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Posts Tagged ‘char’

Spotted this postcard in a Montréal bookshop (we saw others here and here from Tiguidou), where parked cars are depicted as being buried under snow:

image

Tu trouves-tu ton char?
Can you find your car?

tu trouves, you find
tu trouves-tu?, you find?
ton char, your car

In tu trouves-tu?, only the first tu means you. The second tu turns tu trouves into a yes-no question.

The second tu has the same function as est-ce que but is placed after the verb instead here.

tu trouves-tu?
= est-ce que tu trouves?

Both this yes-no tu and the word char in the sense of car are colloquial usages.

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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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A short Facebook update by Rabii Rammal reminds us of both Québécois vocabulary and good manners on this brutal winter day:

Ce soir après la job, stationne pas ton char dans la place que ton voisin a déneigée. C’est pas très gentil.

This evening after work, don’t park your car in the spot that your neighbour had to shovel. That’s not very nice.

la job
job, work

[ne] stationne pas
don’t park

ton char
your car

la place
place, spot

déneiger
to clear away the snow

When a snowplough comes along, it dumps mounds of snow around cars parked in the street, blocking them in. Owners then have the pleasure of having to dig their car out with a shovel. These are the parking spots that Rabii asks neighbours not to steal after work (wouldn’t it be nice).

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Today’s three usages come to us by way of a woman in her 70s. I overheard her speaking with her husband in Montréal.

1. une sacoche

One of the things the woman talked about was her handbag (or purse), which she called une sacoche. I don’t recall her exact words now, but here’s an example:

J’ai laissé ma sacoche sous la table.
I left my handbag (purse) under the table.

2. un char de police

Not far from us, a man got arrested outside. The woman talked about the police cars on the scene.

We’ve seen the masculine word char before, which means “car” in Québec. The woman used this word to talk about the police cars, calling them chars de police.

Y’a deux chars de police.
There are two police cars.

Remember, y’a is an informal (and the most frequent) pronunciation of il y a.

3. m’as

The woman also used the contraction m’as, which means “I’m gonna…” It’s pronounced mâ.

M’as te dire une affaire, là.
I’m gonna tell you something.

M’as aller m’en chercher un.
I’m gonna go get myself one.

If these don’t make sense to you, replace m’as with je vais.

Where does m’as come from?

je m’en vais
je m’en va’s
m’en va’s
m’as

Je m’en vais is a variation of the simpler je vais.

You don’t have to start using m’as yourself. Nobody expects a non-native Québécois to use it. Do learn what it means though so you’ll understand it when you hear it. It’s always fine to use je vais. (Note that the Québécois very often say je vas as well, which sounds like je vâ.)

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Below is a random sentence that came up in a Google search. The sentence was posted in an online car forum.

The guy who wrote this sentence was looking for someone who could do touch-ups (faire des retouches, faire des touch-up) to his car’s paint job:

J’veux un gars de confiance, pas un bullshitteux ou un gars qui va botcher mon auto.

I want a guy I can trust, not some “bullshitter” or some guy who’s gonna mess up my car.

It’s a short example, but there’s some interesting stuff to look at here.

Even though gars is spelled with an r and s, be sure not to pronounce those letters. Gars sounds like gâ.

You’ll hear the word gars all the time. For example, in the summer months, you’ll see les gars de la construction busy at work. They’re construction guys.

Un bullshitteux (pronounced boulechitteux) in this example is someone who doesn’t take his work seriously or doesn’t know what he’s doing — a wanker. The guy who wrote this doesn’t want some bullshitteux messing up his car.

Then there’s la bullshit (sounds like boulechite). If someone says something nonsensical or that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, ben… c’est de la bullshit.

C’est de la bullshit ce que tu racontes.
What you’re saying is bullshit.

When the guy talked about not wanting a bullshitteux to mess up his car, he used the verb botcher. It comes from the English verb “to botch.”

C’est un bullshitteux qui va botcher ton auto.
He’s a “bullshitter” who’s gonna mess up your car.
That guy’s gonna do a shit job and mess up your car.

Words used for “car” in Québec are une auto, un char, une voiture. The most informal of the three is un char.

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Yesterday we looked at three uses of the French verb virer:

  • virer fou
  • virer au vert
  • virer à droite

Tu dois faire quelque chose, sinon tu vas virer folle.
You have to do something, otherwise you’ll go crazy.

Mon pied a viré au vert.
My foot turned green.

J’ai pogné un ticket parce que j’ai viré à droite sur une rouge.
I got stuck with a ticket because I turned right on a red.

But we’re not finished with virer yet because Benoît’s comment yesterday made me realise there are a few more good expressions using virer to learn.

