Archive for the ‘Entries #851-900’ Category

On Urbania in “Il ne fait définitivement pas beau dans le métro,” Marie Darsigny writes about her displeasure with taking the métro.

She says:

Mon rêve : une bataille générale à Berri-UQAM, où je sors ma sandwich et l’effouerre dans la face de mon prochain.

My dream: a brawl at Berri-UQAM, where I take out my sandwich and squash it in the face of the person next to me.

A few interesting things to look at in this quote:

1. Your dictionary probably says un sandwich, but it’s used here in the feminine instead — ma sandwich. You’ll often hear sandwich used in the feminine, particularly in spoken language.

2. The verb effoirer means to squash, to crush. This verb is an informal usage. It didn’t even make it into the Usito dictionary.

The author has used a pronunciation variation, and then spelled that variation phonetically (effouerrer).

I squash my sandwich in the face of the person next to me.
J’effoire ma sandwich dans la face de mon prochain.
Or using the author’s variation:
J’effouerre ma sandwich dans la face de mon prochain.

The Wiktionnaire article for effoirer says the following about this verb’s spelling variations:

Variantes orthographiques
Elles sont très nombreuses : ce verbe étant essentiellement oral, il est très souvent transcrit phonétiquement par la personne qui l’écrit. Par exemple, on trouve effouarer, effouerer, effouérer, effouèrer, éffoirer, éffouarer, éffouèrer, éffouérer, éffouerer, effouairer, éfouérer.

Got all that?

The reflexive verb s’effoirer has a different meaning. For example, s’effoirer sur le divan means to crash on the sofa. The same Wiktionnaire article gives this example of it: J’ai juste le goût de m’effoirer sur le divan, I just feel like crashing on the sofa.

3. Can you say how dans la face in the quote might be pronounced spontaneously? Dans la can contract in informal speech, but do you remember how?

Maybe you’ll remember from past posts the expression dans la marde, which contracts informally to dans’ marde in spoken language. T’es dans’ marde means you’re screwed. Dans’ is a spoken reduction of dans la.

The same reduction can occur in dans la face.

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Marie Darsigny, Il ne fait définitivement pas beau dans le métro, Urbania, 17 February 2015.

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Montréal. Yes, it’s still winter.

I overheard someone say this yesterday:

C’est pas toujours évident.

The expression c’est pas évident is a good one to learn because you’ll hear it quite a bit. It means “it’s not easy.”

C’est pas toujours évident.
It’s not always easy.

Here are a couple examples of this found online.

A young girl talks about cancer:

Une rechute c’est dur pour le moral parce qu’on sait ce qu’on va devoir endurer. On repart à zéro et ça c’est pas évident pour le moral.
A relapse is tough on you because you know what you’re going to have to go through. You have to start over, and that’s not easy on you.

A blogger talks about her train ride in Russia:

C’est pas évident de se laver dans un train en marche.
It’s not easy to wash yourself in a moving train.

So does évident ever mean evident, obvious? Yes, for example: son importance est évidente, its importance is obvious. But when you hear c’est pas évident, the context will make it clear if what’s meant is “it’s not easy.”

C’est pas is an informal way of saying ce n’est pas.

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I’m getting pretty excited — we’re only two posts away from #900, which means #1000 is appearing on the horizon!

How about some random pronunciation stuff today (maybe review for some of you)?


Do you know how the Québécois pronounce nombril (belly button)Nombril is pronounced nom-bri in Québec. The pronunciation nom-bril is heard in France.

If something’s le nombril du monde, it’s “the belly button of the world,” or in idiomatic English: the centre of the universe.


Do you remember how the Québécois pronounce lundi? There’s a dz sound in it: lun-dzi. That’s because the letter d makes a little buzzing dz before the i sound.

Not only will you hear dz in lundi, you’ll hear it in all the names of the days of the week: lun[dz]i, mar[dz]i, mercre[dz]i, jeu[dz]i, vendre[dz]i, same[dz]i, [dz]imanche.

If you want to adopt this yourself, don’t go overboard pronouncing dz. It’s not dzzzzzzzzzzz! Just dz.


If you listen to lots of spoken Québécois French, you know how â sounds (a little like aw). But even if you’re aware of this, you might still be surprised to hear words that you’ve known for a long time pronounced with the Québécois â. Can you say how fâché sounds using the â sound? What about château?

The â sound is shown in API (alphabet phonétique international) as:

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Here’s another funny text message conversation from Les Parent, found here on the show’s Facebook page.

The conversation takes place between a mother (grey) and her son Thomas (blue). Lots of great stuff to learn or review in this.

You can click on the image of the phone to see a larger version, but I’ve included the text below as well.

I’ve included notes below about the underlined words.

  • Thomas! Viens donc! On fait un bonhomme de neige!
  • Yark!! Non! Y’a genre un blizzard dehors!!!
  • T’es plate! Température parfaite pour du fun en famille!
  • Ça compte pour du fun en famille si t’es toute seule dehors? P’pa fait dire d’arrêter de le texter. On écoute un film.

Y’a is a spoken contraction of il y a. Genre is used here like English’s informal like. Y’a genre un blizzard dehors!!!, there’s like a blizzard outside!!!

