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Posts Tagged ‘balayeuse’

I grabbed a handful of usages that have appeared on OffQc since post #1000 and put them in a cloud. Can you explain to yourself how each one might be used? You can click on the image for a larger version.

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A reader of OffQc asks for help understanding the difference between the French words for broom and vacuum cleaner as used in Québec, as well as the difference between the French verbs for to sweep and to vacuum.

Nice question! The word for broom in French is un balai. There are two ways vacuum cleaner is said in French: un aspirateur, une balayeuse.

When it refers to a vacuum cleaner, the term balayeuse — it sounds a lot like balai, doesn’t it? — is specific to the French used in Québec. Aspirateur is used everywhere, including Québec.

If you were to go shopping for a vacuum cleaner, you’d see the term aspirateur on the box. Balayeuse, on the other hand, feels more like a colloquial usage.

So those are the words for broom and vacuum cleaner.

  • un balai, broom
  • une balayeuse, vacuum cleaner
  • un aspirateur, vacuum cleaner

If you’re going shopping for a vacuum cleaner, you can talk about it with the verb magasiner. For example, magasiner un aspirateur means to shop around for a vacuum cleaner.

What about the verb forms? You can use passer with all three words:

  • passer le balai, to sweep (with a broom)
  • passer la balayeuse, to vacuum
  • passer l’aspirateur, to vacuum

If you want to say where the sweeping or vacuuming is done, you can use dans, for example: j’ai passé la balayeuse dans ma chambre.

But there’s also the verb balayer, which means to sweep:

  • balayer, to sweep (with a broom)

If you want to say to sweep the floor using this verb, you can say balayer le plancher. Balayer la cuisine is to sweep the kitchen.

Pronunciation tip

Balai sounds like balè. Are you pronouncing è correctly?

Say these two words in French: mes and messe.

Mes sounds like mé, but messe sounds like mèss. Do you hear the difference between the two vowel sounds? The è sound of messe is the same sound used in balai. Balai ends in the same sound as that informal English word of indifference: meh.

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I bought 3 really cool postcards yesterday.

Feminine words are in black.
Masculine words are in blue.

Petit lexique québécois

Petit lexique québécois

bibitte à patates (lady bug), pitou (doggie), maringouin (mosquito), coquerelle (cockroach), mouche à feu (firefly), ouaouaron (bull frog), moufette (skunk), siffleux (groundhog), minoune (kitty)

Petit lexique québécois

Petit lexique québécois

bobettes (undies), calotte (cap), coton ouaté (sweatshirt), mitaines (mittens), soulier (shoe), tuque (tuque), froque (coat), bas (socks), espadrille (running shoe)

Petit lexique québécois

Petit lexique québécois

bombe (kettle), cadran (alarm clock), barniques (barnacles, spectacles), bécycle (bicycle), plasteur (bandage), champlure (tap), ruine-babine (harmonica), balayeuse (vacuum cleaner), bazou (jalopy)

I’m going to give these postcards away to somebody here. There were more postcards in the series, and I wanted to buy them all and give them away, but I’d have got into trouble if I spent all my money and came home last night without the milk and bread I was supposed to buy.

I bought the postcards at Renaud-Bray, if you want to look for them yourself. Or you can buy them online from tiguidou-shop.com, including the other ones in the series. They’re cheaper online, but I didn’t check the shipping.

I also have two new DVDs from Québec with subtitles to give away. So, if you participated in the La grande séduction contest but didn’t win, I’m putting your email address back into a tuque or bas and will pull out three new winners. Two people will get a DVD, and one will get the postcards.

Check your email – I may be writing to you asking for your postal address!
_ _ _

Notes:

Despite the singular forms on the postcard, barniques and bobettes are generally used in the plural.

Bécycle is pronounced bécik. Ouaouaron is pronounced wawaron.

Froque is also spelled froc. Ruine-babine is also spelled ruine-babines.

Bombe is an old-fashioned word for bouilloire. Champlure is falling out of use; you can say robinet.

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