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Un gros bec sur le front

gros bec sur le front

Just when you thought you’d already see it all, along come 7 new words used in Québec appearing on OffQc for the very first time! (Or at least I think it’s the first time; even I can’t keep track of what’s on OffQc anymore.)

The French in this entry comes from Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer (tome 1), written by Maude Schiltz. If you’re reading this, Maude, I think I’m gonna have to rename this blog Ah shit, je parle québécois! Thanks for the great examples, as always.

Here are the 7 words, which we’ll look at in more detail below:

1. boules, boobs
2. fitter, to fit
3. chnoute, shit
4. down, down (duh!)
5. booker, to book
6. raqué, worn out, sore
7. bec, kiss

In her book, Maude lists the leading causes of breast cancer, like heredity, being overweight, smoking, stress, alcohol, etc. She explains that she doesn’t fit the typical profile (most of the causes don’t apply to her), but she developed breast cancer nonetheless. She says: Je ne fitte pas dans les statistiques. La morale dans tout ça? Si vous ne fittez pas non plus, checkez-vous les boules pareil. I don’t fit the statistics. Moral of the story? If you don’t fit the statistics either, check your boobs anyway.

Boules is a feminine word. The English word “tits” seems too vulgar a translation for boules (or at least here, it does), and “breasts” doesn’t convey the informality of the word; “boobs” seems like the best way to render boules in English.

Maude reminds us of the importance of eating well, not smoking, and avoiding the sun and products like cheap perfumes that are pleins de parabènes en particulier et de chnoute en général, full of parabens in particular and crap in general. If you heard someone say c’est de la chnoute when talking about a product, the person is saying that it’s crap, shitty, a piece of junk, etc.

At one point, Maude tells us that her chum was having a hard time accepting her cancer and that he was feeling down. She says: Chrystian a pogné le creux de la vague. Chrystian’s feeling really down. It’s a longer, more descriptive way of saying être down, which Maude also uses in her book. We can probably liken the French expression pogner le creux de la vague to the English expression “to be down in the dumps.”

Maude explains that she and her chum never feel down at the same time though, which is a good thing: La bonne chose, c’est qu’on n’est jamais down en même temps, alors il y en a toujours un pour essayer de remonter l’autre, tout n’est pas perdu. The good thing is that we’re never down at the same time, so there’s always one of us to help pick the other back up; all’s not lost. A similar expression is pogner un down, for example: Moi, chui méga frue et j’ai pogné un down. I’m frustrated big time and I’m down in the dumps. Fru and frue are informal shortforms of frustré, frustrée.

When Maude had to cancel her appointment with her tattoo artist for health reasons, she was very saddended by it. She tells the tattooist to give her appointment to someone else: J’ai eu beaucoup, mais beaucoup de peine en disant au tatoueur de laisser tomber et de booker quelqu’un d’autre à ma place. I was very, and I mean very upset when I told the tattooist to forget it and book someone else instead. Booker is pronounced bouker.

Maude’s happy to learn later on though that her doctor says she can indeed get a tattoo done. She manages to land a last-minute appointment: Les tatoueurs de chez Imago m’ont fait une place à la dernière minute pour demain, eux qui sont bookés tellement d’avance. The tattooers at Imago, who are always booked so far in advance, booked me in at the last minute for tomorrow. Maude uses the verb booker yet again when she talks about how her schedule fills up quickly every day: Mon temps se booke vite. My time fills up fast.

You know how you feel after a strenuous workout? You can describe that worn-out and aching feeling as being raqué. In a different part of the book, Maude describes her state of health: Je suis raquée, ça me pique partout et j’ai encore mal à la gorge et à la peau. I’m sore all over, it’s prickling all over my body, and my throat and skin still hurt.

And finally, a word you might not know but will surely like to learn: un bec. A bec isn’t a juicy, sloppy wet kiss: that’s un french. A bec, for example, can be a little peck on the cheek (petit bec sur la joue) or a big kiss planted on someone’s forehead, like when Maude thanks her tattoo artist by saying: Hugues, gros bec sur le front : X! Hugues, big kiss on the forehead: X! The expression donner un bec à quelqu’un means “to give someone a kiss.”

