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Wou-hou, check la madame, est toute énarvée!

Yes! Entry #800! I’m so excited!
J’suis tellement énervé!

Now there’s an expression that means the opposite of what you might expect…

In Québec, j’suis tellement énervé doesn’t have the negative meaning of “annoyed” or “irritated” like it does in France.

It has the positive meaning of “excited.”

Remember, je suis is very often pronounced informally as chu or chui.

I’ll use the spelling j’suis below to show these informal pronunciations.

J’suis tellement énervée, je tiens plus en place.
I’m so excited, I can’t keep still.

Je dors p’us, j’suis tellement énervé!
I can’t sleep anymore, I’m so excited! (P’us in informal pronunciation of the negative [ne] plus. It sounds like pu.)

Je capote, j’suis énervée, excitée…
I can’t calm down, I’m so excited…

J’suis toute énervée, là! J’ai plein de papillons!
I’m so excited! I’m all butterflies!

J’suis tellement énervé de partir.
I’m so excited to leave.

J’étais très énervé à l’idée de le rencontrer.
I was very excited at the idea of meeting him.

J’suis tellement énervée! J’me peux p’us! Maudit que j’ai hâte!
I’m so excited! I can’t take it anymore (can’t wait)! Damn I can’t wait!

In that last example above, j’me peux p’us is a contraction of je (ne) me peux plus and means essentially the same thing as j’ai hâte. The informal p’us sounds like pu.

You’ll remember that the Québécois pronounce â like “aww,” so hâte almost-sorta-kinda sounds like the English word “ought,” whereas in France hâte sounds more like the English word “at.”

J’ai hâte! J’me peux p’us!
I can’t wait! I can’t take it anymore!

J’me peux p’us… dans trois jours, je pars en vacances!
I can’t wait… in three days, I’m going on holiday!

Câline, j’me peux p’us, j’ai trop hâte de voir ça!
My goodness, I can’t take it anymore, I can’t wait to see it!

The expression je me peux plus can take on another sense: A woman asked online in a forum for pregnant mothers if she could take a quick dip in the pool on a hot day despite having a slightly detached placenta. Another woman responded with this advice for her on hot days:

Moi, j’ai toujours un pouche-pouche d’eau dans le réfrigérateur. Quand je me peux pus, je m’arrose de cette eau très froide et OH que ça fait du bien!

I always keep a spray bottle filled with water in the refrigerator. When I can’t take it anymore, I spray myself with the cold water and OH does it ever feel good!

Here, the idea behind je me peux plus is not being able to withstand any longer (and not “I can’t wait” like in the other examples).

Yes, un pouche-pouche is a spray bottle! Here, it’s used to talk about a spray bottle filled with water; it’s also used to talk about spray bottles filled with perfume. This funny term comes from the sound the spray bottle makes… pouche-pouche. 😀

And now I think this entry has officially gone off topic. We started with being excited and now we’re talking about… pouche-pouches!

P.S. Énarvé is a pronunciation variation of énervé. Pronouncing ar instead of er is more typically associated with older speakers (e.g., varte instead of verte). The exception to this is the ar sound in vulgar words, which can be heard in all age groups, like tabarnak, viarge, marde, as opposed to tabernacle, vierge, merde.

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Fuck you l'été [Jordan Dupuis]

Fuck you l’été [Jordan Dupuis]

In an Urbania article called Le monde selon J : Fuck you l’été published at the end of March, Jordan Dupuis describes his displeasure over the fact that winter was ending and that hot weather was on its way. He writes:

Bref, 99,9% des gens sont à boutte de l’hiver… mais pas moi.
In short, 99.9% of people are sick of winter… but not me.

être à boutte de l’hiver
to be sick of winter
to have had it with winter

As usual, this Urbania article is full of colloquial language similar to what you’ll hear in real conversations. If you haven’t checked Urbania out yet, I encourage you to do so.

Unlike the author himself, Jordan says that people can’t take the snow anymore:

Les gens sont officiellement pu’ capables d’endurer la neige […].
People are officially no longer able to stand the snow.

endurer quelque chose
to be able to stand something

les gens sont pu’ capables
people are no longer able

Maybe you’ll remember pu capab from yesterday’s entry devoted to the word marde as used in Québec.

Jordan explains the reasons he hates summer. One of them is that his summer clothes no longer fit after gaining weight throughout the winter. As he looks at his summer shirts spread out on his bed, he realises he should forget about wearing them and donate them instead. He says that he should sacrer ses chemises d’été dans un beau grand sac à vidanges, or “throw his summer shirts the hell out into a huge garbage bag.”

