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Posts Tagged ‘cave’

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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Ostie que ça pue

Here are 5 items in French that you’ll find useful to learn. This list of 5 all started with 1 smelly garbage bin in Montréal…

1. Ostie que ça pue!

“Fuck that stinks!” I heard a man yell this while standing at a bus stop with some friends. Near them was a smelly garbage bin.

When something stinks, ça pue.

Ostie derives from hostie, the sacramental bread for Catholics. Variations of the swear word ostie exist, like estie and astie.

Yelling ostie or one of its variations is equivalent to yelling “fuck!”

Ostie que ça pue dans ta chambre!
Does it ever fucking stink in your room!

Remember how vidanges means “garbage” in Québec? I found this example on the web using both puer from our example above and vidanges:

J’devrais p’t’être sortir les vidanges qui puent la marde.
= Je devrais peut-être sortir les vidanges qui puent la marde.
I should probably take out the garbage which smells like shit.

2. Marde

That last example used puer la marde, “to smell like shit.” And that’s not a spelling mistake for merde — you really will hear marde in Québec.

Merde is also understood, like everywhere in the French-speaking world, but marde is distinctively québécois shit.

In a scene from La Galère (season 3, episode 10), Claude panics when her fiancé leaves her. She exclaims:

J’sus dans marde!
I’m in deep shit! I’m screwed!

3. J’sus dans marde!

When you’re up shit’s creek, t’es dans marde. The expression is être dans la marde, but you’ll hear it said as être dans marde, without la. It’s an informal contraction where la gets swallowed up by dans.

J’sus sounds like chu. It means the same thing as je suis, but chu is an informal pronunciation of it. Another informal pronunciation you’ll hear is j’suis, which sounds like chui.

In another scene from La Galère (season 2, episode 2), Stéphanie is angry because she’s let herself get hurt again by her boyfriend. She uses the informal j’sus when she says:

J’sus cave, j’sus cave, ostie, j’sus cave.
I’m so stupid, so stupid, fuck, I’m so stupid.

4. Cave

Un cave is an idiot. Olivier from Les Parent (season 3, episode 19) says:

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

He used the vous form because he was speaking to more than one person. If we convert it to the tu form, it becomes prends-moi pas pour un cave!

5. Prends-moi pas

This form is an informal usage. According to the rules of standard written French, it would have to be ne me prends pas. During conversations, you’re very likely to hear it said as prends-moi pas instead.

Here’s another example of this with the verb toucher.

1. touche-moi
2. touche-moi pas
3. ne me touche pas

(1) is the affirmative form. (2) is an informal spoken form in the negative. (3) is the standard written form in the negative.

Below is an example from the web using touche-moi pas. And just to take us full-circle back to number 1 of this list, it also uses the verb puer as part of the expression puer la sueur, similar to puer la marde.

Tu pues la sueur dès huit heures le matin.
Touche-moi pas!

You stink of sweat as early as 8 o’clock in the morning.
Don’t touch me!

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OffQc

Yes! Entry #600!

As #600 approached, I got curious as to the most googled québécois words and phrases that led people to OffQc since it began in December 2010… and there they are in the image above!

You can click on it to make it bigger.

Do you know them all?

Thanks everybody for continuing to read OffQc. It’s a privilege to have your attention.

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