Archive for the ‘Entries #201-250’ Category

C’est beau (#244)

A French expression you’ll often hear used in Quebec is: C’est beau. Can you guess the meaning of it from the example below?

OK, OK, c’est beau. C’est correct, là. J’ai compris…

In this example, c’est beau is just another way of saying d’accord.

You may remember from other entries that correct as used in the example above means “OK.” You’ll often hear it pronounced as correc. C’est correct, when said quickly and informally, can sound like scorrec.

[This entry was inspired by the series Les Invincibles, season 1, episode 1, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 14 September 2005.]

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In the last entry (#242), you read how the word affaires was used in the sense of “things,” or choses. (A frustrated wife told her husband: Tu me montres des affaires que j’aime vraiment pas.)

Continuing on with the word affaire, here’s another example of use.

If you saw an object and you didn’t know what it was, you might exclaim:

C’est quoi cette affaire-là?
What’s that thing?

When spoken quickly, it would sound more like:

C’est quoi c’t’affaire-là?
(c’t’affaire sounds like staffaire)

This expression has a few more uses that we’ll explore in later entries.

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The other day, I spent a bit of time at the Plaza St-Hubert in Montreal. As I was walking down the street, an older couple in their late 60s walked out of a clothing shop. When I stepped out of the way to make room for them on the sidewalk, I saw they were having an argument.

The wife was telling her husband (or at least I’m assuming it was her husband…) that she wasn’t going to let him buy her any clothes. Exasperated, she let him know why by saying:

Tu me montres des affaires que j’aime vraiment pas!
You just show me stuff that I really don’t like!

You’d think they’d know by now that they don’t share the same taste in clothes!

Why have I chosen this quote? It’s because of the word affaires. In regular conversations, you’ll hear affaires quite frequently. In the example above, it simply means “things” or “stuff,” just like the word choses.

On a different note, the wife rrrolled her letter Rs when she said that. In Montreal, rolling (or trilling) your Rs was commonly heard in the past, but it has disappeared among today’s generation of native speakers. You can still hear some older speakers who trill their Rs, however.

In fact, when someone wants to imitate an older person’s accent, he may start rolling his Rs when he speaks!

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Tu me tannes (#241)

Maybe you’ll remember that the adjective tanné is used at an informal level in Quebec to mean “fed up” or “sick of” in the expression être tanné.


Je suis tanné.
I’m fed up. I’ve had it.

Je suis tanné de faire ça.
I’m sick of doing that.

You’ll also come across the expression tanner quelqu’un, which means “to irritate someone.”

In a scene from the TV series 30 vies, we hear a teenaged boy called Blaise say the following to Massoud, another student at his school:

Tu me tannes.

In other words, “you irritate me.” Blaise said this because Massoud wouldn’t leave him alone and kept nagging away at him. Blaise said tu me fatigues to Massoud in this same scene as well.

Tu me tannes and tu me fatigues are softer versions of tu me fais chier, which means something more like “you’re pissing me off.” In fact, Blaise also said tu me fais chier in this scene!

[This entry was inspired by the character Blaise in 30 vies, season 1, episode 50, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 5 April 2011.]

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Zak is an eight-year-old boy who thinks it’s time people started treating him like a teenager. In a scene from the TV show Les Parent, he’s in his bedroom with a friend from school. They’re both sitting on his bed.

Suddenly, Zak’s older brother Olivier bursts into the room. Zak and his friend quickly hide something under the bed to prevent Olivier from seeing what they’re up to.

Olivier can tell they’re hiding something, however. He asks the two boys what they’re doing, and they start to act nervous. When Zak answers back that they were just listening to some music in the bedroom, Olivier tells the boys:

Prenez-moi pas pour un cave.

[Said by the character Olivier in Les Parent, “Les flonflons du bal,” season 3, episode 19, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 7 March 2011.]

In other words: “Don’t take me for an idiot” (or perhaps more natural sounding in English: “I’m not stupid, ya know.”). Olivier says this because he knows that the two boys were doing something else but won’t say.

Olivier hangs around for a little bit to see if he can figure out what’s going on, but he eventually gives up.

Two informal features in what Olivier said:

Instead of ne me prenez pas, he said prenez-moi pas. Simply adding pas here after prenez-moi to make it negative is a feature of informal speech.

The informal noun un cave means “an idiot.”

It turns out that Zak and his friend were just playing with their figurines (action figures) in the bedroom, but they were quick to hide them under the bed when Olivier came in. Remember, Zak wants to convince everybody that he’s a teenager now (an eight-year-old one!), so he doesn’t want to be caught playing with his toys…

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You know how to say “something” in French: quelque chose. But sometimes you’ll hear “something” said in a different way, a way that you might be less familiar with. This other way uses de quoi.

For example:

Je peux te dire de quoi?
= Je peux te dire quelque chose?

Mais dis de quoi!
= Mais dis quelque chose!

J’ai mangé de quoi de sucré.
= J’ai mangé quelque chose de sucré.

Try listening for de quoi when you hear people speak in French.

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Another example from the newspaper Métro today:

Les libraires ont la chienne 1

That’s how a headline read in the 29-31 July edition in Montreal. This isn’t the first time you’re coming across the expression avoir la chienne.

You came across this expression in entry #225 in a quote from the TV series 30 vies. That’s where you read that it can be used to describe feeling scared or terrified.

Can you guess then why booksellers ont la chienne?

The article explains that the iPad represents such a threat that 500 000 euros went into a campaign in France to raise awareness about the importance of booksellers.

Ads in newspapers there asked: Qui m’aidera à faire le bon choix si mon libraire n’est plus là? 1

1 « Les libraires ont la chienne » (29-31 juillet 2011). Métro (Montréal), p. 16

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