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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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