Let’s add these expressions then to your knowledge of virer:

  • virer sur le côté
  • virer sur le top
  • virer une brosse

You see that truck in the image? It’s flipped over on the side. We can say:

Le camion a viré sur le côté.
The truck flipped over on the side.

Another expression that immediately comes to mind now is virer sur le top. If a car had completely flipped over and landed on its roof, we might say:

Le char était complètement viré sur le top.
The car was completely flipped over on the top.

Remember how sur le often sounds in colloquial language? Like sul. It’s an informally contracted form of sur le.

Le camion a viré sul côté.
Le char était viré sul top.

Hmm, wonder how that truck flipped over sur le côté? Let’s hope it had nothing to do with drinking and driving…

A few posts ago we saw that the expression être chaud is one way to describe the state of being drunk. But to get to that state in the first place, you have to virer une brosse:

virer une brosse
to get drunk
to get loaded
to get wasted

After you go and virer une brosse, you become chaud.

J’ai viré une brosse au bar pis j’étais trop chaud pour conduire.
I got drunk at the bar and I was too drunk to drive.

Si t’as assez d’argent pour aller virer une brosse, t’as assez d’argent pour un taxi.
If you’ve got enough money to go out and get drunk, you’ve got enough money for a taxi.

So here’s everything you now know about the verb virer:

virer fou
virer folle
to go crazy

virer au vert
virer au jaune
virer au noir
to turn green
to turn yellow
to turn black

virer à droite
virer à gauche
to turn right
to turn left

virer sur le côté
to flip over on the side

virer sur le top
to flip over on the top

virer une brosse
to get drunk

Hold on, not finished just yet.

The expression virer sur le top has a few more uses than just the one above.

Quand j’ai appris la nouvelle, j’ai complètement viré sur le top.
When I heard the news, I totally flipped out (in anger).

Je vire sur le top pour un sac de chips.
I always go crazy for a bag of chips (because I like chips so much).

Faut être viré sur le top pour faire ça.
Ya gotta be totally crazy to do that.

So virer sur le top means to flip upsidedown, both literally and as an emotion.

Oh, just one more thing…

Virer une brosse can also be said as prendre une brosse.

That’s it!

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A char de marde has nothing to do with Arctic char.

It’s the truth; a “char de marde” has nothing to do with Arctic char.

During your ventures into Québécois French, it’s only a matter time before you hear one francophone tell another to go eat un char de marde.

Now, if you had heard this when you were new to French and the way it’s spoken in Québec, perhaps you’d have thought that un char de marde was a strange way of pronouncing un char de mer and ended up thinking it was some sort of culinary delight, like Arctic char.

But I’ll bet you’re a little wiser now and realise that the char in question here tastes less like fish and a whole lot more like shit.

That’s because un char de marde is just that — a load of shit. And although it’s no culinary delight, this doesn’t stop the Québécois from encouraging one another to eat it.

Mange don un char de marde.
Eat a load of shit.

In other words, fuck off. 😀

You might even hear the expression used between friends, perhaps in a toned-down version. For example, if Friend A were teasing Friend B, Friend B could tell Friend A to take a hike by saying this in a playful tone:

Mange don un char!
Eat a load!

It’s understood that the load to be eaten is one of shit.

Of course, instead of mange don un char de marde, one could also simply say mange don d’la marde in a moment of anger, but it’s just not as fun, admit it.

The don in these examples should really be spelled donc, but I use don to remind you to not pronounce the c here.

You’ll also frequently hear this expression used with the verb aller:

Va don manger un char de marde.
Go eat a load of shit.

Je vous invite à aller manger un char de marde. Bon appétit.
I invite you to go eat a load of shit. Bon appétit.

Tu peux ben aller manger un char de marde.
You can just go eat a load of shit.

La prochaine fois qu’il t’appelle, dis-lui d’aller manger un char de marde.
The next time he calls you, tell him to go eat a load of shit.

Instead of just telling someone to go eat un char de marde, perhaps you’re feeling generous and would prefer to actually offer one to somebody? How sweet of you. The expression donner un char de marde à quelqu’un means exactly what it sounds like: to give someone shit (as in to yell at that person, to lecture them, to chew them out).

Le policier m’a donné un char de marde.
The policeman gave me shit.

Je vais l’appeler ce soir pour lui donner un char de marde.
I’m going to call him this evening to give him shit.

Mon ex vient de me donner un char de marde.
My ex just gave me shit.

Le garage était fermé, donc j’ai pas pu aller leur donner un char de marde.
The garage was closed, so I couldn’t go give them shit.

Je vais aller demain donner un char de marde au gérant.
I’m going to go tomorrow to give the manager shit.

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