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Archive for the ‘Entries #51-100’ Category

You’re probably already familiar with at least one of the meanings of d’abord in French: “first (off).”

Example:

D’abord je me lève, puis je me brosse les dents.

Informally, there’s another meaning of d’abord used in Quebec that you’ll want to learn.

At the end of a sentence, d’abord can often take on the meaning of “then.”

Example:

Tu sais que j’aime pas ça. Pourquoi tu fais ça d’abord?
You know that I don’t like that. Why do you do that then?

D’abord here is really just another way of saying alors.

[This entry was inspired by the character Fred in La Galère, season 2, episode 2, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 21 September 2009. Here, she said, “Why do you look sad then?” Can you now say this in French the way Fred might have said it?]

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Mimi from La Galère is an esthetician. In one scene, she offers to paint Fred’s nails. (Fred is a teenaged girl.)

To ask Fred if she’d like that, Mimi asks: Ça te tente-tu?, or “Would ya like that?”

The -tu after the verb in her question is an informal yes-no question word meaning the same thing as est-ce que. This informal question word belongs to relaxed speech.

Ça te tente-tu?
is an informal way of saying
Est-ce que ça te tente?

The subject in this question is ça, not -tu.

[This entry was inspired by the character Mimi in La Galère, season 2, episode 10, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 16 November 2009.]

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Imagine someone is talking behind someone else’s back and, in a moment of anger, they wanted to call that person a “bastard.” Jacques from La Galère gives an example of how you might hear this in French:

Le tabarnac, m’as l’étriper!
That bastard, I’m gonna rip his guts out!

[Said by the character Jacques in La Galère, season 2, episode 10, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 16 November 2009.]

Referring to someone as le tabarnac is vulgar in Quebec. In the example above, Jacques was talking behind someone’s back. The le in le tabarnac is like “that” or “the” in English: “that bastard!” or “the bastard!”

M’as from the example above sounds as though it were written . This is an informal contraction of je m’en vas, which itself is an informal pronunciation of je m’en vais — which simply means the same thing as je vais! The informal pronunciation m’as means “I’m gonna,” except it feels even more informal in French than in English.

M’as is usually felt to be a working-class pronunciation, but you may occasionally hear it in other informal contexts and social groups as well, like in a moment of anger.

I hate telling people what to do, really I do! But I will suggest you avoid using the pronunciation m’as yourself. Stick with je vais instead (example: je vais l’étriper).

It will be difficult for you to know in what social situations you could get away with a pronunciation like m’as without having spent a lot of time around French speakers. M’as suffers from the same lack of social prestige as “ain’t” in English. In short, avoid it yourself and just learn to understand it for the times when you may hear it.

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You’ve seen in a few other places on this blog that the French adjective fin can be used in Quebec to describe a person as being “nice.”

You’ll hear this frequently when people speak informally, so here’s some review.

Il est vraiment fin avec moi.
He’s really nice to me.

T’es pas fine avec moi.
You’re mean to me.

Similarly:

C’est vraiment fin!
That’s so kind!

[This entry was inspired by the character Stéphanie in La Galère, season 3, episode 9, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 15 November 2010. Here, she described a male character as being vraiment fin.]

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If you’ve spent time around French speakers from Quebec, there’s no surprise for you about one the most commonly heard swear words: tabarnac. When people say tabarnac in French, it’s similar to saying any one of the strong vulgarities used in English.

Tabarnac is also very frequently spelt tabarnak — probably even more so. The pronunciation of this swear word comes from tabernacle, a religious item for Catholics.

Remember: The swear word is always pronounced tabarnak, and the religious item tabernacle. Don’t say I didn’t tell you! 😉

[This entry was inspired by a male character in La Galère, season 2, episode 2, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 21 September 2009. Here, he muttered tabarnac under his breath during a difficult moment at the office.]

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A common way of saying that you’re fed up in French is with an expression that uses the masculine word voyage.

Example:

J’ai mon voyage!
I’m fed up! I’ve had it!

Now you understand the title of this children’s book in French!

[This entry was inspired by the character Isabelle in La Galère, season 2, episode 2, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 21 September 2009.]

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Here’s a fun adjective to learn in French: flyé. Anything that’s flyé in French is wild or far out. It’s pronounced like the English word “fly” + yé.

Examples:

Wow, c’est flyé ça!
Wow, that’s so wild!

C’est flyé ce que je vais te dire, mais…
What I’m gonna tell you is pretty “out there,” but…

Lots of different things can be flyé in French: ideas, the way someone’s dressed, or events. Anything that’s over the top might be called flyé.

Take a look at this cover image from the magazine L’actualité. Here, we see a person with tattoos, piercings and spiky hair.

Readers are asked: Trop « flyé » pour travailler?

[This entry was inspired by the character Louis in Les Parent, “Étude des moeurs,” season 1, episode 1, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 8 September 2008.]

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