Posts Tagged ‘chicane’

I heard a few uses of chicane on the radio yesterday. This feminine noun means “fight” or “argument.” In particular, I heard these two usages:

une chicane au bureau
a fight at the office
an argument at work

une chicane de famille
a family fight
an argument in the family

I also heard the verb se chicaner, which means “to fight with one another.” Ils se chicanent. They fight with one another.

In particular, the speaker on the radio said this using se chicaner:

Chicanez-vous pas, là!
Don’t fight, now!
No fighting, now!

The speaker said this to two people who were play-fighting on air.

Grammar books would tell us the way to form this negative construction is ne vous chicanez pas. But that’s not what the speaker said — she did indeed say chicanez-vous pas. This is an informal, spoken construction. It was formed by simply adding pas after the affirmative.

chicanez-vous, fight
chicanez-vous pas, don’t fight

One that you’ll hear often enough in spoken French in Québec following this form is inquiète-toi pas, don’t worry.

inquiète-toi, worry
inquiète-toi pas, don’t worry

Remember, this is felt to be informal. When the rules of written grammar must be followed strictly (like on your exam in your French course), you’d have to write ne t’inquiète pas.

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Here’s some more everyday French overheard in Montréal for you to learn.

1. Elle cherche la chicane.

She wants to a pick a fight.

I overheard a woman say this to her friend. Une chicane is a fight or argument, so chercher la chicane is to go looking for a fight, or to pick a fight with someone.

A quarrelsome person cherche toujours la chicane.

2. C’est à quelle heure, l’autobus?

What time does the bus come?

A lady arriving at a bus stop asked this of a young girl who had already been waiting for a while.

3. Vous avez une très belle chemise!

That’s a really nice shirt!

Here’s a phrase you can use as a conversation starter with someone.

An employee in a shop said this to me when I was wearing my favourite shirt.

4. Un commis à la quincaillerie, merci!

A clerk in hardware, please!

Speaking of employees, this was announced over the loudspeaker by a Canadian Tire employee who was looking for un commis (clerk) in the hardware department.

Commis is pronounced commi. And don’t pronounce those Ls in quincaillerie. The caille part of quincaillerie rhymes with the French word faille.

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