Posts Tagged ‘bécik’

Assurez-vous de bien barrer votre vélo.

Un conseil : Assurez-vous de bien barrer votre vélo.

At the marché Jean-Talon in Montréal, a yellow sign advises bike owners to lock up their bikes:

Assurez-vous de bien barrer votre vélo. Be sure to lock your bike securely.

Do you remember from earlier posts on OffQc that the Québécois also sometimes call a bike un bécik at the informal level of language?

Bécik entered the language via English. It’s how the Québécois pronounce bicycle.

Barrer is used in Québec in the sense of “to lock up.” It’s pronounced bâré. The â sound comes close to the “aww” sound of English.

The verb barrer appeared in this list of 50 words pronounced with the â sound in Québec, but not written with the accented â.

barrer la porte
to lock the door

barrer son vélo
to lock one’s bike

barrer son bécik
to lock one’s bike
[this one sounds especially québécois]

You can use barrer to talk about locking any kind of door: a house door, bathroom door, bedroom door, shop door, etc.

barrer sa case
barrer son casier
to lock one’s locker

Both case and casier also appeared in the list of 50 â-sound words. They’re pronounced câz and câzié in Québec.

barrer sa case avec un cadenas
barrer son casier avec un cadenas
to lock one’s locker with a padlock

The second a in cadenas also uses the â sound. That darn â sound is all over the place! The Québécois pronounce those last two examples as:

bâré sa câz avec un cadnâ
bâré son câzié avec un cadnâ

Just behind the sign in that same image, we see a bike locked up to a rack. What’s the term used in Québec for a bike rack?

A sign in the marché Jean-Talon (see below) shows us one way to say “bike rack” in French:

un support à vélo
a bike rack

The term support à vélo (or support à vélos) is standard Québécois French. But during spontaneous conversations, you might also hear:

un rack à vélo
un rack à bécik
[these both sound especially québécois; the second one in particular is guaranteed to make your French teacher’s skin go all goose pimply]

A rack for bikes is called “un support” in French, but you’ll also hear “un rack.”

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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!
_ _ _


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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At a BIXI bike rental station in downtown Montréal, we see an eye-catching ad that reads:

Cassez-vous pas le bicycle!

Considering that we’re at a BIXI station, you might think that the BIXI people are warning us not to break our rented bike!

That’s the literal meaning, but this is in fact a québécois expression that also has a figurative meaning.

Looking a little more closely, we see that the ad is for laser eye surgery. It says optez pour le LASIK under the expression. What we’re really being told is to not go to a lot of trouble (cassez-vous pas le bicycle) and choose LASIK.

se casser le bicycle
to go to a lot of trouble, to complicate things, to struggle, etc.

The expression works very well here because of its additional literal meaning about not breaking your bike in an accident because you still wear glasses!

We can learn two things about québécois pronunciation from this example.

1. Casser is pronounced câsser.
2. Bicycle is pronounced bécik.

Remember that “aww” sound that Ricardo used when he pronounced carré? That same sound is used in the verb casser.

The word bécik (and bicycle) is an informal use, generally limited to spoken French. On the other hand, you can use vélo in any language situation, including informal ones.

That said, you may in fact come across the spelling bécik on occasion. In the image, Bécik vert is the name of a bike sharing programme.

We can also learn something about informal sentence structure from the laser surgery ad:

Cassez-vous le bicycle
Cassez-vous pas le bicycle

The expression was made negative by just adding in pas. This is different to the standard grammar of written French, which would require a change in word order to make it negative:

Ne vous cassez pas le bicycle

Take another example:

Ne t’inquiète pas.
Do not worry.

When people are speaking casually, you may hear that said instead as:

Inquiète-toi pas.

Again, it just follows the affirmative word order with pas added in:

inquiète-toi pas

Remember that inquiète-toi pas is an informal use mostly limited to spoken French, whereas ne t’inquiète pas adheres to the standard grammar of written French.

Getting back to the expression in the laser surgery ad, it uses the vous form. If you wanted to use the informal singular tu form, it becomes:

Casse-toi pas le bicycle!

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