Archive for the ‘Entries #451-500’ Category

In the summer months, representatives from different charities take the streets of downtown Montreal by storm.

These representatives can be found on many street corners, looking for people interested in their cause. Some passers-by stop to talk to them, while others avoid them and just keep on walking.

While walking down Sainte-Catherine Street, a group of three people in their 20s walked ahead of me — two guys and a girl. A representative from a charity approached the girl, and she stopped unwillingly to speak to him.

Her two friends kept on walking, leaving her behind. They laughed at how she got “stuck” speaking to the representative.

Frustrated that her friends had left her behind (and eager to free herself of the representative), she called out to her friends to not leave her alone. That’s when the representative himself encouraged her two male friends to come back by saying:

Venez-vous-en, les boys!
Come here, guys!

They kept their distance though, and they let their friend get out of the conversation on her own…

come here!

And the opposite:

go away!

Remember, there’s a liaison between vous and en, so the vous forms sound like this:

venez vou zen
allez vou zen

The representative also used the informal les boys to call out to the guys. The s in boys is pronounced z, just like in English.

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I was intrigued to find this example of the word raque (see photo), a word belonging to the informal, spoken level of Quebec French, but usually spelled rack.

This sign informs us that everything on the rack is on sale for $69. The word raque here refers to the rack that the shirts are hanging on. The use of rack in French (or raque as we see it here) is a borrowing from the English “rack.”

If you watched the Pure laine clip from entry #493, you might have caught another example of rack in use. The young Ming says rack à t-shirts when speaking to the store employee. Similarly, you might also hear rack à velos in the spoken language.

The use of rack in French surely ruffles the feathers of language purists. It’s not the sort of word you’ll find in professionally created advertising.

The fact that this word managed to find its way onto the sign here isn’t what intrigues me, however. This is just a simple sign created by an employee for that single rack of shirts.

What I find interesting about the use of raque in this photo is the French spelling applied to it (raque instead of rack).

Was a French spelling used because the word is simply felt to be French by the person who made the sign?

Or was this maybe the writer’s attempt to render the word more French for the purpose of a sign, unsure if the original English spelling was acceptable?

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In this comical clip from a TV show called Pure laine, a French teacher suffers from an inferiority complex about the way French is spoken in Quebec.

In this clip, she’s teaching French to adult newcomers. But she goes horribly overboard with the vocabulary she expects them to use. She insists that the verb for “to eat” isn’t manger but se sustenter!

She even goes so far as to use the obscure word gaminet for “t-shirt” when shopping in a store. (In reality, the French word in use is simply t-shirt.) This results in the shop employee supposedly believing that she’s not Québécoise at all but a foreigner. At least the young Ming gets it right!

A Haitian friend gives her a bit of advice regarding French and becoming Québécois, which she over-zealously adopts in class by teaching her students how to swear using câlice

A bit of help: Untel, c’t’un câlice. (Untel, c’est un câlice. So-and-so is a son-of-a-bitch.) M’as te câlisser mon poing su’a yeule. (Je vais te câlisser mon poing sur la gueule. I’m gonna punch your goddamn lights out.) Je m’en câlisse. (I don’t give a fuck.)

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It’s important to remember that il y a is very often pronounced y’a when French is spoken informally.

Although y’a isn’t used nearly as much in writing as it is in the spoken language, you can still sometimes find examples of it in advertising. This gives a more informal feel to the wording.

In the ad above from the café Second Cup (click on it to see a larger version), the slogan reads:

Y’a un peu d’amour dans chaque tasse.

This is an informal way of saying il y a un peu d’amour dans chaque tasse. (There’s a bit of love in every cup.)

In entry #491, you saw some ads for a zoo. The slogan used on these ads is:

Y’a pas plus animal!

This is an informal way of saying il n’y a pas plus animal! (Can’t get any wilder!)

y’a = il y a
y’a pas = il n’y a pas

There are lots of spoken examples of this informal pronunciation in entry #481, where Vincent Vallières speaks about the Fête nationale.

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Check out these ads from the Zoo de Granby. The photos were taken in the Montreal metro system. The ways of describing these animals are usually used for people: tête en l’air, tête dure, baveux, flasheux, p’tit clown!

Tête en l’air! (= Scatterbrain!)

Tête dure! (= Hard head!)

Baveux! (= Cheeky!)

Flasheux! (= Flashy!)

P’tit clown! (= Lil’ clown!)

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