Archive for the ‘Entries #401-450’ Category

On tou.tv, you might like to check out a suspense that’s currently available called Apparences. The language below related to the québécois swear word crisse comes from this show.

It’s not easy to translate swear words. You’ll forgive me if it seems like I can’t make up my mind in the translations, but I think you’ll get the idea.

A female character has learned that her sister is missing. At one point, she loses her calm when talking to another character and says:

Ma sœur est disparue, crisse!
My sister’s missing, goddamn it!

In another scene, a female character throws a lover out of her house while yelling at him:

Décrisse! Tu crisses ton camp!
Just get the hell out! You get the fuck out!

Careful how you pronounce camp in French — it sounds like quand. The verb used here is décrisser, and the expression is crisser son camp.

A third example — a character says that he hasn’t got a fucking cent (i.e., that he’s got no money whatsoever):

J’ai pas une crisse de cenne.
I don’t have a fuckin’ cent, a goddamn cent.

I’ve only checked out a few episodes of this show so far. But from what I’ve seen, the French in it is conversational and the show might interest you if you like suspense.

[First quote: Apparences, season 1, episode 1, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 10 January 2012. Second and third quotes: Apparences, season 1, episode 3, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 24 January 2012.]

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On peut-tu… (#442)

Karine, a social worker (une travailleuse sociale or une TS) in 30 vies asks Louis-Vincent, a student, if they can talk alone:

On peut-tu parler tout seuls deux minutes?

Here, on peut-tu is an informal way of asking “can we…?”

On peut-tu (…)?
= Est-ce qu’on peut (…)?

Remember that you can always use est-ce que to ask yes-no questions, even during informal conversations. Even though you can hear yes-no questions asked with -tu, you’ll also hear them asked with est-ce que, of course.

[Quote from 30 vies, season 2, episode 92, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 1 March 2012.]

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In a scene from 30 vies, François tells a colleague to not give up:

Lâche pas.

In another scene, a mother accuses her husband of letting their son ruin his life:

Tu vas le laisser gâcher sa vie!

Both lâcher and gâcher contain the â sound, which sounds like “aww.”

Caroline asks Vincent where he was:

T’étais où, toi?

Then, during a discussion with him, she uses the verb tenter to say that she didn’t want to do something:

Ça m’tentait vraiment pas.

For example, if someone asked you why you didn’t show up somewhere, you could say informally ça m’tentait vraiment pas, “I really didn’t want to.” Ça m’ is a spoken contraction of ça me. It sounds like çam.

[Quotes from 30 vies, season 2, episode 89, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 27 February 2012.]

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These four informal French pronunciations come from an episode of the TV show Les Parent.

  • t’auras. You’ve seen before on this blog that tu as often contracts to t’as informally. Similarly, you’ll also hear tu auras contract to t’auras. You’ll also hear t’avais (tu avais) and t’aurais (tu aurais).
  • j’les veux. Zak is looking at a pair of glasses online. He tells his father that he wants them. Instead of saying je les veux, he pronounced this informally as j’les veux. The vowel sound of je dropped.
  • j’es aime. This was also said by Zak while talking about the glasses — he tells his father that he likes them. In j’les veux above, only je loses a letter. But in j’es aime, je loses its e and les loses its l. Of course, he could also have said this informally as j’les aime, just like j’les veux.
  • y’a rien. This is an informal pronunciation of il n’y a rien. You’ve seen before that il n’y a pas can be pronounced informally as y’a pas. The contraction of il n’y a to y’a can happen before rien too.

[This entry was inspired by Les Parent, “Accident de parcours,” season 4, episode 16, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 13 February 2012.]

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If you’re still having trouble understanding spoken French, it probably comes down to two things: a need to increase your vocabulary and a (great) need for more listening practice.

As you’re learning new vocabulary, try not to fall into the trap of wanting to concentrate only on vocabulary unique to Quebec French. If you listen to a regular conversation, you’ll notice that the amount of vocabulary unique to Quebec is probably quite small overall.

Yes, Quebec French has vocabulary unique to it, and it has its own accent. But when I come across a learner struggling to understand French, it’s very often not with the parts of it that are unique to Quebec French but with French in general.

This is why so much of what’s on this blog isn’t necessarily French that’s unique to Quebec, but conversational French in general.

Increase your vocabulary through exposure to French. I’ll never be able to stress enough how important it is to get a lot of listening exposure. The best way of course is to listen and take part in real conversations (if you can do this every day, you’ll make very fast progress), but TV, radio and Internet are good too.

If you have a choice between studying grammar for one hour, studying a vocabulary list for one hour, or listening to one hour of French, I will always say listen to one hour of French. By listening, you will review and learn new grammar and vocabulary without having to dwell on it intentionally, and you’ll train your brain to listen and understand.

If you really want to study grammar every once in a while, then do it. If you’re in love with vocabulary lists, then do it. I don’t feel that either of these things work, but you’re in charge. Just be sure to max out your listening time!

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The next time that you’re listening to a French dialogue on the TV, radio or Internet, try this:

Take note of all the questions that are asked. You can even write some of them down if you like. Pay attention to the word order, intonation of the voice, and any contractions that are used in the questions. Take note also of who is speaking, and who that person is speaking to.

Asking questions naturally and spontaneously in French can be a weak point for learners. (If you’re not talking to people regularly enough, how will you practise asking questions?) Improving how you ask questions in French will make a big difference to the flow of your conversations.

To start, why not try this every day for one week? If you feel that it helps you to ask questions better in French, continue with it.

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In a scene from the TV show Les Parent, Natalie reminds her youngest son that she often tells him and his brothers to tidy up and to pick up after themselves:

… ce que je vous dis souvent aussi c’est de ranger pis de vous ramasser.
… what I often also tell you is to tidy up and to pick up after yourselves.

You read another example of the French verb ramasser in a short dialogue from the series 30 vies.

In the quote above are the words ce que. As you’re listening to French, notice how ce que is pronounced. Pay attention also to ce qui. You’ll notice that ce often loses its vowel sound: c’que, c’qui.

Remember, pis is an informal pronunciation of puis. Here, it just means “and.” Pis is not used in careful writing. You’ll usually only come across it in informal speech.

[Quote from Les Parent, “Question existentielle,” season 4, episode 18, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 27 February 2012.]

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