Well, I said 7 words, but there’s actually a lot more than that here, isn’t there? Here’s the main stuff again, simplified in list form:

Je ne fitte pas dans les statistiques.
I don’t fit the statistics.

La morale dans tout ça?
Moral of the story?

Checkez-vous les boules pareil.
Check your boobs anyway.

plein de chnoute
full of shit, full of crap

C’est de la chnoute.
It’s crap. It’s a piece of junk.

Chrystian a pogné le creux de la vague.
Chrystian’s feeling really down; he’s down in the dumps.

On n’est jamais down en même temps.
We’re never down at the same time.

Moi, chui méga frue et j’ai pogné un down.
I’m frustrated big time and I’m down in the dumps.

booker quelqu’un d’autre à ma place
to book someone else in my spot

Ils sont bookés tellement d’avance.
They’re booked so far in advance.

Mon temps se booke vite.
My time fills up fast.

Je suis raqué.
I’m worn out, sore all over.

Gros bec sur le front!
Big kiss on the forehead!

un petit bec sur la joue
a little kiss on the cheek

donner un bec à quelqu’un
to give someone a kiss

_ _ _

French quotes written by Maude Schiltz in Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer (tome 1), Éditions de Mortagne, Boucherville (Québec), 2013.

Page references: boules 200; fitter 200; chnoute 204; down 190; booker 54, 55, 63; raqué 73; bec 62.

You can find all the entries on OffQc related to Maude’s book Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer here.

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face de bœuf

In her book Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer, Maude talks about a psychologist at the hospital where she received chemotherapy.

The psychologist is arrogant and incompetent, and Maude dislikes her intensely. Tongue in cheek, she refers to the psychologist as “Barbie” throughout her book.

At one point, Maude happens to walk past Barbie in one of the hospital’s corridors. Still upset about Barbie’s poor behaviour from an earlier encounter, Maude says she gave Barbie the best nasty look she could muster:

Je lui ai fait mon plus bel air de bœuf.
I gave her my best nasty look.

Un air de bœuf is a look of nastiness or grumpiness. You’ll also come across the expression une face de bœuf, which is a nasty or grumpy looking face.

In Québec, don’t be surprised to hear the animal bœuf pronounced as beu, in both the singular and plural forms: un beu, deux beux.

Speaking of deux beux, maybe you’ll remember an entry on OffQc waaaay back in #177 where I mentioned that one of the tentative names for the TV show 19-2 was Deux beux. That’s because beux is also a slang word for cops, and the two protagonists in 19-2 are cops, deux beux.

But let’s get back to air de bœuf and face de bœuf (air de beu, face de beu). Here’s an example from a blog called Les aventures de la famille Cloutier-Beauséjour about an angry waitress:

On attend quelques minutes et la serveuse arrive avec sa face de bœuf. Elle nous garroche les ustensiles […].
We wait a few minutes and then the waitress shows up with a grumpy look on her face. She throws the utensils at us.

La Parlure also provides a useful example of air de bœuf (the c in donc is silent in this example):

Qu’est-ce qui se passe? T’as donc ben un air de bœuf!
What’s the matter? You look really grouchy!

So, there you go. Now you know — if you hear someone described as having an ox face, it’s because it looks like that person is in a bad mood with a grumpy or unfriendly look on the face.

avoir un air de bœuf
faire un air de bœuf
avoir une face de bœuf
faire une face de bœuf

As for Maude’s incompetent Barbie at the hospital, I had my own Barbie to deal with after my foot was crushed in an accident. My Barbie was a nurse though, not a psychologist, and I had a much less flattering name for her…

_ _ _

First quote written by: Maude Schiltz, Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer, tome 1, Éditions de Mortagne, Boucherville (Québec), 2013, page 150.

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Maude Schiltz was diagnosed with cancer in both breasts at age 39. After her diagnosis, she began sending emails to her friends to keep them updated on her health. Her book Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer is a collection of the emails she sent.

Maude’s book is peppered with a lot of colloquial French. In this post, let’s take a look at how she uses the words tough (toffe) and toffer, which you need to understand. We’ll also look at some examples taken from other sources.

In an email, Maude describes the different surgical possibilties that exist to treat her breast cancer. She mentions which surgical procedure she prefers, but she also describes the negative aspects of the procedure, such as excessive scarring, as being tough on a woman’s femininity. She writes: C’est tough sur la féminité! (That’s tough on a woman’s femininity!)