One of the other reasons he hates summer so much is that some people (but not him) seem to be devoid of sweat glands. He curses these “chosen ones” for not sweating a drop in their cream-coloured linen shirts:

Ces êtres élus et gâtés par la vie, même à 38 degrés et avec un facteur humidex à te faire friser le poil de la noune, ne transpirent pas une goutte de sueur dans leur chemise en lin couleur crème.

38 degrés
Americans, remember: 38 degrees is hot! Québec uses Celsius.

Le facteur humidex is the humidex factor. In Québec, we LOVE to talk about the humidex factor. The humidex factor is what the temperature feels like because of humidity. So, the actual temperature might be 38, but the humidex factor might make it feel more like 45.

But, oh my, what does faire friser le poil de la noune mean?

Do you remember the word plotte from a previous entry? It’s a vulgar word that refers to the female sex organ. Une noune is the same thing. Le poil de la noune, well, that’s the pubic hair surrounding it. Faire friser (quelque chose) means to make it curl.

à 38 degrés et avec un facteur humidex à te faire friser le poil de la noune

In other words, he curses those chosen ones who don’t sweat a drop even when the temperature is hot enough to make pubic hair curl.

I’ll let you discover the rest of his text on your own!

_ _ _

French quotes by Jordan Dupuis, «Le monde selon J : Fuck you l’été», Urbania, Montréal, 31 March 2014.

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Oh hello, good morning!

Well good morning to you too!

In Québec, you’ll hear merde (shit) pronounced as marde.

Today’s a shitty day. Not because it’s a bad day but because marde is our word for today. Here are 13 example sentences of how marde likes to be kept busy in Québec.

It keeps your enemies entertained.

1. Mange don d’la marde.
Eat shit.

2. Qu’y mangent don d’la marde.
They can eat shit.

It keeps crappy objets company…

3. Crisse d’ordi à marde!
Fucking shitty computer!

… as well as crappy people.

4. Osti d’chien sale à marde!
You fucking shitty asshole!

It pays visits to people in a pickle.

5. Chu dans marde.
I’m so screwed.

6. T’es dans marde, man.
You’re screwed, man.

Shitty idea? Shitty day? Hell, shitty life? Why not.

7. Non mais quelle idée d’marde.
What a shitty idea that is.

8. Bonne journée d’marde à toi!
Have a shitty day!

9. Maudite vie d’marde.
Goddamn shitty life.

People can be treated like it.

10. Y me traite comme d’la marde.
He treats me like shit.

11. Y me parle comme d’la marde.
He talks to me like shit.

It loves the stink…

12. Ouache, ça pue la marde!
Yuck, it smells like shit!

… and the wintertime.

13. Chu pu capab d’la marde blanche.
I can’t stand the snow (white shit) anymore.

***

What is don in the first two examples? It’s how donc is pronounced. I used the spelling don so that you wouldn’t be tempted to pronounce it as donk. But are you wondering why donc is even used in these examples to begin with? Don’t try to analyse it too much; you’ll often come across donc in declarations like these. It sounds better with it!

Do you remember to dzidzuate and tsitsuate? Maudzite journée d’marde. Crisse d’ordzi à marde. Ostsi d’chien sale à marde. If you forget to do your dz and ts, don’t worry — you’ll still be understood. If you can manage it though, it’ll sound a lot more authentic. If you use the offcois nouns le dzidzu and le tsitsu with your French prof, he’ll either worry that you know something he doesn’t or think you’ve gone batshit crazy.

Don’t forget that il and ils are most often pronounced as y (or i) when people speak colloquially. Y me traite comme d’la marde means the same thing as il me traite comme d’la marde. Remember too that je suis very often contracts to chu, and tu es becomes t’es.

In 13, chu pu capab means the same thing as je ne suis plus capable. There’s a lot of contraction going on here! Je suis became chu, plus became pu (also spelled informally as pus), and capable lost its le sound on the end.

Bonne journée d’marde à vous tous!
Have a shitty day everybody!

_ _ _

Related reading: Ma vie, c’est de la marde! (#803)

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Lisa LeBlanc

Lisa LeBlanc (click to go to her website)

In entry #795, we looked at the chorus of Lisa LeBlanc’s song Câlisse-moi là. One thing we didn’t look at is her use of the word so.

