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Posts Tagged ‘ben’

 

There’s an ad running on Radio-Canada where the speaker says:

Y’a ben trop d’stock.

Maybe you’re getting used to seeing these informal contractions and recognise this as meaning:

Il y a bien trop de stock.

What you might be less sure of though is the word stock.

Although stock can mean stock (as in merchandise), it was used here instead in the general sense of stuff. This is an informal, conversational usage.

Y’a ben trop d’stock.
There’s way too much stuff.

Y’a ben trop d’stock dans ta valise.
There’s way too much stuff in your suitcase.

To pronounce trop d’stock, first say trop. Now put a d sound on the end of trop (like tro’d’). Now add the word stock. Trop d’stock has two syllables.

Remember, ben sounds like the French word bain.

In fact, we’ve seen this use of stock before. In an earlier post, Louis (from Les Parent) is helping his teenaged son with his homework, but his son is having trouble doing it.

Louis doesn’t see why his son shouldn’t understand his homework because it’s below his grade level. He gets frustrated with his son and tells him that what they’re working on is du stock de troisième année, grade three stuff.

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Here’s more French as spoken by Ricardo.

As he was preparing a dish before his televised audience, he said to go easy on the salt when adding it to his preparation. His exact words were:

Mollo sur le sel.
Easy on the salt.

Use normal French stress when pronouncing mollo (i.e., on final syllable). Mollo means gently, with moderation.

At the same time that he said mollo sur le sel, he also said:

On se garde une p’tite gêne.
We’ll hold off, we’ll hold back, let’s show some restraint, etc.

This was Ricardo’s way of insisting further on not using too much salt.

You’ve seen the expression se garder une petite gêne before when a TELUS advertising campaign linked it to pulling out one’s penis at inopportune moments.

Ricardo also uses this expression a lot:

Grosso modo.
More or less.

Use normal French stress when pronouncing grosso modo (i.e., on final syllables). Grosso modo means more or less, approximately.

Ricardo uses this expression when the amount of an ingredient to be added doesn’t need to be exact, just approximate. For example: une cuillère à soupe, grosso modo, a tablespoon, more or less.

The expression grosso modo can be used in any kind of conversation where you want to say more or less, not just when talking about cooking.

Whenever Ricardo wants to stress that preparing something in a certain way is very important, he often says:

C’est ben important.
It’s really important.

Ben is an informal, spoken contraction of bien; it sounds like the French word bain. Ben important sounds like bain n’important.

1. Mollo sur le sel.
2. On se garde une p’tite gêne.
3. Grosso modo.
4. C’est ben important.

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By “informal,” I mean a word or expression far more likely to be found in normal, spontaneous, everyday language — between friends and family, for example — than in high literature or business correspondence or news reports.

In many posts on OffQc, you’ve no doubt noticed that I very often say that such-and-such a word or expression is an informal usage. Maybe you’ve even begun to wonder if all Québécois words and expressions are informal…

They’re not. There are many words and expressions unique to Québec that you’re just as likely to hear in everyday, spontaneous language as you are in a televised news report or formal language, in the same way that words like téléphone and café can cross language levels.

Below are some examples of both informal and level-neutral Québécois French.

Informal (between friends, for example)

  • pogner, to grab, catch
  • checker, to check
  • c’est-tu…?, is it…?, is that…?
  • capoter, to flip out
  • m’as, I’m gonna (+ infinitive)
  • c’est don’ bin cute!, is that ever cute!
  • pis là, and then
  • faque, so
  • enweille!, come on then!
  • un char, car

Level-neutral (not limited to one language level)

  • un cégépien, cégep student
  • faire l’épicerie, to go food shopping
  • magasiner, to shop, shop around for
  • une tête-de-violon, fiddlehead
  • la poudrerie, blowing snow
  • un melon d’eau, watermelon
  • une pourvoirie, grounds where you can hunt, fish, trap
  • à l’arrêt, at the stop sign
  • un téléroman, soap opera
  • un REER, retirement investment, pronounced ré-èr

It’s true that a lot of the language on OffQc falls more in the informal category than the level-neutral one. I do this because this is the language that’s more difficult to learn.

Informal words and expressions are less likely to appear in dictionaries and learning materials than the level-neutral ones. Informal usages are also sometimes “hidden” from learners by language instructors who judge them negatively or, outside of Québec, may be unknown to them if they aren’t familiar with the Québécois variety of French.

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In the videos I’ve posted to OffQc lately, quite a few informal contractions have come up. It’s imperative to learn these contractions to understand spoken French.

I’ve pulled together a list of these contractions; there’s a link for each one that will take you back to the video where it appeared so you can listen again and learn it.

Here’s something you can try. The sentences below have been written without contractions. Try to say them aloud applying whatever informal contractions are possible from the ones above.

