One of the first things you might’ve learned in French was how to say “how do you say X in French?” I’m guessing you probably learned to say it as comment dit-on X en français? This is correct, of course, but it doesn’t sound terribly colloquial.
Maybe you’ll remember from past posts that colloquial French avoids the inversion after question words like pourquoi, où, quand, comment. You’re not very likely, then, to hear comment dit-on…? in colloquial French.
During a conversation, someone asked me this very question in French. He wanted to know how to say blé in English. Here’s how he asked me the question:
Le blé en anglais, on appelle ça comment?
How do you say blé in English?
What’s blé called in English?
You’ll notice that the question word comment doesn’t appear until the very end. It’s possible to move it forward, but in this case there’s a high probability that you’ll hear a que get slipped in after it in colloquial language: le blé en anglais, comment qu’on appelle ça?
Just be aware that comment que is considered by certain people to be faulty because codified French doesn’t accept it. This means its use should be limited to informal language situations. At any rate, it’s not necessary for you to adopt comment que as a learner of French; the first example above (on appelle ça comment?) is fine for you to use in colloquial situations.
You’ll find more posts about comment que here. For example, we’ve already seen the question Oignon, comment qu’on écrit ça?, meaning how do you spell oignon? In this question, of course, comment que can also be avoided by moving comment to the end: Oignon, on écrit ça comment?
The OffQc book C’est what? will help you get your bearings in the colloquial variety of French spoken in Québec and pave the way for further independent study. You can buy and download it here.