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Posts Tagged ‘cogner des clous’

If you take the métro in Montréal, I’m sure you’ve seen some new ads for an energy gum with images of people’s faces all scrunched up. Here are two of them.

What does the text on them mean?

One of the ads says:
Avant de frapper ton mur!

Another one says:
Avant de cogner des clous!

These ads are for an energy gum, so the text in both is telling us that we can chew it if we need a boost. More specifically, avant de frapper ton mur literally means before hitting your wall (i.e., before you reach the point where you can’t go on anymore); avant de cogner des clous literally means before striking nails (i.e., before you nod off to sleep).

frapper son mur
to reach one’s breaking point
to not be able to go on
to get stopped in one’s tracks

This explains why the people in the ads have their faces all scrunched up — they’ve “hit their wall.” The expression frapper un mur also exists, used in the sense of to hit an obstacle.

cogner des clous
to nod off to sleep

Think of a commuter on public transport — his head is bobbing up and down as he falls asleep, wakes up, falls asleep, wakes up… It’s as if his head were a hammer striking nails.

Cogner rhymes with the informal verb pogner that we’ve looked at many times on OffQc. They sound like [kɔɲe] and [pɔɲe]. You can hear pogner pronounced here in this video.

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You’ll definitely want to check out this tumblr:

Notre Québec : Un crayon français, des mots québécois

French tumblr-er MarieBee (real-life Marie-Bénédict Jacquemin) picks a Québécois French expression and puts it into a deliciously sketched image.

When you mouse over the image, its definition appears.

She’s drawn some expressions that we’ve already seen on OffQc, like:

Y cogne des clous
He’s nodding off to sleep
Review on OffQc here

Eille, casse-toi pas le bécik!
Hey, don’t complicate things on yourself!
Review on OffQc here

Y’est parti y’inque s’une gosse
He left lickety-split
Review on OffQc here

Tire-toi une bûche
Pull up a seat
Review on OffQc here

Il a eu la chienne
He took a fright
Review on OffQc here

An expression we haven’t looked at is c’est pas chaud pour la pompe à l’eau, explained as such: se dit d’un climat qui est frisquet au point d’être perceptible pour les organes génitaux. [!]

Thanks to Maude for pointing me to this.

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If you take public transport, at some point you’ve seen a tired passenger trying to fight off sleep while commuting home.

His head drops, he wakes back up, his heads drops again, he wakes back up…

This little passenger below gives a good demonstration!

In French, un clou is a nail, and banging in nails is cogner des clous.

OK, but what’s that got to do with sleepy passengers?

Think of the motion made by the head of someone who’s trying to fight off sleep. Up, down, up, down… It’s like the head is a hammer, banging in nails.

That’s why that little guy in the video above and those sleepy passengers on the métro are all doing what’s referred to in Québec as cogner des clous!

They’re not literally banging in nails like the expression cogner des clous suggests. Instead, they’re fighting off sleep.

cogner des clous au volant
cogner des clous en conduisant
to nod off at the wheel, while driving

cogner des clous au travail
to nod off to sleep at work

Il cognait des clous devant la télé.
He started falling asleep in front of the TV.

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