Maude put the word tough in italics. This is because she recognises the word as being an informal borrowing from English. Nevertheless, tough has been absorbed into the French vocabulary of Québec. Unlike its English equivalent, however, tough is felt to be an informal usage only in French.

When francophones say tough, the gh is pronounced like an f, just like its English equivalent. To use a more phonetic spelling, we can write the word as toffe. In texts written informally, you may come across the spellings tough, toffe, tof.

This isn’t the first time tough has shown up on OffQc. In entry #322, we saw tough used as a noun: C’est un tough, lui. Un vrai tough! (He’s a tough guy. A real tough guy!)

In that same entry, we saw how a teacher from the television show 30 vies corrected her student when he used the word tough to describe a tough-acting character he had invented for a story. She told him he should say dur instead of tough to avoid using an anglicism. He disagreed with his teacher. According to him: Dur, c’est moins tough que tough!

Tough (or toffe) can also be transformed into a verb in Québec: toffer. When you hear the Québecois use the verb toffer, they’re talking about toughing something out.

Maude used the verb toffer in her book. She describes a medical procedure that she’d like to try during chemotherapy, which involves freezing the head with a cold cap, and freezing the hands and feet with cold gloves and slippers. She explains that doing this may help to prevent the loss of hair, fingernails and toenails.

She says that the procedure is very difficult to withstand, however. It causes severe headaches and shivering. She questions whether or not she’d be able to tough it out. She writes: Est-ce que j’arriverai à « toffer » un casque, des chaussettes et des gants glacés? (Will I be able to tough it out wearing a cold cap, slippers and gloves?)

This time, Maude use guillemets («») around toffer, again because she recognises that this verb derives from an English word, even if it’s been absorbed into French and given a French spelling.

This isn’t the first time toffer has shown up on OffQc either. In entry #392, we’ve got the following example of toffer that I overheard in Montréal on the métro: Tu vas devoir toffer un peu. (You’re gonna have to tough it out a bit.)

_ _ _

Here are this entry’s examples again in list form and with references:

1. C’est tough sur la féminité!
That’s tough on a woman’s femininity!

[Maude Schiltz, Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer, Éditions de Mortagne, Boucherville, 2013, p.20.]

2. C’est un tough, lui. Un vrai tough!
He’s a tough guy. A real tough guy!

[First used in entry #322.]

3. Dur, c’est moins tough que tough!
Dur is less tough than tough!

[30 vies, season 2, episode 37, Radio-Canada, Montréal, 14 November 2011. First used in entry #322.]

4. Est-ce que j’arriverai à « toffer » un casque, des chaussettes et des gants glacés?
Will I be able to tough it out wearing a cold cap, slippers and gloves?

[Maude Schiltz, Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer, Éditions de Mortagne, Boucherville, 2013, p.21.]

5. Tu vas devoir toffer un peu.
You’re gonna have to tough it out a bit.

[Overheard in Montréal in January 2012. First used in entry #392.]

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Ah shit, j'ai pogné le cancer (Maude Schiltz)

Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer

I spotted the book in the image while browsing in Archambault in Montréal. It’s called Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer, written by Maude Schiltz.

The title means “Ah shit, I got cancer.” Maybe you’ll remember that the informal verb pogner (rhymes with cogner) is frequently used in Québec in the sense of “to catch.”

This book is Schiltz’s account of developing cancer in both breasts. I haven’t read the book yet (I’ve only just bought it), but as you may have guessed from the title, it’s written in a lively, conversational style of French.

Just a few words from the back cover:

Cancer. Les deux seins. Treize tumeurs. WHAT?! Ben voyons donc, tu me niaises-tu, j’ai 39 ans! Eille, come on – ça se peut même pas; mes enfants ont juste 5 pis 9 ans! Ben non madame, c’est pour vrai… Han?! Ah, shit…

Cancer. Both breasts. Thirteen tumours. WHAT?! Oh come on, you kidding me? I’m 39 years old! Hey, come on – this just isn’t possible; my kids are just 5 and 9 years old. “No, madame, it’s true…” Huh?! Ah, shit…

I’m looking forward to reading the book, and I’m sure I’ll be commenting on it in future entries.

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