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Archive for March, 2016

An elderly woman talked about how she’d slipped on an icy patch of the street, landing on her bum. Can you guess how she said I fell on my bum in French?

To say it, she used the verb tomber and the noun fesses.

Make your guess, and we’ll look at the answer after the image…

Dans le Vieux-Montréal (mars 2016)

Here’s what the woman said:

J’ai tombé s’es fesses.

This is a colloquial equivalent of je suis tombée sur les fesses.

Let’s look in detail at j’ai tombé s’es fesses.

S’es is a contraction of sur les often heard in spoken language. First, sur contracts to su’, and les contracts to ‘es. S’es is a result of the contracted forms su’ and ‘es coming together.

What about j’ai tombé?

In prescribed or codified French (the French you learn in school), the past tense must be said as je suis tombé. However, the form j’ai tombé also exists in French. It’s not accepted in prescribed French today, but it can still be heard in colloquial French.

The form j’ai tombé makes more sense than je suis tombé in our example above. J’ai tombé places the accent on the action (I fell), whereas je suis tombé insists on the state (I am fallen).

Considering that the woman wasn’t sitting on her bum in the street when she said it, it makes more sense to insist on the action — j’ai tombé. If instead she were sitting on her bum when she said it, then je suis tombée (or chu tombée) would make sense.

Alas, prescribed French doesn’t care unfortunately about this useful distinction. Only je suis tombé is allowed in prescribed French, whether it’s the action or state that’s being insisted upon.

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Buildings reflected in a wall of glass in Montréal

Lindsey asks about the Québécois expression crisser dehors, which came up in the last post.

You’ll remember that this expression (considered to be swearing in French) can be translated in English as something like to throw (someone) the fuck out, to fucking get rid of (someone), etc.

In the expression crisser dehors, it’s the verb crisser that’s a swear word because it derives from the name Christ.

Lindsey asks if you can use this expression in command form to tell someone to fuck off. No, you can’t. Here’s how you can use it (and then we’ll look at how fuck off might be rendered in French):

On m’a crissé dehors.
They threw me the fuck out,
They fucking kicked me out,
They fucking fired me, etc.

M’as te crisser dehors.
I’m gonna throw you the fuck out,
I’m gonna fucking kick you out, etc.

We looked at the meaning of m’as in this recent post.

Je l’ai crissé dehors.
I threw him the fuck out,
I fucking kicked him out,
I fucking sacked him, etc.

J’viens d’me faire crisser dehors.
I just got fucking fired,
They just fucking fired me,
I just got the fucking sack,
They just got the fuck rid of me, etc.

Je viens de me faire crisser dehors.
= On vient de me crisser dehors.

In all these examples, it’s important to note that crisser dehors doesn’t simply mean to throw (someone) out, to kick (someone) out. Remember, crisser is swearing, so it equates to something much stronger in English, like to throw (someone) the fuck out, to give (someone) the fucking sack, etc.

To get back to Lindsey’s question, you can’t say crisse dehors! to someone in the sense of fuck off!

Instead, you can use the verb décrisser, which has crisser as its root:

Décrisse!
Fuck off! Piss off!
Get the fuck away from me!
Take a fucking hike!

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In a recent article in the Journal de Montréal, a journalist provided examples of swearing committed by politicians.

I’ve listed the examples below, with a translation into English. Be prepared for foul language.

1. Va chier
Fuck off; literally, it means go shit
— Christine St-Pierre

2. Vieille plotte
Old cunt
— Thomas Mulcair

3. Tas de merde
The insult was said in English as piece of shit; the French here is the newspaper’s translation of that, but a more authentic wording would be tas de marde
— Justin Trudeau

4. Grosse crisse
Fat fuck; had this been said to a man, it would’ve been gros crisse
— Norman MacMillan

5. Fuck off
Not too hard to figure out…
— Pierre Elliott Trudeau

6. Crisser dehors
This expression means to throw someone the fuck out, to fucking get rid of someone
— Christine Moore

7. Crosseurs
A crosseur is someone who screws other people over
— Thomas Mulcair

8. Crisse de folle
Crazy bitch; more literally, it means fucking madwoman
— Danielle St-Amand

9. Maudite chienne
Damn bitch
— Jean Charest

Reference

“Vos députés se chicanent, s’insultent et s’excusent” by Sarah-Maude Lefebvre in Journal de Montréal, 20 March 2016, pp. 22-23. Online here

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Les armoiries du Canada encastrées dans un mur, au centre-ville de Montréal

Les armoiries du Canada encastrées dans un mur, au centre-ville de Montréal

Steve asks about a French expression:

C’est pas vrai!

Literally, of course, this means that’s not true. But it can be used the way, in English, you might say things like no way! get outta here!, etc., to express disbelief or amazement.

For example, if a friend told you he’d won a few thousand dollars in the lottery, you could express your amazement by exclaiming c’est pas vrai!

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Inside one of Montréal's new métro trains (March 2016)

Inside one of Montréal’s new métro trains (March 2016)

In the last post, we saw how a saleslady in Montréal said:

Vous avez rien trouvé à vot’ goût?

She said this to two customers on their way out of the shop, upon seeing that they hadn’t bought anything.

She also said something else to them, the meaning of which you should learn:

Bye, au plaisir!

What’s understood in this expression is au plaisir de vous revoir, or au plaisir de te revoir (looking forward to seeing you again; see you again soon, etc.). You can say it when saying good-bye to someone.

If you signed off an email with au plaisir, then what’s understood is looking forward to hearing back from you, to hearing from you again soon, etc.

This is a nice, short expression you can learn, so as to avoid making long and convoluted literal translations of the English versions above.

News:

I’m still working on the next OffQc guide (the one about contractions). I won’t say when it’ll be ready yet because I’m still busy with it, but I’m getting closer to finishing every day. In the meantime, you can get caught up with the guides that are already on sale, if you haven’t got them yet:

All are available here in the OffQc store.

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Boulevard Saint-Joseph, à Montréal [mars 2016]

Before we look at the question in the title, consider this situation:

In a shop in Montréal, two customers left without buying anything. On their way out, the saleslady asked them in French an equivalent of you didn’t find anything you liked?

Can you guess how she might have asked this?

She didn’t use the verb aimer.

She didn’t used the verb plaire, either.

But she did use the noun gôut. More specifically, she used the expression à votre goût, meaning to your liking. Can you make a guess now?

Here’s what she said:

Vous avez rien trouvé à vot’ goût?
You didn’t find anything you liked?
(You didn’t find anything to your liking?)

Remember, ne is omitted in spoken language; rather than vous n’avez rien trouvé, you’ll hear vous avez rien trouvé.

Votre was pronounced colloquially as vot’, which sounds like the French word vote.

Let’s look now at the question in the title.

In a restaurant, a waiter or waitress might ask you:

Est-ce que c’est à votre goût?
Everything good? ok?
(Is it to your liking?)

In this case, you’re being asked if you like the dish that’s been served to you.

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