’tite gêne.
3. Grosso modo.
4. C’est ben important.

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On television, a speaker used a French version of the expression “no double dipping!”

This expression is sometimes used half in jest at parties amongst invitees to remind themselves not to dip their chip twice into a shared bowl of sauce.

Here’s what she said:

  • Pas de double trempette!
    No double dipping!

Then, in a televised ad, a second speaker told listeners to take advantage of incredible bargains at a certain store.

He said:

  • Profitez d’incroyables aubaines!
    Take advantage of incredible bargains!

Aubaine is a feminine noun meaning bargain.

Finally, a third speaker used an informal pronunciation when he said in an interview:

  • Dans le cas de c’te travail-là
    In the case of this job
    As far as this job goes

What’s c’te?

Informally, both ce and cette might be pronounced c’te. It sounds like te with an s on the front of it (s’te).

The informally pronounced c’te travail-là, then, means ce travail-là.

1. Pas de double trempette!
2. Profitez d’incroyables aubaines!
3. Dans le cas de c’te travail-là

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Check out this movie title:

Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre

The expression used here is s’en aller en guerre, to go to war. Il s’en va means he goes, he’s going.

Why is there a t in there between va and en? How come it’s not Guibord s’en va en guerre instead here?

That t in the title is called un t euphonique; it’s there to provide a buffer between the vowel sound of va and that of en. In fact, you’re already familiar with this concept: it occurs in a-t-il…?, pense-t-elle, etc. Instead of a il…?, which is hard to say, a t gets inserted, for example: a-t-il vraiment dit ça?, and not a il vraiment dit ça?

A while ago, you saw how t’es un (you’re a) might get pronounced as t’es-t-un. That’s the t euphonique again. T’es-t-un chien. You’re a dog.

The funny thing about the t euphonique, though, is that sometimes it’s considered entirely correct and required (like in a-t-il…?), but other times it’s not, like in t’es-t-un. In t’es-t-un, the t euphonique is informal, but some people might consider it outright incorrect.

The movie title Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre is inspired by a song called Marlbrough s’en va-t-en guerre, which also uses the t euphonique.

You’ve seen before how the expression va-t’en! means go away! Don’t confuse the t in va-t’en! for the t in Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre. This t isn’t performing the same role each time.

s’en aller
il s’en va
Guibord s’en va en guerre
Guibord s’en va-t-en guerre
The underlined t here is the t euphonique, acting as a buffer between vowels.

s’en aller
tu t’en vas
The underlined t’ here comes from the reflexive verb s’en aller in its second-person singular imperative form. This explains why we write va-t’en!, and not va-t-en!

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On his TV show, Ricardo said this about something he had just cooked in front of his TV audience:

Ça, pour moi, là, c’est vraiment super.

What’s the doing in there?

This doesn’t mean there. We might be able to translate it instead as well in this example.

Ça, pour moi, là, c’est vraiment super.
This [what I made], to me, well, it’s really great.

As you listen to French, you’ll be hearing used very frequently like this. It often comes at the end of statements, but not always — in the example above, it’s in the middle.

Ben, je sais pas, là.
Well, I dunno.

Faque qu’est-ce qu’on fait, là?
So what’re we gonna do then?

Moi là, j’aime pas ça.
Yeah well, me, I don’t like that.

Ben, c’est comme tu veux, là.
Well, whatever you want.

You’ll probably want to resist the urge to find a direct equivalent into English. The more you listen to spoken French, the less mysterious this use of  will seem to you — and you’ll probably want to start using it yourself!

This  is a very characteristic feature of the French spoken in Québec, so don’t be afraid to try popping it in every once in a while into your own French. Your Québécois listeners will love it. 😀

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