In #1124 (un paquet de gens) and #1125 (gratter la guitare, starter), we looked at some French taken from an edition of the Montréal newspaper 24 Heures. In fact, there’s one more bit of language from that same edition to look at.
In an area of Montréal called Hochelaga, a restaurant specialising in grilled cheese was broken into. An article tells us un petit restaurant d’Hochelaga spécialisé en grilled cheese a été vandalisé.
The perpetrator managed to steal only 100 dollars from the cash register. The owners say it was probably un «petit bum» qui avait besoin d’argent pour consommer de la drogue.
[Source: «Leur restaurant vandalisé après une semaine d’ouverture» (Frédérique Giguère), 24 Heures Montréal, 13-15 mai 2016, vol. 16, no. 44, p. 14.]
Un bum (sometimes spelled phonetically as bomme) is what’s also known in French as un voyou, un délinquant, un bon à rien — someone who does nothing with his life or gets up to no good.
This gave rise to the verb bummer (or bommer), which might be used in the sense of lazing around doing nothing (passer son temps à bummer) or in the sense of “bumming” (receiving) things from other people rather than paying for it oneself (bummer quelque chose à quelqu’un), like a cigarette (une smoke, une cigarette).
J’peux-tu t’bummer une smoke?
Can I bum a smoke off you? (In other words: Can you give me a cigarette [because I don’t have any of my own to smoke]?)
J’peux-tu means the same thing as est-ce que je peux. The tu here turns je peux into a yes-no question. The contracted j’peux sounds like ch’peux.
The OffQc book Contracted French will help you to make sense of the most frequently used contractions heard in spoken language and increase your understanding of what francophones are saying to you. You can buy and download it here.