Archive for the ‘Entries #1051-1100’ Category

For those of you working through the new Contracted French book or who are thinking of buying it, check out the song called Octobre by Les Cowboys Fringants. (I can’t find an official version of the video to put here, but you’ll find the song on YouTube.)

The first four lines are:

Y’a tout l’temps quat’ ronds d’allumés 
Su’l’feu d’mes ambitions 
À force de m’dépasser 
J’me perds moi-même dans l’horizon

In just these four lines, there are seven very important informal contractions to know. All of them are explored in Contracted French.

Can you identify the informal contractions?

Y’a [1] tout l’temps [2] quat’ [3] ronds d’allumés 
Su’l’feu [4] d’mes [5] ambitions 
À force de m’dépasser [6]
J’me [7] perds moi-même dans l’horizon

If you’re working with Contracted French right now, here’s where you’ll find info about these kinds of contractions:

  1. y’a, chapter 3
  2. tout l’temps, chapter 5
  3. quat’, chapter 12
  4. su’l’feu, chapter 5
  5. d’mes, chapter 6
  6. de m’dépasser, chapter 7
  7. j’me, chapter 7

In the book, you’ll discover how to form these contractions yourself in similar phrases. I also explain in detail how to pronounce the contractions, and these explanations are backed up with audio so you can listen to the contractions too.

For example, de me dépasser and de m’dépasser don’t sound the same. The full de me dépasser has five syllables, whereas the contracted de m’dépasser has four. It’s these details that make your French sound natural if you apply them yourself when you speak (and unnatural or stilted if you don’t apply them). It’s also these details that make listening to French so challenging for the uninitiated.

If you take the lyrics above and rework them into full, uncontracted form, here’s what you get:

Il y a tout le temps quatre ronds d’allumés 
Sur le feu de mes ambitions 
À force de me dépasser 
Je me perds moi-même dans l’horizon

Some vocab:

rond, burner, element (like on a stove)
allumé, lit
à force de, due to the effort of, through (my) effort of
me dépasser, to outdo myself

A very literal translation:

There are always four burners lit
On the fire of my ambitions
By always outdoing myself
I lose myself in the horizon

Sur le feu de mes contracts to su’l’feu d’mes. It goes from five syllables (in full form) to just three (in contracted form). Can you say su’l’feu d’mes in three syllables?

Contractions are a challenging area to master in French. Give yourself lots of time for contractions to become part of your usual French. Remember, keep listening to as much spoken French as you can; give yourself as many opportunities as possible for them to sink in.

Now that you know je me perds contracts to j’me perds, can you say how je me donne contracts? What about je me dis and je me suis? (Don’t forget that suis can take on contracted forms too! This is also dealt with in Contracted French and its mp3 files.)

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Boulevard Saint-Joseph, à Montréal [mars 2016]

Before we look at the question in the title, consider this situation:

In a shop in Montréal, two customers left without buying anything. On their way out, the saleslady asked them in French an equivalent of you didn’t find anything you liked?

Can you guess how she might have asked this?

She didn’t use the verb aimer.

She didn’t used the verb plaire, either.

But she did use the noun gôut. More specifically, she used the expression à votre goût, meaning to your liking. Can you make a guess now?

Here’s what she said:

Vous avez rien trouvé à vot’ goût?
You didn’t find anything you liked?
(You didn’t find anything to your liking?)

Remember, ne is omitted in spoken language; rather than vous n’avez rien trouvé, you’ll hear vous avez rien trouvé.

Votre was pronounced colloquially as vot’, which sounds like the French word vote.

Let’s look now at the question in the title.

In a restaurant, a waiter or waitress might ask you:

Est-ce que c’est à votre goût?
Everything good? ok?
(Is it to your liking?)

In this case, you’re being asked if you like the dish that’s been served to you.


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Here’s more French heard on the radio.

A speaker, in reference to Lenny Kravitz, said an equivalent of this in French on air: He hasn’t changed one bit.

Can you guess how? She used the word poil.

Here’s what she said:

Y’a pas changé d’un poil.

This is a colloquial equivalent of il n’a pas changé d’un poil. Ne pas changer d’un poil means to not change one bit.

Poil, though, wasn’t pronounced the way you’re probably thinking it was. It was pronounced as pouèl, or as “pwell” using an anglicised spelling.

This is an alternate pronunciation heard in Québec. If you came to Québécois French by way of traditional music, for example, you’ve maybe noticed in songs that oi might be pronounced in other words too, like toile and étoile.

It’s not necessary for you to adopt this pronunciation, but it’s good to be aware of it. You may hear some older speakers use it, or hear it in rural settings.

The speaker who used it on the radio did so not because it was her usual way of pronouncing the word, but as a form of emphasis. Here’s how she really said it:

Y’a pas changé d’un pouèèèlllll.

She used this pronunciation and drew it out for effect.


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During a conversation, someone said an equivalent in French of go early.

As an example, maybe you’d say go early to someone who needed to go to a walk-in clinic to see a doctor, and you wanted to advise that person to go first thing in the morning before many other people arrived.

How might you say go early then?

Here’s what the person said:

Vas-y de bonne heure.
Go early.

The expression de bonne heure means early.


Five years ago to the day, we looked at a quote from the TV show 19-2:

The scene:

Two policemen have been called to investigate a building. When they arrive, they step out of their patrol car. That’s when one of the policemen sees someone moving about inside the building. To alert his partner, he says: Y’a què’qu’un en d’dans! There’s someone inside!

Y’a què’qu’un en d’dans is a contraction of il y a quelqu’un en dedans.

In colloquial language, quelqu’un can lose its l. The contracted què’qu’un sounds like quèc’un.

You’ll remember that là-dessus contracts to là-d’ssus (sounds like ladsu) in spoken language. Similarly, en dedans loses a syllable and contracts to en d’dans (sounds like anddan).


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Remember the verb pogner?

Broadly speaking, the informal pogner means to grab, catch, nab, etc. It’s pronounced ponn-yé or, using IPA, pɔɲePogner rhymes with the verb cogner.

You can use pogner to render into French I just got caught, in a colloquial style.

If pogner quelqu’un means to catch, nab someone, then se faire pogner means to get caught, nabbed.

Can you now guess how you might say it French?

Montréal [février 2016]

Montréal [février 2016]

Je viens de me faire pogner.
I just got caught.
I’ve just been caught.

Je viens de me faire pogner par la police.
I just got caught by the police.
I’ve just been caught by the police.

What about I’d just got/gotten caught — how would you say that?

Je venais de me faire pogner.
I’d just got/gotten caught.
I’d just been caught.

Je venais de me faire pogner quand j’ai réalisé…
I’d just got/gotten caught when I realised…
I’d just been caught when I realised…

Another example using je venais de:

J’avais 24 ans et je venais de terminer mes études.
I was 24 years old and I’d just finished my studies.


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