Listen again (video below). A few times, you’ll hear her sing so câlisse-moi là. That so means exactly what you think it does; it means “so” and obviously comes from English.

Some francophones in Canada say so in French. Lisa LeBlanc is from the province of New Brunswick, and so is used in her variety of French.

Some francophones in the province of Ontario also say so in French. In Ontario, the farther away you get from Québec, the more likely you are to hear so. The closer you are to Québec, the more likely you are to hear faque instead.

That’s because, you’ll remember, the Québécois say faque. If Lisa LeBlanc were from Montréal, she’d have sung faque câlisse-moi là instead, or even better faque câlisse-moé là because this is trash folk.

Faque is a contraction of ça fait que. Sometimes you’ll hear it pronounced with two syllables like fa–que, other times with one syllable like fak.

If Lisa LeBlanc had used faque in her chorus, she’d have certainly sung it with one syllable. Listen to the song again, and try replacing so with faque while you sing along.

But once you’ve tried it, go back to singing so câlisse-moi là. Lisa LeBlanc’s French is so delicious that we don’t want to change her lyrics and make them all, you know, standard or something by saying faque câlisse-moé là

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Je tripe fort sur les orignaux de jardin!

Je tripe fort sur les orignaux de jardin!

Review time!

Here are 51 example sentences to file away in the folder marked Québécois French in your head. Note: Some of these sentences are for a mature audience only and blah blah blah, this is OffQc.

Credit where credit is due — a very large number of these example sentences are heavily inspired by Maude Schiltz and the colloquial language found in her book Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer (tome 1).

I’ve included notes where I thought it would be helpful.

All of these example sentences feel like the sort of things you could say in everyday language situations with people you know well. These are not examples of formal language.

There’s an exception though, and that’s number 33. This example sentence isn’t strictly informal.

Are you getting excited? I am! We’re only a few posts away from #800, which means post #1000 will soon be poking its head on the horizon!

1. Je tripe fort sur les orignaux de jardin!
I’m totally crazy about garden moose!

Or should that be “garden meese”?
The singular of orignaux is orignal.

2. Y a été assez poche avec moi.
He was pretty bad to me.

Y a is an informal way of saying il a.
Y a sounds like yâ.

3. Là, ça va faire!
OK, that’s enough!
Right, enough is enough!

means “now,” but “now” doesn’t sound right in the translation here.

4. J’ai pris mes cliques pis mes claques.
I grabbed all my stuff.

Pis is pronounced pi.
Pis means “and” here.
You can use this expression when getting all your stuff together to move out quickly or when you’re being kicked out, for example.

5. J’ai sacré mon camp.
I got the hell outta there.

Camp is pronounced like quand.

6. Je commence à badtriper là-dessus.
I’m starting to freak out about it.

Badtriper is pronounced bade-tripé.
Use badtriper to talk about freaking out in a bad way (stress, worry, etc.).

7. C’t’une joke, capote pas!
I’m just kidding, calm down!

C’t’une is an informal pronunciation of c’est une.
C’t’une sounds like stune.
Use capoter to talk about losing one’s calm.

8. Je tripe là-dessus solide.
I’m totally crazy about it.

9. Chu down depuis hier.
I feel down since yesterday.

Chu is an informal pronunciation of je suis.
Down
is pronounced like its English equivalent.

10. Y mérite que je le câlisse là.
He deserves for me to fuckin’ dump him.

Y is an informal pronunciation of il.

11. Chu sorti avec ma gang de bureau.
I went out with my group from the office.

Chu is an informal pronunciation of je suis.
Gang
sounds like its English equivalent.

12. C’est ben correct si t’aimes pas ça.
It’s perfectly fine if you don’t like it.

Correct is pronounced informally as correc.

13. On s’est quitté sur une note poche.
We left each other on a bad note.

14. J’ai pogné mon chum à cruiser des filles.
I caught my boyfriend going after girls.

Cruiser is pronounced crouzé.

15. Ça, c’est le boutte le fun!
That’s the fun part!

Boutte is an informal pronunciation of bout.

16. Je file tout croche.
I feel bad. I don’t feel well.

17. J’ai pété une sale coche.
I lost my temper big time.

Péter is pronounced pèté.

18. J’ai tripé en crisse.
I had a hell of a great time.

19. Je trouve que c’est de la bullshit.
I think that’s bullshit.

Bullshit is pronounced boulechitte.

20. Y pogne avec les filles.
He’s lucky with girls. Girls find him hot.

Y is an informal pronunciation of il.

