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Archive for the ‘Entries #751-800’ Category

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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Is Québécois French more difficult than other varieties of French?

Is Québécois French more difficult than other varieties of French?

Maybe no and maybe so.

By maybe no,
I mean that learning Québécois French is inherently probably just as easy or just as difficult as learning any other variety of French. I’m sure this point can be argued — maybe you’ll disagree by saying that spoken Québécois French has more colloquial contractions than other varieties of French. This may be true, but the good thing is that contractions can be learned.

You can learn that sur la often contracts informally to s’a in colloquial Québecois French in the same way that de le contracts to du in all varieties of French. The finer points of the pronunciation of Québécois French may also make it more difficult for some people than other varieties, but I don’t think I’d qualify the differences as exceptionally more difficult.

I can accept that Québécois French may be inherently somewhat more difficult, but not to the extremes people sometimes suggest. If you’re enthusiastic about learning the French of Québec, you’ll probably find the mechanics of it more or less equally challenging or equally breezy as any other variety of French.

By maybe so,
I mean that the Québécois make learning French more difficult than it has to be. What I write here may sting, but I believe it to be the truth. If Québécois French feels much more difficult to learn than other varieties of French, the Québécois themselves play a role in this.

A learner of French once asked me if the French (the ones from France) and their refusal to accept the validity of other varieties of French were to blame for the absence of good quality learning materials for Québécois French.

No, I’m afraid the French have nothing to do with it. It would be convenient to place the blame on the French, wouldn’t it? But the Québécois are free to publish whatever they like without having to consult with the French first.

I’m sure there are different reasons for the lack of good quality learning materials for colloquial Québécois French — publishers may not consider it lucrative, for example, to produce materials for a smaller variety of French (Québécois) than for a much larger variety (so-called international French).

Then there is the resistance to teaching what some Québécois themselves consider to be an inferior form of French. The colloquial register (or level) of Québécois French is what the Québécois use when they speak amongst themselves, but many Québécois are reluctant when it comes to explicitly teaching that register of French to non-francophones.

In French courses in Québec, the colloquial register of Québécois French is generally not taught to non-francophones. Students are taught the standard form of Québécois French (the register used in the media, for example). It is of course essential that students be taught this register of French, but equally essential — and probably much more immediately practical — would be to teach colloquial Québécois French, words like pogner and niaiser, and how the Québécois ask yes-no questions with tu, immediately come to mind.

As a learner of French and more specifically Québécois French, you are not a helpless bystander. When learning Québécois French, the best thing you can do for yourself is to cultivate persistence. Continue to speak French when the opportunities arise, work on improving your listening skills, model your spoken French on that of the Québécois, and refuse to let certain people convince you there’s something wrong with what you’re working towards.

You may have had to deal with a teacher who disapproves of Québécois French, a commenter online who’s “warned” you against learning Québécois French because it’s “too different,” a speaker of another variety of French who believes Québécois French to sound rural or, sadly, a Québécois person who believes foreigners should not speak like the Québécois. Listen to what they have to say, then move on. There are many Québécois who will support you in your choice to speak Québécois French. Don’t let the ones who try to stand in your way stand in your way. If I did that whenever I heard a negative comment, there’d be no OffQc.

Back to the original question — is Québécois French more difficult than other varieties of French? Probably. But I’ll end with this:

If you learn to understand and speak like the Québécois, you’ll have stood up to many challenges, such as a lack of learning materials, people who’ll try to steer you off course, and bilingual francophones who’ll switch to English on you. Someone who learns Québécois French has learned a lot more than “just” French along the way — patience, persistence and staying on course despite the challenges, to name a few.

Isn’t that impressive?

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passage pour piétons

passage pour piétons

Not all intersections in Montréal have them, but the white strips in the image above indicate where pedestrians should cross the street.

In Québec, the white strips, or lignes blanches, make up what is known as un passage pour piétons. The strips may also be yellow.

un piéton
une piétonne
a pedestrian

un passage pour piétons
a crosswalk

Pour traverser la rue, j’ai utilisé le passage pour piétons.
I used the crosswalk to cross the street.

brigadier scolaire

brigadier scolaire

At intersections near schools, there is often a person who ensures schoolchildren cross the street safely.

If this person is male, the name for him is un brigadier scolaire. If the person is female, she’s called une brigadière scolaire.

une intersection
an intersection

un brigadier scolaire
une brigadière scolaire
a crossing guard

un écolier
une écolière
a schoolchild

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

Traffic lights are known by two words in Québec: les feux and les lumières.

The first word, feux, is the standard usage in Québec. The second word, lumières, is the way you’ll often hear it said colloquially.

flèches vertes

flèches vertes

A green light may in fact be a green arrow, une flèche verte.

Here are some French examples related to traffic lights, using a mix of the words feu and lumière. Remember, lumière is an informal usage.

La lumière est jaune. The light is yellow.
Le feu a tourné au vert. The light turned green.
J’ai brûlé un feu rouge. I went through a red light.

Shit, tu viens de passer sur la rouge!
Shit, you just went through a red!
Colloquially, sur la rouge may sound like s’a rouge.

Le conducteur a tourné sur la lumière rouge.
The driver turned on the red light.

À Montréal, il est interdit de tourner à droite quand la lumière est rouge.
In Montréal, turning right when the light is red is not allowed.

Some out-of-province visitors to Montréal don’t realise that it’s not permitted to turn right on a red light. This is true for the entire island of Montréal. Yes, Montréal is on an island — that’s something else some visitors don’t realise!

