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Posts Tagged ‘cave’

If you’re new to OffQc, you might like to get a copy of C’est what?

C’est what? is an OffQc guide that you can use to get started in understanding what makes Québécois French Québécois, with lots of examples that you can use immediately yourself in conversations. You can buy it here, or you can learn more about it here first.

In C’est what?, there’s an example on the page for sentence 5 that reads: Prends-moi pas pour un cave. Literally, it means don’t take me for an idiot, but it can be used where an English speaker might say I’m not an idiot, you know. How does this sentence work exactly?

Prends-moi pas pour un cave.

  • prends-moi, take me
  • prends-moi pas, take me not
  • pour, for
  • un cave, an idiot

If you’re taking French lessons, you’ll have learned (or will learn) to negate prends-moi like this: ne me prends pas. But that’s not what we’ve got in the example above; we’ve got prends-moi pas. Why?

Negating prends-moi as prends-moi pas is an informal usage. It’s what you’d hear used spontaneously in conversations. You’ll notice this informal negation is simply the affirmative form with pas added to it.

Today, I heard someone say in French don’t listen to them, in an informal style. Based on the above, can you guess how it was said?

Answer
If listen to them is écoute-les, then the informal negation of it is écoute-les pas. (The non-colloquial way is ne les écoute pas.)

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Montréal

Here are 3 examples of French using swear words heard in Québec. They’re taken from Facebook comments.

Maudit que t’es beau!
Damn you’re good-looking!
Damn you look good!

C’est pas d’sa faute si c’est un esti d’cave.
It’s not his fault if he’s a fucking idiot.

Maudite marde.
Holy shit. Damn it.

Do you remember how to pronounce maudit like the Québécois? The letter d sounds like dz when it’s followed by the French i sound. (It’s like the dz sound in the English word lads.) So maudit sounds like [modzi], and maudite sounds like [modzit].

In English, you say a fucking idiot, but in French it’s un esti de cave, with de placed between esti (fucking) and cave (idiot). You can’t say un esti cave. In our example above, the de is contracted informally to d’.

C’est un esti d’cave from the example can contract even further: c’t’un esti d’cave, where c’est is reduced to just a st sound before un.

C’est pas d’ma faute means it’s not my fault.

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Here’s another short clip. Try to listen first without consulting the text below. This video features Martin Matte again, like the last one from #959. This video will be added to the Listen section.

— Qu’est-ce que tu regardes?

— Ha ha, oh attends, là… C’est parce que j’ai tapé «grosse chatte» sur l’écran parce que j’voulais trouver un moyen pour faire maigrir le chat, j’trouve ça p’us d’allure, pis j’su’ tombé là-dessus…

— Juste un problème, c’est qu’on a pas d’chat.

— Oh, tu vas rire, c’est cave, là… j’ai toujours été certain qu’on avait un chat. C’est, c’est, c’est bizarre. On sort de d’là! T’essayes, de toute façon…

— What are you watching?

— Ha ha, oh hold on… It’s just because I typed “big pussy [cat]” on the screen because I wanted to find a way to make the cat lose weight, I think it’s become ridiculous, and I stumbled on this…

— There’s just one problem; we don’t have a cat.

— Oh, you’re gonna laugh, it’s silly… I’ve always been sure we had a cat. That, that, that’s weird. Let’s get outta here. We’ll try to anyway…

Usage and pronunciation notes

j’trouve ça p’us d’allure, I think it’s become ridiculous, gone too far (the related expression ç’a pas d’allure means that’s ridiculous, insane, etc.)
p’us, informal contraction of plus; sounds like pu
pis, 
informal contraction of puis
j’su’, 
informal contraction of je suis; sounds like chu
pas d’chat, listen to how pas d’chat (from pas de chat) is pronounced so you’ll recognise it
cave, stupid, silly
de d’là, informal pronunciation of de là (we saw de d’là before in ôte-toi de d’là)

Listen to the difference in pronunciation between chat and chatte. The vowel a is not pronounced the same way in the two words.

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Found this example of the adjective malaisant used in Québec on the Les Parent Facebook page.

Malaisant = qui rend mal à l’aise

It’s a fictitious text message conversation between Oli (blue) and his girlfriend Sarah (grey).

You can click on the image for a larger version.

Tu fais quoi mon beau Oli?

Je remonte l’historique de nos messages Facebook jusqu’au premier.

Awww!!! T’es ben romantique!!!

C’est quoi le premier?

« Hey le cave, arrête de me fixer dans les cours, c’est vraiment malaisant »

Ah oui, je me souviens

_ _ _

remonter l’historique
to go back through the archives

hey le cave
hey idiot

fixer quelqu’un
to stare at someone

dans les cours
in class, in (our) classes

malaisant
= qui rend mal à l’aise

c’est vraiment malaisant
it really makes me uncomfortable

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In the comments section of a Facebook post, users left insulting comments about a young man who appeared in a video that went viral.