21. Le timing a pas été bon.
The timing wasn’t good.

22. J’ai de la misère à le croire.
I’m having a hard time believing him.

23. J’ai fait freaker tout le monde.
I freaked everybody out.

Freaker is pronounced friquer.

24. J’ai pogné un down.
I’m feeling really down.

Down is pronounced like its English equivalent.

25. T’es vraiment magané ce matin.
You’re in really rough shape this morning.

T’es is an informal contraction of tu es.
T’es
sounds like té.

26. J’ai la chienne de me faire mal.
I’m terrified of getting hurt.

27. Y est carrément épeurant, ce gars-là.
He’s downright scary, that guy.

Y est is an informal pronunciation of il est.
Y est sounds like yé.
Carrément is pronounced cârrément.
Gars is pronounced gâ.

28. T’es cheap en maudit, toi!
You’re so damn cheap!

T’es is an informal contraction of tu es.
T’es
sounds like té.
Cheap here is used in the sense of not liking to spend money.

29. Tu te fais bullshitter solide.
You’re getting played solid, lied to big time.
He (she, they, etc.) is totally bullshitting you.

Bullshitter is pronounced boulechitté.

30. Je file cheap en maudit.
I feel so damn bad.

Cheap sounds like its English equivalent.
Cheap here is used in the sense of feeling like a low-life.

31. C’est pour le fun!
It’s just for fun!

32. Chu raqué et j’ai mal à la gorge.
I’m sore all over and I have a sore throat.

Chu is an informal pronunciation je suis.

33. Le brigadier scolaire a fait traverser des écoliers.
The crossing guard helped some schoolchildren to cross.

34. Le français québécois, c’est tripant!
Québécois French is such a blast!

35. On m’a booké un rendez-vous.
They booked me an appointment.

Booker is pronounced bouké.

36. Y a pogné le creux de la vague.
He’s down in the dumps.

Y a is an informal pronunciation of il a.
Y a sounds like yâ.

37. Arrête de m’écoeurer avec ça.
Stop nagging me about that.
Stop driving me nuts about that.

38. La semaine s’annonce rough.
Looks like a rough week ahead.

Rough is pronounced roffe.

39. T’es full pas de classe, toi.
You’re so unclassy.

T’es is an informal contraction of tu es.
T’es
sounds like té.
Full sounds like foule.

40. Je file pas ben pantoute.
I don’t feel good at all.

41. Shit, tu viens de passer sur la rouge!
Shit, you just went through a red (light)!

Sur la is often pronounced informally as s’a.

42. Peux-tu checker ça avec ton patron?
Can you check that with your boss?

Checker sounds like the English word “check” followed by é.

43. Es-tu game de faire ça demain?
Are you up for doing it tomorrow?

Game sounds like its English equivalent.

44. T’es aussi ben de l’appeler aujourd’hui.
You better call him today.

T’es is an informal contraction of tu es.
T’es
sounds like té.

45. Crisse-moi patience!
Leave me the hell alone!

46. Ces produits sont pleins de chnoute.
These products are full of crap.

47. Le médecin m’a gelé ben comme faut.
The doctor drugged me up good.

Ben comme faut is an informal way of saying bien comme il faut.

48. Chu vraiment tanné d’entendre ça.
I’m really sick of hearing that.

Chu is an informal pronunciation je suis.

49. Des livres, j’en ai un char pis une barge.
I’ve got heaps and heaps of books.

Pis is pronounced pi.
Pis means “and” here.

50. C’est un crisse de gros cave.
He’s a huge goddamn idiot.

Don’t mistakenly pronounce cave like an English word.
Cave is a French word and rhymes with bave.

51. On l’a pogné à se crosser sur la job.
They caught him jerking off on the job.

Sur la is often pronounced informally as s’a.

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In this entry, we’ll look at an expression using the verb câlisser, as well as all kinds of other vocabulary essential to know when speaking with francophones from Québec.

Câlisse-moi là, vas-y jusqu’au boutte

Acadian singer Lisa LeBlanc uses the words câlisse-moi là in the chorus of her song of the same name. But what does this mean?

Câlisse-moi là
Vas-y jusqu’au boutte
Finis-moi ça
Pis câlisse-moi là
J’te bette que t’es pas game
Trop peureux d’voir que
J’aimerais peut-être ça

Fucking dump me
Go all the way
Just end it already
And fucking dump me
I bet you won’t do it
[You’re] too scared to see
That I might like it

[Lisa LeBlanc, Câlisse-moi là]

The verb câlisser can be used in the sense of to “dump” someone, especially a person someone was involved with romantically. But because câlisser is a swear word, “dump” needs to be made more vulgar: we can add in “fucking” and say that câlisse-moi là means “fucking dump me.”

