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Archive for the ‘Entries #1001-1050’ Category

During a conversation, I heard someone say a French equivalent of it went well. For example, if someone asked you how things had gone on your exam, you might say it went well (if it did indeed go well, of course).

How did the person say it in French?

Ça a bien été.

Ça a can contract to ç’a (sounds like sa), which gives us:

Ç’a bien été.

Because of the liaison, été is actually pronounced n’été here.

If someone tells you this expression doesn’t exist in French, don’t believe it. Ç’a bien été is very frequently used — in Québec, at any rate.

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In entry #1040, we saw a common expression underused by learners of Frenchça se peut. It means that’s possible.

In today’s post, let’s look at another common expression learners of French tend not to use.

This week, I returned an item I’d bought at a store. As the cashier was processing the return, she asked me to sign a form and to write in a reason for the return. She explained it didn’t really matter what the reason was; I just needed to write in anything. She said:

Ça prend juste une raison.
You just need (to provide) a reason.

Ça prend is used frequently in spoken language, but it’s usually not taught to learners of French. You’ve probably learned il faut, but not ça prend. They mean the same thing.

Pour magasiner en ligne, ça prend une carte de crédit.
You need a credit card to shop online.

Pour aller en Turquie, ça prend un billet d’avion.
You need a plane ticket to go to Turkey.

Ça prend literally means it takes (it takes a credit card; it takes a plane ticket), which is sometimes used in English too:

Ça prend du guts pour apprendre le français.
It takes guts to learn French.

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I took a look at some of the search terms visitors have used recently to land on OffQc via Google. In this post, I’ll try to provide the answers these visitors were looking for.

The search terms (in blue) are reproduced here exactly as the visitor spelled them in Google.

GOOGLE SEARCH TERMS #1:
french canadian pronunciation of the word “pet” (fart)

The French word for fart is un pet. What I think you were probably wondering is whether or not the t on the end of pet is pronounced. The answer is yes. You’ll hear pet pronounced pètt in Québec.

GOOGLE SEARCH TERMS #2:
le mot quebecois away la

The word you’re looking for is enweille or aweille. (The weille part sounds like the English word way. Other spellings are used as well, like awèye and enwèye.) Saying enweille! to someone is a way of motivating that person (as in you can do it!) or telling that person to get a move on, to hurry up (as in come on!).

For example, a coach might say enweille! to his players to encourage them (i.e., let’s go, you can do it!), or an angry parent might say it to his dillydallying child (i.e., come on, let’s go, move it!).

The expression let’s go! is also used in French, and it might be used alongside enweille:

Enweille, let’s go, let’s go!
You can do it, let’s go, let’s go!

Enweille, let’s go, let’s go!
Hurry up, let’s go, let’s go!

The Google searcher also wrote la in his search terms, which is of course là. can be used with enweille for emphasis: Enweille, là!

GOOGLE SEARCH TERMS #3:
meaning je capote

Je capote can mean either I love it! (when happy) or I’m flipping out! (when angry).

For example, if someone’s really excited about something (winning a prize, for example), that person might say je capote! (I love it! This is so awesome!). A person who’s really angry about something might also say je capote! (I’m flipping out! I’m freaking out!).

The spontaneously used pronunciation is in fact j’capote, which sounds like ch’capote. 

GOOGLE SEARCH TERMS #4:
expression prendre une brosse

The Québécois expression prendre une brosse means to get drunk, wasted, sloshed, etc. A variation on this expression is virer une brosse.

GOOGLE SEARCH TERMS #5
tu es fine in English

Tu es fine literally means you’re nice, you’re kind. It can also be translated as that’s kind of you. Fine is the feminine form. The masculine form is fin.

Remember, tu es contracts to t’es in regular speech (sounds like ), so you’ll hear it said spontaneously as t’es fine (for a woman) and t’es fin (for a man).

Other ways you can hear it said are: t’es ben fine, t’es ben fin and t’es don’ ben fine, t’es don’ ben fin. Ben sounds like the French word bain; it’s a contraction of bien. Ben fine and ben fin mean very kind, very nice. Don’ (from donc) adds even more emphasis. T’es don’ ben fine! (to a woman) You’re really kind! You’re really nice! That’s so very kind of you!

GOOGLE SEARCH TERMS #6
capoti bain bain raide

What you want is capoter ben ben raide. Here’s the verb capoter again. Capoter ben raide means to totally flip out (in anger), to flip out big time, to totally lose it, etc.

Again, ben is a contraction of bien; it sounds like the French word bain. It means really here, and it can be repeated for emphasis. Raide literally means stiff, but it’s used here to reinforce, like ben.

J’ai capoté ben raide!
I totally flipped out! I totally lost it! I lost it big time!

GOOGLE SEARCH TERMS #7
en calvaire québécois

In a recent post, we saw that être en tabarnak is a vulgar way of saying to be angry, similar to the English to be pissed off. Être en calvaire means the same thing. If you’re en calvaire, then you’re pissed off.