The contents of the video aren’t important… but the insulting comments in French might be of interest to you.

Here are some of the insults the man earned.

beau cave
total idiot

c’t’un malade
he’s crazy

pas fort!
lame, fail, pathetic

champion des épais
champion of the idiots

colon
idiot

Some people insulted other commenters with:

gang de caves
bunch of idiots, shitheads…

bande de cons
bunch of idiots, shitheads…

Lots of words for “idiot” in these comments:

un cave
un épais
un colon
un con

Colon is a settler, a peasant.

Pas fort is used in the same sense as “fail.” If someone did something stupid, attention might be called to it by saying pas fort to shame the person.

— William a vomi sur sa blonde.
— Pas fort.

— William threw up on his girlfriend.
— Fail.

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In entry #815, we saw an image of a sign from la SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec) in a bus shelter. The masculine term pouche-pouche was used on that sign, which refers to a spray bottle.

The ad told us we could stay cool this summer by spraying mist on ourselves with a pouche-pouche, or we could head over to the SAQ to make a purchase:

Aspergez-vous de bruine en pouche-pouche ou passez à la SAQ
Spray yourself with mist from a spray bottle or visit the SAQ

If you click on the first image, you’ll see it full-size.

The second image is a new one. It’s another sign from the SAQ on the same theme of keeping cool. The sign reads:

Retournez dans le sous-sol chez vos parents ou passez à la SAQ
Go back to your parents’ basement or visit the SAQ
(i.e., move back into your parents’ basement or visit the SAQ)

The sign is telling us that we can keep cool by moving back into our parents’ basement or that we can visit the SAQ to make a purchase.

The basement of a house, or le sous-sol, is much cooler than the rest of the house. It’s also the place where some not-so-young-anymore people live when they haven’t moved away from home yet…

In addition to le sous-sol, learn the word la cave. The cave of a house is also its basement. It looks like the English word “cave,” but be sure not to pronounce it like that. It’s a French word, so it rhymes with bave.

dans le sous-sol de tes parents
dans la cave de tes parents

in your parents’ basement

In fact, we saw the word cave in the sense of basement in entry #776, where it was used as part of an informal expression unique to Québec:

avoir de l’eau dans la cave
to be wearing pants that are too short
(literally, to have water in the basement)

If you’ve got a flooded basement, you’d roll up the bottom part of your trousers to avoid getting them wet when walking around.

Someone who wears pants that are too short for his legs looks a little like someone who’s got water problems at home in the basement!

Remember, dans la has a tendency of contracting in informal speech. This is sometimes shown in writing as dans’ or dan’. (The la kind of gets swallowed up.) This means you might hear dans la cave de tes parents pronounced as dans’ cave de tes parents. Similarly, the informal expression avoir de l’eau dans la cave can sound like avoir d’l’eau dans cave.

The word cave has another meaning in Québec, but it’s unrelated to basements: it can also mean “stupid,” “idiot.”

Prends-moi pas pour un cave!
I’m not stupid, you know!
(literally, don’t take me for an idiot)

Arrête de faire le cave!
Stop acting like an idiot!

C’est un gros cave.
He’s such an idiot.

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Yesterday, we looked at how to talk about jeans that don’t fit in French. Today, let’s look at a fun expression used in Québec related to pants that are way too short!

First, know that in Québec the basement of a house is often called la cave. It’s also known as le sous-sol, but you’ll need to know the word cave to understand today’s expression.

Imagine your basement, or cave, flooded with water. You’d have to roll up the bottom of your pants or trousers before going down to the cave to take care of business, right?

When your pants are rolled up, they look too short. So, if you heard someone say that so-and-so has “water in the basement,” it’s a funny way of saying that his pants are too short!

avoir de l’eau dans la cave
to be wearing pants that are too short
(literally, to have water in the basement)

Remember, dans la often contracts to dans in conversations. So, when you hear people in fact say avoir de l’eau dans cave, it’s not a grammatical mistake; it’s an informal shortcut in pronunciation.

I found this example online about someone who hates how his pants look so short when he gets up on his motorbike:

Je déteste avoir de l’eau dans cave quand je m’assis sur le bike.
I hate how my pants look so short when I get on the bike.

Without wanting to get too far off topic, you may sometimes come across the conjugation je m’assis in Québec. If you use it yourself, francophones may correct you: it’s not the standard form in Québec. I recommend you learn what it means (i.e., I sit) but say or write je m’assois instead. This always works.

As for the difference between the forms je m’assois and je m’assieds, the first one (je m’assois) is used more often in spoken Québécois French than the second one (je m’assieds).

Finally, to say “to wear a pair of pants,” you can use either porter un pantalon or porter des pantalons. For some people, pantalons in the plural is less correct than pantalon in the singular. In a written text, you can avoid all doubt and use the singular. Otherwise, know that both are used.

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