Lisa LeBlanc is telling the guy to end their relationship and to just fucking dump her. She doesn’t think he’s got the guts to do it though: j’te bette que t’es pas game. I bet you that you’re not game [I bet you won’t do it].

Vas-y jusqu’au boutte means the same thing as vas-y jusqu’au bout.

Lisa LeBlanc was born in New Brunswick, in 1990. New Brunswick is a province in eastern Canada and is called le Nouveau-Brunswick in French. The French spoken there is not quite the same as the French spoken in most of Québec, but it of course shares some similarities as well.

Lisa LeBlanc’s musical genre is trash folk.

C’est fini, je le câlisse là

In Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer (tome 1), author Maude Schiltz uses the same expression as Lisa LeBlanc did in her song.

Maude decides that she no longer wants to see a certain health professional at the hospital where she’s being treated for cancer; she’s lost all faith in him. In an email, she tells her friends:

Y a été assez poche avec moi, c’est fini, je le câlisse là.
He was pretty bad with me, it’s over, I’m fucking ditching him.

[Maude Schiltz, Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer (tome 1), Éditions de Mortagne, Boucherville (Québec), 2013, p. 212.]

Je l’ai câlissé là

In a short story published online called I’ve got you by Louis-Martin Deslandes, one paragraph reads:

Non! Ça va pas. Je l’ai quitté… Je suis partie ce matin, j’en ai eu assez! J’ai pris mes cliques pis mes claques, pis j’ai sacré mon camp. Comme tu dirais : je l’ai câlissé là! J’en avais assez fait de sacrifices, bon! Là, ça va faire! Un moment donné, une fille se tanne.

No! I’m not okay. I left him… I left this morning, I’d had enough! I grabbed all my stuff and got the hell outta there. As you’d say: I fuckin’ dumped him. I’d made enough sacrifices! Enough is enough! At some point, a girl’s gonna get fed up.

[Martin-Louis Deslandes, I’ve got you, consulted online 18 May 2014.]

prendre ses cliques pis ses claques, to grab all one’s stuff, to get all one’s shit together (with the intention of leaving)
sacrer son camp, to get the hell outta there
je l’ai câlissé là, I fuckin’ dumped him
là, ça va faire, enough is enough
(à) un moment donné, at some point
une fille se tanne, a girl gets fed up

Il mérite que je le câlisse là

I’ll leave you with this longer and very instructive example taken from a Facebook posting. In it, a woman writes about her chum who’s been cheating on her through Facebook.

Not only does she use the same expression containing the verb câlisser, she uses a lot of vocabulary that I’m sure you’ll be very interested in learning. I’ve provided a translation into English and a word list of the vocabulary you might be unfamiliar with.

The original version contained spelling and agreement errors. I’ve corrected the errors so that you can use the French version below to learn from, rather than the original on Facebook. Do take the time to read this; it’s full of vocab that you’ll find very good to know.

J’ai pogné mon chum à cruiser des filles assez clairement sur Facebook. Quand je dis clairement, je veux dire que ses intentions sont évidentes. Il se cherche une baise. C’est pas qu’il en manque à la maison en plus. Une des filles était une de ses ex. Il a eu droit à une sale coche évidemment. Il me dit qu’il la teste. C’est pour le fun pour voir ce qu’elle va dire.

Personnellement, je trouve que c’est de la bullshit et il mérite que je le câlisse là avec un coup de pied dans le cul, MAIS c’est compliqué; on a un enfant. La garde partagée m’enchante pas trop. Il dort à mes côtés à tous les soirs. Il sort rarement et, quand je travaille, il est avec notre enfant. Donc, je vois pas quand il aurait le temps de me tromper. J’y ai clairement expliqué que s’il tient à son couple, qu’il a intérêt à arrêter ses conneries. Mais je l’ai encore pogné hier.

Je sais pas quoi faire. Est-ce que je devrais parler à la fille??? Savoir ce qui se passe vraiment??? Ou s’il m’a trompée? Il dit que c’est une fille avec qui il a travaillé et qu’il voulait aller prendre une bière avec de même. J’ai de la misère à le croire. Je pense que je me fais bullshitter solide…

I caught my guy going pretty obviously after girls on Facebook. When I say obviously, I mean his intentions are easy to figure out. He’s looking for a fuck. And it’s not as if he’s not getting any at home either. One of the girls was his ex. Obviously I totally lost it on him. He says he’s just testing her, and that it’s just for fun to see what she’ll say.