En calvaire can also be used as a rude reinforcer, like a vulgar version of the word très. (This goes for en tabarnak as well.) I’ fait chaud en calvaire, for example, means it’s really goddamn hot out.

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In the photo taken inside a supermarket, we read:

Joyeuse Halloween!
Happy Halloween!

Halloween is a feminine noun. The initial h isn’t pronounced.

Here’s a list of Halloween expressions and vocabulary in French, as used in Québec.

à l’Halloween
on Halloween

passer l’Halloween
to go trick-or-treating

passer de maison en maison
to go from house to house

fêter, célébrer l’Halloween
to celebrate Halloween

décorer la maison
to decorate the house

un costume d’Halloween
Halloween costume

se déguiser en vampire
to dress up as a vampire

ramasser des bonbons
to collect treats

donner de bonnes friandises
to give good candies

un suçon (sucker, lollipop), une tablette/barre de chocolat (chocolat bar), de la gomme à mâcher (chewing gum), un caramel (caramel), de la réglisse (liquorice), un petit sac de chips (small bag of chips)

une petite banque de l’UNICEF
a little UNICEF money box

un squelette (skeleton), une sorcière (witch), une citrouille (pumpkin), un vampire (vampire), un fantôme (ghost), une toile d’araignée (spider web), une princesse (princess), un clown (clown), un loup-garou (werewolf), un cimetière (cemetery)

sonner à la porte
sonner aux portes
to ring the doorbell
to ring doorbells

cogner, frapper à la porte
cogner, frapper aux portes
to knock on the door
to knock on doors

vider, découper et décorer une citrouille
to clean out, carve and decorate a pumpkin

Des bonbons, s’il vous plaît!
Halloweeeeen!
Joyeuse Halloween!

Trick or treat!

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I heard someone say this on the radio recently:

On est en tabarnouche!

What does it mean?

The expression être en tabarnak is a vulgar expression meaning to be pissed off. Tabarnak is a swear word; to tone down the vulgarity of it, someone might say tabarnouche instead. The person who said the quote above didn’t want to swear on the radio, so she used tabarnouche instead:

On est en tabarnouche!
We’re peeved! (i.e., angry)

Of course, if you didn’t want to tone it down at all and wanted to swear, it would be:

On est en tabarnak!
We’re pissed off! (i.e., angry)

Check how you’re pronouncing on est en:

The liaison occurs twice in on est en, so in reality it sounds like on n’é t’en. Remember, with the liaison, it’s really the following word whose pronunciation is affected, not the first. In on est en, the pronunciation of on doesn’t change; it’s the pronunciation of est that changes — it’s pronounced né. Similarly, en is in fact pronounced t’en.

Put a pause where you see a slash below to make sure you’re saying it right:

on / n’é / t’en

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In the Québécois French guide 1000, there’s an example question (#8) that reads:

Ça s’peut-tu?
Can that be? Is that possible?

We’ll come back to this question in a minute; let’s back up and look first at the verb se pouvoir.

Se pouvoir means être possible, to be possible.

Ça se peut.
= C’est possible.
= That’s possible.

If you say ça se peut exactly as written, it has three syllables: ça / se / peut. But se can lose its vowel sound in regular speech, so you’re much more likely to hear this pronounced with two syllables instead as: ça s’peut. To say this, just put the s sound on the end of ça, then say peut. (It sounds like sass peu).

Let’s say now that we want to ask is that possible?, i.e., turn ça s’peut into a yes-no question. Of course, you can put est-ce que in front of it and that would work (est-ce que ça s’peut?), but there’s a different way frequently used in regular conversations that you’ll want to know — it uses tu.

Ça s’peut.
Ça s’peut-tu?
That’s possible.
Is that possible?

Remember, this tu doesn’t mean you. All it does is transform ça s’peut into a yes-no question in an informal way. This tu means the same thing as est-ce que, but whereas est-ce que is put before the subject, tu is placed after the verb.

The question ça s’peut-tu? has three syllables: ça s’ / peut / tu. (It sounds like sass peu tu. But maybe you’ll remember that the letter t before the French u sound in fact sounds like ts in Québécois French [like the ts in the English word cats], so, more accurately, we can say it sounds like sass peu tsu.)

In a conversation yesterday, I heard someone say:

Ça s’peut très bien.
That may very well be.
That’s entirely possible.

He could’ve said this after having been asked ça s’peut-tu?, for example.

The next time you want to say c’est possible in a conversation, for a change use ça s’peut instead. There’s nothing wrong with c’est possible, of course, but ça s’peut is used so frequently that you can be using it too. You can incorporate the informally asked ça s’peut-tu? into your usage as well, and surprise your listeners with your natural-sounding French.

If you want to read more about what’s in the Québécois French guide 1000, that’s here. If you want to buy and download it right now, that’s here.

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zervice? oufert?

zervice? oufert?

The advert on the back of this Montréal bus says that parts and service is open until 11:30… well, sort of:

Zervice et pièces oufert jusqu’à 23 h 30

Can you guess why service and ouvert are spelled zervice and oufert?

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