Archive for the ‘Entries #1051-1100’ Category

Spotted this postcard in a Montréal bookshop (we saw others here and here from Tiguidou), where parked cars are depicted as being buried under snow:


Tu trouves-tu ton char?
Can you find your car?

tu trouves, you find
tu trouves-tu?, you find?
ton char, your car

In tu trouves-tu?, only the first tu means you. The second tu turns tu trouves into a yes-no question.

The second tu has the same function as est-ce que but is placed after the verb instead here.

tu trouves-tu?
= est-ce que tu trouves?

Both this yes-no tu and the word char in the sense of car are colloquial usages.


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Complexe Desjardins, à Montréal [février 2016]

Complexe Desjardins, à Montréal [février 2016]

As a continuation from the last post about comment qu’on écrit ça? and oignon/ognon, let’s look at more language used by the same animator from the 98,5 fm talkshow.

Referring to the spelling modifications that’ve been proposed, the animator said an equivalent of this in French:

You have to admit it’s confusing.

Do you know what word she might have used to say confusing?

She used mêlant. Here’s what she said:

Avoue qu’c’est mêlant.

(This literally means admit that it’s confusing.)

The contracted qu’ (from que) makes a k sound (avouk c’est mêlant).

If something’s mêlant, it causes confusion. On the other hand, someone in a state of confusion is said to be mêlé.

mêlant, confusing
mêlé, confused

J’su’ don’ ben mêlé, moi.
I’m really confused.

j’su’ (sounds like chu): contraction of je suis
don’ ben (sounds like don bain): used for emphasis


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On 98,5 fm, there was a discussion about the spelling modifications that have taken place in French.

The animator of the show brought up the example of the French word for onion, whose spelling has been modified, but whose old spelling is still considered acceptable nonetheless.

Jokingly, the animator asked in French in a slightly exasperated tone:

How do you spell it?

Can you say how she might’ve said that? She said it in a way typical of colloquial language.

Here’s how she said it:

Comment qu’on écrit ça?

That que in there can often be heard in spoken language — but you should be aware some people will tell you it’s incorrect. If you’re bothered by this, you can say comment on écrit ça?

We’ve seen other examples of que used like this recently, here and here.

So, onion in French… comment qu’on écrit ça?

  • oignon (old spelling)
  • ognon (new spelling)

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During a conversation, a man said in French an equivalent of:

They’re talking nonsense.

To say to talk nonsense, he used the expression dire n’importe quoi. Knowing this, can you now guess how he said it in a colloquial style?

He said:

I’ disent n’importe quoi.

I’, which sounds just like the French letter i, is a contraction of ils. In informal writing, this contraction is more often spelled y.

Do you remember that dire is pronounced by the Québécois as dzir? That’s because the letter d is pronounced dz when it comes before the French i and u sounds. Dire, then, sounds like dzir, and disent sounds like dziz.

N’importe quoi has four syllables — n’im / por / te / quoi. The final e of n’importe is heard.

To say that’s nonsense!, you can say:

C’est n’importe quoi!

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Here’s more French pulled straight from a conversation. A guy said an equivalent in French of:

That’s so cute!

Do you know how he might’ve said this?

To say it, he used the word cute, which, when used in French, is only heard in colloquial language. It’s pronounced as if it were written kioute in French (i.e., it follows English pronunciation).

Here’s what he said:

C’est don’ ben cute!

Don’ is in fact donc, but the final c isn’t pronounced here. The apostrophe is there to remind you.

Ben sounds like the French word bain. It’s a contraction of bien.

The words don’ and ben are very often used together for emphasis.

C’est don’ ben cute.
C’est don’ ben cher.
C’est don’ ben loin,

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During a conversation, one man told another in French an equivalent of:

I’ll get back to you on that.

Do you have any idea how you might hear someone say this in French?

Église du très Saint nom de Jésus, à Montréal

Église du très Saint nom de Jésus, à Montréal

As usual, there are different ways someone might say this, but here’s what the man said:

J’te r’viens là-d’ssus.

There are a number of contractions here, as you can see. In full, it’s:

Je te reviens là-dessus.
–> J’te r’viens là-d’ssus.

  • j’te sounds like ch’te
  • j’te r’viens sounds like ch’te’r / viens
  • là-d’ssus sounds like lad / su

Ch’te’r / viens / lad / su.

Là-dessus here means on it/that, about it/that, etc. The contracted là-d’ssus has two syllables: lad / su. This is how you’ll hear it pronounced in spoken language. It’s not a Québécois pronunciation; it’s a spoken language one common to all francophones.

Do you remember what m’as means, from entry #1086? Here’s a fuller example of the quote from above, this time using m’as as well:

M’as écouter ça p’is j’te r’viens là-d’ssus.
I’ll give it a listen ‘n’ get back to you.
(I’m going to listen to it and get back to you on it.) 

M’as (+ infinitive) means I’m gonna (+ infinitive). M’as rhymes with pas.

P’is is a contraction of puis. It sounds as though it were written pi in French. It means and, then here.


Mark asks about the expression tout craché. It’s used as a way of pointing out a person or thing’s resemblance to another.

C’est son père tout craché.
He’s the spitting image of his father.

Ce film, c’est du Almodóvar tout craché.
This film is just like Almodóvar’s [style].

Cette manière de faire, c’est lui tout craché.
This way of doing things, it’s very typical of him.

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Can you guess how a woman said “he seems really friendly” in French? Make an attempt, and then read on.

Métro Saint-Michel, à Montréal [février 2016]

Métro Saint-Michel, à Montréal [février 2016]

Maybe your guess included the adjective gentil, but the woman didn’t use it. Instead, she used the adjective fin. Fin (masculine) and fine (feminine) are very often used to describe someone as being nice, friendly.

Really can be said as très, vraiment in French, of course, but that’s not what the woman said. Instead, she said ben. It’s a contraction of bien, and it rhymes with the French word fin we just looked at. We could also spell it bin, but you’ll most often see it spelled ben.

What about to seem here? You can use the expression avoir l’air, meaning to seem, to look. For example, you might say what the woman said as y’a l’air ben fin, where y’a is a spoken language contraction of il a.

But… that’s not what she said either!

Here is what she said:

Y’a d’l’air ben fin.

The expression she used is avoir de l’air (pronounced avoir d’l’air), which is an informal variation on the expression avoir l’air.

Here are a a few more examples of this:

Y’a l’air ben sérieux.
Y’a d’l’air ben sérieux.
He seems, looks really serious.

T’as l’air ben fine.
T’as d’l’air ben fine.
You seem, look really friendly.

T’as rhymes with pas; it’s a contraction of tu as.

Ç’a l’air compliqué.
Ç’a d’l’air compliqué.
It seems, looks complicated.

Ç’a sounds like sa; it’s a contraction of ça a.

Ç’a l’air que non.
Ç’a d’l’air que non.
It seems not. It doesn’t appear so. It doesn’t look like it.

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