Personally, I think that’s bullshit and he deserves for me to just fucking kick his ass to the curb, BUT it’s complicated; we’ve got a child together. Joint custody doesn’t sound appealing to me. He sleeps next to me every night. He rarely goes out and, when I’m working, he’s with our child. So, I don’t see when he’d have the time to cheat on me. I told him straight out that if he cares about the relationship, he better stop his bullshit. But I caught him again yesterday.

I don’t know what to do. Should I talk to the girl??? Find out what’s really going on??? Or if he cheated on me? He says he used to work with the girl and that he just wanted to go out for a beer with her. I have a hard time believing him. I think he’s totally bullshitting me…

pogner mon chum, to catch my guy
cruiser des filles, to try to pick up girls [pronounced crouzer]
se chercher une baise, to go looking for a fuck
péter une coche, to flip out in anger [pronounced pèter]
péter une sale coche, to flip out in anger big time
une sale coche, a nasty display of anger
c’est pour le fun, it’s for fun
c’est de la bullshit, that’s bullshit [pronounced boulechitte]
que je le câlisse là, that I just fucking end it with him, ditch him
un coup de pied dans le cul, a kick in the ass
la garde partagée, joint custody
tromper quelqu’un, to cheat on someone
tenir à son couple, to care about one’s relationship
arrêter ses conneries, to stop one’s bullshit
aller prendre une bière avec, to go for a beer with her [elle is understood]
de même, like that, just like that
avoir de la misère à faire, to have a hard time doing
bullshitter quelqu’un, to bullshit someone (to lie to someone)
se faire bullshitter solide, to have someone totally bullshit you

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I’d always wanted to write about this but felt it was too off-topic for OffQc. I’ve since changed my mind. Considering that there are in fact a good number of francophones who read OffQc, I think this blog is as good a place as any for it.

If you read comments online in news articles related to language in Montréal, you’ll often come across ones where the author says he won’t return to a certain business because he wasn’t served in French. The idea is that if you don’t speak French, you’ll be punished by no longer getting that francophone customer’s business.

Sure, I know it probably feels really good to punish people who don’t speak French by hitting them where it counts ($$$), but does this strategy work in getting people to become francophone?

I suspect it doesn’t work. I don’t have any evidence to offer other than common sense and an anecdote, so feel free to comment.

When I say common sense, what I mean is this: if all francophones decided to no longer return to a business where the employees are unable to speak French, then that business will have zero French-speaking clientele. In this case, where is the incentive to learn French? If no francophones come into the business, there’s no need for it.

On the contrary, imagine a scenario where 99% of customers to a business are francophone. That business has a very strong incentive to learn French and serve their customers in this language.

We might feel like we’re being proactive by punishing, but I feel this ultimately does nothing to promote French. It may seem counterintuitive, but what I feel we need to do to promote French in this situation is the complete opposite of refusing to frequent these businesses — go there, spend your money, and demonstrate that learning French is beneficial.

And an anecdote:

I remember an employee in a fast-food Vietnamese restaurant in Montréal who was unable to serve customers in French. I will admit that my first reaction was “wow, what nerve.” But instead of storming off, I smiled and spoke very basic French to her. When she didn’t understand, I said it in English. I also said simple words like bonjour, merci and s’il vous plaît.

When I returned a few weeks later, I was surprised when she remembered me. She did her best to say whatever French words she could, and then said the rest in English.

I returned yet again a few months later. I don’t know if she remembered me at this point, but what amazed me was that she served me entirely in French. She stumbled a little when she said the price in French, but she had essentially learned to serve in French.

Yes, it takes patience to do this. It’s easier to punish and may even feel good too. But as a long-term strategy, I believe punishing is worthless. What if we were all just a little more patient, smiled just a little more often, and made newcomers feel just a little more welcome here?

What would have happened if francophones to that restaurant had always impatiently switched to English instead of using simple French? Worse, what would have happened if francophones had simply stopped going to that restaurant altogether?

I don’t know about you, but I have no desire whatsoever to communicate with angry, aggressive people. If I didn’t already speak their language, then I’d have no desire to learn it. It’s so much easier to draw people towards French when we’re patient, friendly and charismatic.

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