Je suis bien content.
Tu n’es pas tanné?
Je l’ai croisée sur la rue.
Des fois je me fâche.
Il y en a qui disent ça.

Answers

J’su’ ben [chu bin] content. I’m really happy.
T’es pas tanné? You’re not fed up?
Je l’ai croisée s’a rue. I bumped into her in the street.
Des fois j’me fâche. Sometimes I get angry.
Y’en a qui disent ça. Some people say that.

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Here are a few more examples of French overheard in Montréal today, and that I’ve managed to remember long enough to create a new post! 😀

Y’a-tu une caisse pop?

Is there a (Desjardins) credit union (around here)?

A man who passed by in his car asked me this.

Y’a-tu is an informal equivalent of est-ce qu’il y a? You’ll remember that y’a is a spoken pronunciation of il y a. The tu after it turns it into a yes-no question.

Caisse pop is an informal abbreviation of caisse populaire. Desjardins is a caisse populaire.

Attention à gauche!

Look out on your left!

A man on a bike yelled this just before passing by some people walking on a bike path. He said à gauche because he was coming up quickly from behind the walkers and intended to pass on their left.

It’s also possible to say just à gauche! or attention!

Jus d’ananas

Pineapple juice

The final s in ananas isn’t pronounced — anana.

The letter a appears three times in ananas — you’ll probably hear the last a pronounced like the vowel sound heard in the word bas in this video (at 0:15) or in the words pas and chat in this video (at 0:20). The other two sound like the vowel sound in la, sa, ta, etc.

T’es ben fin.

That’s really nice/kind of you.
(literally, you’re really nice/kind)

Fin is often used in the sense of nice or kind, like gentil. The feminine form is fine. T’es, an informal contraction of tu es, sounds like té. Ben, from bien, rhymes with fin. (A better spelling would be bin, which is phonetic, but I use ben here because it’s the more common spelling.) Ben means really here.

If this had been said to a woman, it would be t’es ben fine.

Even though fin and fine resemble English words, they’re not — pronounce them as French words. As for gentil, remember that the final L isn’t pronounced. In the feminine form gentille, the final ille sounds the ille in fille. Be careful not to use that ille sound in the masculine gentil, which just ends in an i sound.

C’est gentil, merci!
That’s kind of you, thanks!

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Here’s a (questionable) car ad in which you’ll hear the informal verb pogner used. Can you make out the meaning of this verb here before checking the translation below? This video will be added to the Listen section.

— Julie a choisi son RAV4 pour la capacité de l’habitacle, un volume de chargement de deux mille quatre-vingt litres, l’idéal pour transporter la petite famille et tout l’équipement nécessaire pour —
— Euh, excusez?
— Oui?
— Moi, j’suis célibataire, pas d’enfants. Je l’ai acheté pour pogner.
— Ah bon?
— Mon prof de yoga, y’aime ben ça.
— La « capacitéduction ». Une autre bonne raison d’acheter une Toyota.
— Louez le RAV4 2015 pour 295 $ par mois avec zéro dollar d’acompte. Toyota, c’est moins cher que vous pensez.

— Julie chose her RAV4 for its spacious passenger compartment, a loading space of two thousand and eighty litres, the ideal (vehicle) for moving the (little) family around and all the equipment they need for —
— Uh, excuse me?
— Yes?
— I’m single, no kids. I bought it to attract someone.
— Oh, really?
— My yoga teacher, he really likes it.
— “La capacitéduction [capacité + séduction].” Another good reason to buy a Toyota.
— Lease the RAV4 2015 for $295 a month with zero down payment. Toyota, it’s cheaper than you think.

Pronunciation and usage notes

j’suis, informal contraction of je suis (the contracted j’s sounds like ch)
célibataire, single
pogner, to attract (someone); similarly, pogner avec les gars, avec les filles means to (know how to) attract guys/girls
y’aime ben ça, informal pronunciation of il aime bien ça, he really likes it; the informal ben sounds like bain

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After I ordered food at the counter in a fast-food restaurant in Montréal, the cashier told me my order wouldn’t be long in coming by saying this:

Ça sera pas bien long.
It won’t be very long.

This expression is very much used by employees who deal with the public (restaurants, on the phone, etc.). It’s a way of telling the customer to be patient and wait while the employees go about their business. You’ll also hear ça sera pas long, without the bien.

We’ve seen many times how bien can be pronounced informally as ben, which sounds like bain. This doesn’t mean that bien isn’t used in spoken language though — the cashier did pronounce bien. Although it’s possible to say ça sera pas ben long, it’s more informal sounding.

Even though the cashier pronounced bien instead of ben, she still avoided using ne in her negation, which is an informal usage.

Careful with the pronunciation of long — in the masculine/neutral form, the g isn’t pronounced. It sounds as if it were written lon, to rhyme with mon, son, etc. It’s the feminine form longue where you’ll hear the g.

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