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Here are 5 new items for you to learn in French:

  • 3 colloquial French expressions overheard in Montréal
  • 2 images related to dogs seen in Montréal

1. Hier y’a fait chaud en tabarouette!

It was darn hot yesterday!

A man said this the day after the temperature had warmed up a little. He exaggerated though by saying that it was really hot the day before, even if the temperature wasn’t in fact hot (it was just warmer than usual).

Y’a is an informal pronunciation of il, so y’a fait chaud is a colloquial pronunciation of il a fait chaud.

Tabarouette sounds like ta-bar-wett. The expression en tabarouette makes the adjective that comes before it stronger. Tabarouette derives from the québécois swear word tabarnak, but tabarouette is a non-offensive version of it (like “darn” instead of “damn”).

C’est cher en tabarouette!
It’s darn expensive!

Tabarouette!
Darn! Holy cow!

2. Qu’est-ce tu fais à soir?

Whaddya doin’ tonight?

The girl that said this didn’t ask qu’est-ce que tu fais à soir?, she asked qu’est-ce tu fais à soir? She dropped the word que. This often happens during informal French conversations before the word tu. Qu’est-ce on its own without the que sounds like kess.

Remember, tu in Québec sounds like tsu.

Qu’est-ce tu fais?
(kess tsu fè)
What’re you doin’?

Qu’est-ce tu veux?
(kess tsu veu)
Whaddya want?

Qu’est-ce t’en penses?
(kess tan pense)
Whaddya think (about that)?

À soir means the same thing as ce soir. In most forms of writing, it’s better to use ce soir. In regular conversations, you’ll hear both ce soir and à soir.

3. Ah ok, là j’comprends!

Ah ok, now I understand!
Ah ok, now I get it!

Maintenant isn’t the only way to say “now” in French. In Québec, is very often used instead. Sometimes you’ll even hear it repeated for extra effect.

Là là, chu tanné!
Now I’m really fed up!
Now I’ve really had it!

Chu is an informal pronunciation of je suis.

Votre animal fait un effort4. Votre animal fait un effort, faites le vôtre!

If your animal can make an effort, so can you!

This funny sign in Montréal asks dog owners to make an effort (i.e., pick up after their dog) after their dog has “made an effort” (i.e., gone poo).

Merci de ramasser
Thank you for picking up (after your dog)

Remember, ramasser in Québec is pronounced ramâsser. The accented â sounds something like “aww.”

If the word contains â, that’s easy: say “aww.” But some words take the “aww” sound even if they aren’t written with the accent. Here’s a list of 50 French words pronounced with the “aww” sound but not written with the accented â.

Remember, it isn’t necessary for you to pronounce â as “aww” to make yourself understood. If you pronounce â like a regular a sound, everybody will understand you. At the very least, learn to hear the difference between the â and a sounds so that you recognise the word that people are saying.

Nouvelle aire d'exercice canin5. Nouvelle aire d’exercice canin

New dog exercise area

A little farther down the street, I spotted another sign related to dogs.

This sign tells us that in May 2014 the fenced off area will become a zone for dogs to run around in.

The masculine word air means “air.” The feminine word aire means “zone” or “area.” Maybe you’ll remember this no-smoking sign in French containing a play on the words air and aire.

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Le mégot n'est pas un engraisThis little sign in a flowerbed outside the Complexe Desjardins in Montréal reminds people in a unique way to avoid leaving their cigarette butts among the plants:

Le mégot n’est pas un engrais!
SVP utilisez les cendriers

1. Mégot

Un mégot is a cigarette butt, the part of the cigarette that’s left over after it’s been smoked. This sign tells us that cigarette butts are not fertilisers, le mégot n’est pas un engrais!

2. Cendrier

The sign also tells smokers where to put their cigarette butts: in the ashtrays, les cendriers. The word un cendrier can refer to both an ashtray in someone’s home and the tall vertical ones in public places.

3. Botch

In Québec, you may hear another word for mégot during informal conversations: un botch (de cigarette).

Le cendrier était plein de botchs de cigarette.
The ashtray was full of cigarette butts.

Jette pas tes botchs par terre!
Don’t throw your butts on the ground!

4. Botcher

You may also hear the verb botcher, which refers to putting out the cigarette. In fact, you’ve already heard this verb before in a video from a past entry: Jean-François Mercier comically remarks on the fact that his anti-nicotine attack dog Roxie can’t put out cigarettes herself.

Roxie, je le sais que tu comprends pas pourquoi qu’y’a des gens qui fument. J’ai jamais fumé, pis t’as jamais fumé non plus. Pis ça tombe bien parce que t’aurais pas été capable de botcher, à cause que t’es[-t-]un chien…

Roxie, I know you don’t understand why there are people who smoke. I’ve never smoked, and you’ve never smoked either. Which is a good thing because you’d have never been able to put your cigarette out, ‘cos you’re a dog…

Here’s the entire French transcript and translation into English.

5. Puff

Another informal word used in Québec is une puff, which is a puff or drag of smoke. We could also spell it as une poffe. In a scene from the television show Les Parent, Natalie asks for a puff of cigarette from another character:

Me passerais-tu une puff? Juste une p’tite…
Can I have a puff? Just a little one…

[Les Parent, season 4, episode 9, Radio-Canada,
Montréal, 7 November 2011]

Similarly:

Veux-tu une poffe?
Donne-moi une poffe.

Do you want a puff?
Give me a puff.

And a play on words…

Here’s another image related to smoking, this time from Place Ville Marie. The sign reads:

Aire sans fumée
Smoke-free zone

Une aire is a zone.

There’s a play on words happening here. You’ll notice that the letter e in aire is in a different colour to the rest of the text. If we drop that letter, we’re left with:

Air sans fumée
Smoke-free air

Both aire and air are pronounced the same way.

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