It’s always kind of amusing when visitors from the US honk at a car waiting at a red light in an attempt to get them to turn right…

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Un gros bec sur le front

gros bec sur le front

Just when you thought you’d already see it all, along come 7 new words used in Québec appearing on OffQc for the very first time! (Or at least I think it’s the first time; even I can’t keep track of what’s on OffQc anymore.)

The French in this entry comes from Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer (tome 1), written by Maude Schiltz. If you’re reading this, Maude, I think I’m gonna have to rename this blog Ah shit, je parle québécois! Thanks for the great examples, as always.

Here are the 7 words, which we’ll look at in more detail below:

1. boules, boobs
2. fitter, to fit
3. chnoute, shit
4. down, down (duh!)
5. booker, to book
6. raqué, worn out, sore
7. bec, kiss

In her book, Maude lists the leading causes of breast cancer, like heredity, being overweight, smoking, stress, alcohol, etc. She explains that she doesn’t fit the typical profile (most of the causes don’t apply to her), but she developed breast cancer nonetheless. She says: Je ne fitte pas dans les statistiques. La morale dans tout ça? Si vous ne fittez pas non plus, checkez-vous les boules pareil. I don’t fit the statistics. Moral of the story? If you don’t fit the statistics either, check your boobs anyway.

Boules is a feminine word. The English word “tits” seems too vulgar a translation for boules (or at least here, it does), and “breasts” doesn’t convey the informality of the word; “boobs” seems like the best way to render boules in English.

Maude reminds us of the importance of eating well, not smoking, and avoiding the sun and products like cheap perfumes that are pleins de parabènes en particulier et de chnoute en général, full of parabens in particular and crap in general. If you heard someone say c’est de la chnoute when talking about a product, the person is saying that it’s crap, shitty, a piece of junk, etc.

At one point, Maude tells us that her chum was having a hard time accepting her cancer and that he was feeling down. She says: Chrystian a pogné le creux de la vague. Chrystian’s feeling really down. It’s a longer, more descriptive way of saying être down, which Maude also uses in her book. We can probably liken the French expression pogner le creux de la vague to the English expression “to be down in the dumps.”

Maude explains that she and her chum never feel down at the same time though, which is a good thing: La bonne chose, c’est qu’on n’est jamais down en même temps, alors il y en a toujours un pour essayer de remonter l’autre, tout n’est pas perdu. The good thing is that we’re never down at the same time, so there’s always one of us to help pick the other back up; all’s not lost. A similar expression is pogner un down, for example: Moi, chui méga frue et j’ai pogné un down. I’m frustrated big time and I’m down in the dumps. Fru and frue are informal shortforms of frustré, frustrée.

When Maude had to cancel her appointment with her tattoo artist for health reasons, she was very saddended by it. She tells the tattooist to give her appointment to someone else: J’ai eu beaucoup, mais beaucoup de peine en disant au tatoueur de laisser tomber et de booker quelqu’un d’autre à ma place. I was very, and I mean very upset when I told the tattooist to forget it and book someone else instead. Booker is pronounced bouker.

Maude’s happy to learn later on though that her doctor says she can indeed get a tattoo done. She manages to land a last-minute appointment: Les tatoueurs de chez Imago m’ont fait une place à la dernière minute pour demain, eux qui sont bookés tellement d’avance. The tattooers at Imago, who are always booked so far in advance, booked me in at the last minute for tomorrow. Maude uses the verb booker yet again when she talks about how her schedule fills up quickly every day: Mon temps se booke vite. My time fills up fast.

You know how you feel after a strenuous workout? You can describe that worn-out and aching feeling as being raqué. In a different part of the book, Maude describes her state of health: Je suis raquée, ça me pique partout et j’ai encore mal à la gorge et à la peau. I’m sore all over, it’s prickling all over my body, and my throat and skin still hurt.

And finally, a word you might not know but will surely like to learn: un bec. A bec isn’t a juicy, sloppy wet kiss: that’s un french. A bec, for example, can be a little peck on the cheek (petit bec sur la joue) or a big kiss planted on someone’s forehead, like when Maude thanks her tattoo artist by saying: Hugues, gros bec sur le front : X! Hugues, big kiss on the forehead: X! The expression donner un bec à quelqu’un means “to give someone a kiss.”

Well, I said 7 words, but there’s actually a lot more than that here, isn’t there? Here’s the main stuff again, simplified in list form:

Je ne fitte pas dans les statistiques.
I don’t fit the statistics.

La morale dans tout ça?
Moral of the story?

Checkez-vous les boules pareil.
Check your boobs anyway.

plein de chnoute
full of shit, full of crap

C’est de la chnoute.
It’s crap. It’s a piece of junk.

Chrystian a pogné le creux de la vague.
Chrystian’s feeling really down; he’s down in the dumps.

On n’est jamais down en même temps.
We’re never down at the same time.

Moi, chui méga frue et j’ai pogné un down.
I’m frustrated big time and I’m down in the dumps.

booker quelqu’un d’autre à ma place
to book someone else in my spot

Ils sont bookés tellement d’avance.
They’re booked so far in advance.

Mon temps se booke vite.
My time fills up fast.

Je suis raqué.
I’m worn out, sore all over.

Gros bec sur le front!
Big kiss on the forehead!

un petit bec sur la joue
a little kiss on the cheek

donner un bec à quelqu’un
to give someone a kiss

_ _ _

French quotes written by Maude Schiltz in Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer (tome 1), Éditions de Mortagne, Boucherville (Québec), 2013.

Page references: boules 200; fitter 200; chnoute 204; down 190; booker 54, 55, 63; raqué 73; bec 62.

You can find all the entries on OffQc related to Maude’s book Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer here.

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