Here are 10 of the most googled French usages that led readers to OffQc this year. Do you know them all?
When feeling taken aback by something, you can say voyons don’. (Don’ is in fact donc, but the c is silent here.) You can also say ben voyons don’ for more effect. (Ben sounds like bain; it’s a contraction of bien.) Voyons don’ is similar to the way you might say oh come on in English. For example, maybe you’ve just spilled your coffee for the second time today. Voyons don’! Come on! Or maybe a friend is getting back together with a terrible ex. Ben voyons don’! Oh come on!
Whether it’s pronounced with one syllable (as fak) or two (as fa-que), this means so, just like the French word alors. Faque qu’est-ce qu’on fait à soir? So what’re we gonna do tonight? Faque c’est ça! So there you have it! So there you go! Because of its resemblance to the English F word, a friend from Central America asks me if it’s rude to say faque. Nope! You can faque all you like.
You know how in English people say things like shoot, dang, crikey, cripes, etc., to avoid using the original swear word it comes from? Same thing with tabarnouche — it’s a toned-down version of the vulgar Québécois tabarnak. C’est un bon produit, mais tabarnouche! C’est super cher. It’s a good product, but jeez! It’s super expensive.
Here’s another thing you can say when you’re surprised, taken aback. Picture it — a mother has just told her son he can’t go out and play because he’s got homework to do. He says: Ben làààà! Oh come oooon! Nooo! Or maybe you’ve just found out that everyone at work got a pay increase but you. Ben là! What the? For real?
When you want to say it’s/that’s fine, it’s/that’s ok in French, you can say c’est correct. Maybe your partner just burnt the toast, but you don’t mind. C’est correct, là! C’est pas grave. It’s fine! It’s no big deal. Note that correct is pronounced informally as correc’ in spoken language, without the final t.
C’T’EN PLEIN ÇA
If a friend made a comment and you wanted to show your entire agreement, you might say c’t’en plein ça! Exactly! Spot on! C’t’en is a contraction of c’est en. It sounds like en with an st sound attached to the front (st’en). C’est en, on the other hand, sounds like cé t’en.
C’EST PAS ÉVIDENT
Not limited to Québécois French, this expression simply means it’s not easy, it’s complicated. Apprendre cinq langues en même temps, c’est pas évident! Learning five languages at once isn’t easy!
You just got a parking ticket? C’est plate. Broke up with your girlfriend? Ah c’est plate. You can use c’est plate (or c’est platte) in the same way you might say in English that stinks, that’s sucks, that’s too bad.
In spoken language, tu can serve the same purpose as est-ce que. C’est-tu, then, means the same thing as est-ce que c’est. This tu is not the second-person singular meaning you; instead, it’s used to form a yes-no question in informal language. C’est-tu correct? Is it/that okay? C’est-tu normal? Is it/that normal?
This literally means you’re sick, you’re ill (where t’es is a contraction of tu es sounding like té), but you’ll also hear t’es malade used informally in the sense of you’re crazy. T’es malade, toi! You’re crazy!