Posts Tagged ‘ben voyons donc’

Here are 10 of the most googled French usages that led readers to OffQc this year. Do you know them all?


When feeling taken aback by something, you can say voyons don’. (Don’ is in fact donc, but the c is silent here.) You can also say ben voyons don’ for more effect. (Ben sounds like bain; it’s a contraction of bien.) Voyons don’ is similar to the way you might say oh come on in English. For example, maybe you’ve just spilled your coffee for the second time today. Voyons don’! Come on! Or maybe a friend is getting back together with a terrible ex. Ben voyons don’! Oh come on!


Whether it’s pronounced with one syllable (as fak) or two (as fa-que), this means so, just like the French word alors. Faque qu’est-ce qu’on fait à soir? So what’re we gonna do tonight? Faque c’est ça! So there you have it! So there you go! Because of its resemblance to the English F word, a friend from Central America asks me if it’s rude to say faque. Nope! You can faque all you like.


You know how in English people say things like shoot, dang, crikey, cripes, etc., to avoid using the original swear word it comes from? Same thing with tabarnouche — it’s a toned-down version of the vulgar Québécois tabarnak. C’est un bon produit, mais tabarnouche! C’est super cher. It’s a good product, but jeez! It’s super expensive.


Here’s another thing you can say when you’re surprised, taken aback. Picture it — a mother has just told her son he can’t go out and play because he’s got homework to do. He says: Ben làààà! Oh come oooon! Nooo! Or maybe you’ve just found out that everyone at work got a pay increase but you. Ben là! What the? For real?


When you want to say it’s/that’s fine, it’s/that’s ok in French, you can say c’est correct. Maybe your partner just burnt the toast, but you don’t mind. C’est correct, là! C’est pas grave. It’s fine! It’s no big deal. Note that correct is pronounced informally as correc’ in spoken language, without the final t.


If a friend made a comment and you wanted to show your entire agreement, you might say c’t’en plein ça! Exactly! Spot on! C’t’en is a contraction of c’est en. It sounds like en with an st sound attached to the front (st’en). C’est en, on the other hand, sounds like cé t’en.


Not limited to Québécois French, this expression simply means it’s not easy, it’s complicated. Apprendre cinq langues en même temps, c’est pas évident! Learning five languages at once isn’t easy!


You just got a parking ticket? C’est plate. Broke up with your girlfriend? Ah c’est plate. You can use c’est plate (or c’est platte) in the same way you might say in English that stinks, that’s sucks, that’s too bad.


In spoken language, tu can serve the same purpose as est-ce que. C’est-tu, then, means the same thing as est-ce que c’est. This tu is not the second-person singular meaning you; instead, it’s used to form a yes-no question in informal language. C’est-tu correct? Is it/that okay? C’est-tu normal? Is it/that normal?


This literally means you’re sick, you’re ill (where t’es is a contraction of tu es sounding like ), but you’ll also hear t’es malade used informally in the sense of you’re crazy. T’es malade, toi! You’re crazy!

Read Full Post »

Photo not taken today, but that’s pretty much what things looked like this morning… 😦

I kept my ears open today… here’s some overheard French from around Montréal!

Ben voyons don’! Ayoye! Comment ça?

Oh come on! Ouch! How’s that?
A woman walking past me talking into her phone said this all at once. The expression ben voyons don’ or just voyons don’ shows surprise. Don’ comes from donc, but the c isn’t pronounced here. Depending on the context, (ben) voyons don’ can mean oh come on!, come off it!, what?!, for real?, etc.

We can translate ayoye as ouch. It can show surprise or pain. Transcribed in IPA, it’s pronounced [ajɔj].

Comment ça? means how’s that? how’s that possible?, etc.

Hier, y mouillait.

Yesterday, it was raining.
Montréal got a new snowfall today. A man talked about how just yesterday it was raining. He used the verb mouiller. Y mouillait means it was raining, where y is an informal pronunciation of il.

Tu veux t’asseoir où, toi?

Where do you want to sit?
A mother asked her child where he wanted to sit down. This was how she asked. She put the question word at the end.

Je vais aller chercher des napkins.

I’m going to go get napkins, serviettes.
The same mother then said she was going to go get napkins or serviettes. Napkin is used in the feminine. It’s pronounced as in English, but with the stress on the final syllable. The s isn’t pronounced in the plural.

C’est quinze minutes de marche.

It’s a fifteen-minute walk.
A man said this to a woman he was accompanying.

Read Full Post »

In #780, we saw three postcards that I bought with different words from Québec on them — and which will soon be on their way to Mexico because César won them. 😉

The cards are made by tiguidou-shop.com, who’ve put online images of other postcards in the series. Here are a few more fun ones for us to look at:

Nids de poule

Nids de poule

un nid de poule, un nid-de-poule
pothole (literally, hen’s nest)

Montréal, aire de reproduction
Montréal, reproduction zone
[If you’ve never been to Montréal, know that the city is famous for its proliferation of potholes.]

Slow down!!

Ralentissez, pensez à nos enfants
Slow down, think of our children
[The expression pensez à nos enfants can be seen on signs in Québec where drivers are encouraged to drive safely.]

Did you notice the shape of the pothole in the bottom left?


Beavers in deep conversation…

hein?!, huh?!
ouin, yup
ah ouin??, oh yeah??
bin là…, oh come on…
voyons!, oh come on!
awaye dont!, come on!
ben voyons dont…, oh come on…
ouin, yup
ayoye…, ouch…, holy…
fait que… c’est ça, so… yeah
heille!, hey!

In fact, dont is supposed to be spelled donc in these examples, but they’ve used the spelling dont to show that the final c is not pronounced — it sounds like don. A beaver is called un castor in French.

naturiste québécois

Naturiste québécois
Québécois nudist

Read Full Post »