The adjective plate (also spelled platte) means boring here. T’es plate means you’re no fun, you’re boring. Remember, t’es is a spoken contraction of tu es, which sounds like té.

Température means temperature, of course, but here we can understand it to mean weather. This is a Québécois usage. The Usito dictionary gives us a few examples of this: annulé en raison de la mauvaise température (cancelled because of the bad weather), le retour de la belle température (the return of nice weather), profiter pleinement de la belle température (to really enjoy the nice weather).

Avoir du fun means to have fun. Du fun en famille, family fun.

P’pa is a contraction of papa.

Texter means to text, as in to send text messages.

Écouter un film means the same thing as regarder un film, to watch a film. Écouter is often used instead of regarder when talking about watching the TV, a movie, a show, etc.

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Saw this in a tea shop window in Montréal:

thé mon amour

A friend from Central America took a beginner’s French course. In class, they learned that tu es means “you are,” but they never got around to learning that tu es contracts to t’es in spoken language.

This really baffles me. T’es isn’t an obscure contraction. T’es is a high frequency usage that should be introduced right from the beginning.

T’es sounds like (or like the French word thé in the window).

thé mon amour
tea my love

t’es mon amour
you’re my love

Oh, it’s a Valentine’s Day tea pun!
N’est-ce pas romanteaque? N’est-ce pas — oh, fine, I’ll stop.

A few essential spoken contractions to know using tu:

t’es for tu es
t’as for tu as
t’étais for tu étais
t’avais for tu avais
t’en for tu en

In short, tu loses its u before a vowel.

Don’t be afraid to try using these contractions yourself in conversations. They’re so frequently used that nobody’s going to even notice.

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This bin full of ice in front of a dépanneur (corner shop) in Montréal asks us:

As-tu ta glace?
Have you got your ice?

Yes, we’ve got enough ice in Montréal these days, thank you very much!

In addition to asking questions with as-tu, you’ll also hear t’as-tu used spontaneously in conversations.

The title of this La Presse article asks us:

T’as-tu ton tattoo?
Have you got your tattoo?,
but feels more like: Ya got your tattoo?

(Tattoo, borrowed from English, is pronounced tatou. It means the same thing as tatouage and is used informally in conversations.)

T’as is a contraction of tu as. When tu is placed after it, we get a yes-no question.

T’as / ton tattoo.
You’ve got / your tattoo.

T’as-tu / ton tattoo?
You’ve got-(yes or no) / your tattoo?

Asking yes-no questions with tu is often misunderstood. Sometimes people think that the second-person singular tu is being stuck in all over the place! But that’s not what’s happening. In t’as-tu ton tattoo?, the second-person singular tu appears just once — it’s the t’. Tu on the other hand signals that we’re being asked a yes-no question here.

Back to the wording on the bin…

How come it says as-tu on the bin and not t’as-tu?

The question as-tu ta glace? could also be asked informally as t’as-tu ta glace?, but remember that the t’as-tu form is informal. We can liken asking t’as-tu ta glace? to something informal in English like “ya got your ice?” Probably too informal for the text on this bin.

You will on occasion see the yes-no tu used in advertising, but when it occurs, the writers are deliberately seeking an informal style.

By the way, if you’re new to OffQc, be sure to check out the transcribed videos in French in the Listen section.

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Feeling overwhelmed or not sure where to begin when it comes to understanding Québécois French? I’ve got just what you need!

75 mini lessons in conversational Québécois French
Buy it here

If you like reading OffQc, you’ll like reading this guide. It revolves around 75 mini lessons, each one beginning with an example sentence taken from the conversational level of French. This guide will give you an overview of the main features of spoken language, making it easier to continue learning on your own.

You’ll explore the 75 example sentences in depth, helping you to understand informal contractions and omitted words in spontaneous speech, frequently used Québécois vocabulary and expressions, important features of pronunciation (like how â, d and t sound), and how tu is used informally to ask yes-no questions.

At the end of the ebook, there’s a set of exercises with answers that you can complete to test your knowledge.

Table of contents

Table of contents

Sample mini lesson

Sample mini lesson

Sample mini lesson

Sample mini lesson

Sample exercise

Sample exercise

You can buy the ebook here and download it immediately. It’s a PDF.

I’ve written this ebook for those of you with a base in French but who’d now like to begin discovering spoken features of Québécois French. You can also use this ebook to review your knowledge. It’s my hope that C’est what? will help to make listening to French more enjoyable by providing you with the keys you need to make sense of what you hear.

You’ll learn how words like sur, dans, à, je, tu, il, elle, ils, plus, etc., can transform in spontaneous speech. You’ll find many examples of using Québec’s infamous tu to ask yes-no questions. You’ll learn or review vocabulary typical to Québec, like niaiser, capoter, pogner, tanné, cave, poche, plate, là. You’ll discover ways to make your French sound more natural when you speak. Each mini lesson includes usage and pronunciation tips.

In addition to the 75 example sentences that each mini lesson is based on, there are about another 200 example sentences included in the lesson notes.

Buy and download C’est what? here

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Payment is by credit card or PayPal.

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