Archive for the ‘Entries #1001-1050’ Category

I thought this was interesting: McDonalds has a new dish — smoked meat poutine in English, or poutine au smoked meat in French. (See screenshots below.) Both terms are half English, half French, using the same words.

French version:

English version:

What’s also interesting is the use of italics in the French version’s description (and lack thereof in the English version), which tells us something interesting about how speakers of each language view borrowed words.

In the French version’s description (click on the image to read it; it’s in the blue section), smoked meat is in italics because the term comes from English. Bouffe, meaning food, is also in italics because it’s an informal usage.

When you go to the English version’s description, maybe you’d likewise expect poutine to be in italics because it comes from French — except it’s not. It’s treated like any other English word.

The use of italics on smoked meat in French isn’t really surprising — words borrowed from English are frequently put in italics. But this does tell us something important about how words borrowed from English are viewed. By using italics, we’re being reminded that such words fall outside of what’s considered to be “French.”

It’s as if the author or translator is saying to readers, “yes, this is the way it’s said — smoked meat — but we probably shouldn’t say it that way, so we’ll need italics here to signal that.”

What about the italics on bouffe? Italics here are more surprising. Bouffe is a French word — informal, yes, but not borrowed from English. Bouffe and smoked meat, though, get the same treatment: italics. This tells us something as well about how informal words are viewed, at least by the author or translator of this text. If bouffe was put in italics, we can probably assume that words like pogner, capoter, niaiser, etc., would’ve been as well, had they been used.

The English version doesn’t use any italics in the description. In fact, it would seem downright odd to see poutine put in italics in the English version, wouldn’t it?

As for informal words, there aren’t any in the English text equivalent to bouffe, but let’s imagine for a minute that an informal word really had been used: yummy, let’s say. If this word had been used, do you think it would’ve been put in italics?

Read Full Post »

At a store, I heard one employee ask another the equivalent of this in French:

Does he have his card?

Can you guess how the employee might’ve said it? She said it in an informal way, without using est-ce que.

Here’s what the employee said:

Y’a-tu sa carte?

In this question, y’a-tu means does he have?, has he got?

Here’s why:

Il a sa carte means he has his card. But, in colloquial language, it’s more likely to be pronounced y’a sa carte. (This is because the final L sound of il is very frequently not pronounced: i’ a sa carte.) Then, by putting tu after the verb, we turn y’a sa carte into an informally asked yes-no question: y’a-tu sa carte? (Remember, this tu doesn’t mean you.)

In other questions, y’a-tu can mean is there?, are there?

Y’a-tu un problème?
Is there a problem?

This time, though, y’a is an informal pronunciation of il y a, not il a. This informal pronunciation occurs because the il of il y a is losing its L sound again: i’ y a. Then, by putting tu after the verb again, we create an informally asked yes-no question: y’a-tu?, is there?, are there?

Read Full Post »

I grabbed a handful of usages that have appeared on OffQc since post #1000 and put them in a cloud. Can you explain to yourself how each one might be used? You can click on the image for a larger version.

Read Full Post »

During a conversation, someone said:

[bla bla bla bla bla]… et là, mon téléphone sonne.

You’ll find it really useful to learn how to use like this. It means then here. (This is not the same that you read about recently in #1029.)

When you’re recounting past events in a conversation, you can use the expressions et là or, more informally, pis là the way English says and then. In the example above, the verb is in the present tense, but it’s understood that the events occurred in the past.

[bla bla bla bla bla]… et là, mon téléphone sonne.
[blah blah blah blah blah]… and then, my phone rang.

Et là and pis là both mean the same thing. Pis là sounds as if it were written pi là. Pis is a spoken contraction of puis.

You can also say on its own without et or pis before it.

Read Full Post »


There’s an ad running on Radio-Canada where the speaker says:

Y’a ben trop d’stock.

Maybe you’re getting used to seeing these informal contractions and recognise this as meaning:

Il y a bien trop de stock.

What you might be less sure of though is the word stock.

Although stock can mean stock (as in merchandise), it was used here instead in the general sense of stuff. This is an informal, conversational usage.

Y’a ben trop d’stock.
There’s way too much stuff.

Y’a ben trop d’stock dans ta valise.
There’s way too much stuff in your suitcase.

To pronounce trop d’stock, first say trop. Now put a d sound on the end of trop (like tro’d’). Now add the word stock. Trop d’stock has two syllables.

Remember, ben sounds like the French word bain.

In fact, we’ve seen this use of stock before. In an earlier post, Louis (from Les Parent) is helping his teenaged son with his homework, but his son is having trouble doing it.

Louis doesn’t see why his son shouldn’t understand his homework because it’s below his grade level. He gets frustrated with his son and tells him that what they’re working on is du stock de troisième année, grade three stuff.

Read Full Post »

On TV, a speaker said:

en plus de ça

I don’t remember the whole of what he said, but we can imagine an example like this:

J’ai voyagé partout et, en plus de ça, j’ai été payé pour me déplacer.
I travelled everywhere and, what’s more, I was paid to travel.

When the speaker said en plus de ça, he used an informal pronunciation. What he said in fact sounded like this:

en plus de t’ça

If you want to try to pronounce it yourself to hear how it sounds, here’s how to do it:

First, say de aloud. Now say de with a t sound on the end of it. Now add ça after that. That gets you de t’ça.

Now you can say en plus de t’ça, where plus sounds like plu.

This informal pronunciation of de ça as de t’ça isn’t uncommon at all. You’ll hear it frequently in informal conversations. It can occur whenever de ça is used, and not just in the expression en plus de ça.

That said, you don’t need to adopt de t’ça yourself (de ça is always acceptable, even in informal conversations), but do learn to recognise it.

Read Full Post »

Here’s more French as spoken by Ricardo.

As he was preparing a dish before his televised audience, he said to go easy on the salt when adding it to his preparation. His exact words were:

Mollo sur le sel.
Easy on the salt.

Use normal French stress when pronouncing mollo (i.e., on final syllable). Mollo means gently, with moderation.

At the same time that he said mollo sur le sel, he also said:

On se garde une p’tite gêne.
We’ll hold off, we’ll hold back, let’s show some restraint, etc.

This was Ricardo’s way of insisting further on not using too much salt.

You’ve seen the expression se garder une petite gêne before when a TELUS advertising campaign linked it to pulling out one’s penis at inopportune moments.

Ricardo also uses this expression a lot:

Grosso modo.
More or less.

Use normal French stress when pronouncing grosso modo (i.e., on final syllables). Grosso modo means more or less, approximately.

Ricardo uses this expression when the amount of an ingredient to be added doesn’t need to be exact, just approximate. For example: une cuillère à soupe, grosso modo, a tablespoon, more or less.

The expression grosso modo can be used in any kind of conversation where you want to say more or less, not just when talking about cooking.

Whenever Ricardo wants to stress that preparing something in a certain way is very important, he often says:

C’est ben important.
It’s really important.

Ben is an informal, spoken contraction of bien; it sounds like the French word bain. Ben important sounds like bain n’important.

1. Mollo sur le sel.
2. On se garde une p’tite gêne.
3. Grosso modo.
4. C’est ben important.

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »