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Archive for the ‘Entries #101-150’ Category

Thomas is a typical teen — he’s very concerned with his appearance. He’s standing in front of his bedroom mirror checking out how he looks, turning from side to side, unconvinced.

That’s when his younger brother Olivier walks into the room, frustrated. Olivier wants to know what’s taking Thomas so long to get ready; everybody’s waiting for him so that they can leave. Olivier loses patience and says to his brother:

Qu’est-ce tu gosses, Thomas?! Envoye!* Grouille!
What the heck are you doin’, Thomas?! Come on! Hurry up!

[Said by the character Olivier in Les Parent, “La réalité dépasse la friction,” season 3, episode 12, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 17 January 2011.]

*Sounds like en-wéy.

Lots of informal language in this example!

Gosser can take on different meanings in the informal French of Quebec. Here, it’s used in the sense of “to (needlessly) busy away at something.” Thomas is wasting time by staring in the mirror, trying to look just right. The verb gosser has other meanings as well, but let’s just stick with this one for now.

The question started with qu’est-ce (sounds like “kess”). Sometimes, qu’est-ce que gets shortened to qu’est-ce when speaking informally.

Both envoye and grouille mean “come on!” or “hurry up!” Envoye is pronounced en-wéy. It’s sometimes also spelt as anweille or enweille. Grouille is pronounced grou-iy.

By the way, Thomas is pronounced to-mâ.

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In the series 30 vies, trouble’s brewing at the école secondaire du Vieux-Havre. One of the students there has a knife hidden in his locker.

A student named Dominique knows about the knife. Even though he’s friends with the student who’s got the knife, he informs a teacher named Gabrielle about it. He tells her that the student with the knife has got it dans sa case, “in his locker.”

The reason I’ve picked this example is for the pronunciation of case.

If you aren’t familiar with the â sound, you might not understand the word case when you hear it. Rather than “kazz,” case is generally pronounced “kawz” in regular conversations. This is the â sound.

Here are a few other words that contain the â sound: gâteau, château, classe, tasse, passer.

Once you start tuning into this sound, you’ll hear it more often. It’s a distinctive feature of the Quebec French accent.

[This entry was inspired by the character Dominique in 30 vies, season 1, episode 23, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 16 February 2011.]

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When someone says they “don’t want to burst your bubble,” what they say next usually does burst your bubble! But how might someone say this expression informally in French? Read on.

The electricity has been cut in the neighbourhood where the Parent family lives. No lights. No computers. No TV. The kids are bored. Zak, the youngest of the boys, suggests they play music to entertain themselves.

That’s when Thomas chimes in by saying to Zak j’veux pas péter ta balloune là, mais…, or “I don’t want to burst your bubble, but…”

J’veux is an informal pronunciation of je veux. J’veux is pronounced informally with one syllable; je veux uses two. Balloune is an informal noun.

So, what news did Thomas have that was going to burst Zak’s bubble? The only instruments they’ve got at home are a guitar and a keyboard… both electric.

Ah. No music, then!

[This entry was inspired by the character Thomas in Les Parent, “Vedettes électriques,” season 3, episode 13, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 24 January 2011.]

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Remember Claude? La bitch from La Galère?

Her husband, Antoine, has forced her into a life of simplicité volontaire to test whether or not she’s with him for love or for money.

Of course, Claude couldn’t care less about love. She’s all for the cash and getting as much out of Antoine as possible.

During an argument, Antoine loses his temper. Claude provokes him by telling him he’s sexy when he’s choqué.

Apart from its usual meaning of “shocked” or “offended,” choqué is also an informal way of saying “angry” in Quebec French.

Similarly, the verb se choquer is sometimes used in the same way as se fâcher or se mettre en colère. This difference is that this use is informal.

[This entry was inspired by the character Claude in La Galère, season 3, episode 6, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 25 October 2010.]

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Does the sound come to mind when you think of how Quebec French sounds to your ears? If so, I won’t blame you; the word is used v-e-r-y frequently during informal conversations!

Depending on how is used, its meaning changes. In a scene from La Galère, we hear Stéphanie use it in the sense of “right away” when she tells another character: Viens-t’en là là, or “Come right away.”

To pronounce là là correctly, insist a little more on the first than on the second.

The more the first is stressed and the louder the voice, the more impatient or angry the speaker sounds!

You can read another example of là là in entry #151, where it takes on a different meaning. See entry #206 for a review.

[This entry was inspired by the character Stéphanie in La Galère, season 3, episode 8, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 8 November 2010.]

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The main characters of La Galère are four women. Each one has a defining personality trait:

Mimi is the innocent romantic; Stéphanie is the dysfunctional mother; Isabelle is the stressed-out career woman trying to make it big; and Claude is the self-absorbed bitch! (But she’s proud of it.)

True to character, Claude got married for money. But when she becomes convinced that her new husband hasn’t got a cent, she freaks out. She thinks he’s tricked her into a moneyless marriage. During a conversation with two friends, Claude tells them je me suis fait niaiser solide.

Se faire niaiser?

Niaiser quelqu’un means “to kid someone,” or even “to bullshit someone.”

Example:

Tu me niaises, là?!
Are you kidding me?!

Se faire niaiser turns the action back to the speaker. It can mean something like “to be made a fool of” or “to get taken in.”

Solide is an informal way of saying “totally” or “in a big way.”

Claude pronounced the past participle fait in je me suis fait niaiser solide as though it were written faite. Informally, this isn’t uncommon.

[This entry was inspired by the character Claude in La Galère, season 3, episode 2, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 27 September 2010.]

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Back in the days of New France, average families had very little furniture in their houses; the furniture they did have was simple. A chair was often nothing more than part of a tree trunk cut down to size — une bûche.

Can you see how the following expression entered the French language?

Tire-toi une bûche!
Pull up a seat!

Even today, the expression tire-toi une bûche is sometimes used in a lighthearted way to tell people to sit down.

[This entry was inspired by the character Louise in Penthouse 5-0, “Revenir de loin,” season 1, episode 3. Radio-Canada, Montreal, 24 January 2011. Here, Louise used this expression to tell a character who had just asked a question to pull up a seat. Why? Because the answer was going to be a very long one…]

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