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Posts Tagged ‘cute’

This list of 13 English-derived words used in Québécois French is, of course, nowhere near exhaustive. Even if you choose not to use these words yourself, do learn to understand them to increase your understanding of spoken French.

Caveat lector:

The words below are informal usages in Québec. If you’re required to use standard language (e.g., on a French exam), avoid using these words unless you know what you’re doing. That said, these words are fine to use during informal conversations with francophone friends. For each word, I’ve provided an equivalent in standard Québécois French (SQF) for the times when you need or want to avoid using a colloquial, English-derived one.

1. TOUGH

Pronounced as though written toffe; can be used as an adjective or noun. C’est tough à faire. It’s tough to do. C’est tough à accepter. It’s tough to accept. As a noun, tough means tough guy. Lui, c’t’un tough. He’s a tough guy. (C’t’un is a contraction of c’est un. It sounds like the French word un preceded by st, as though it were st’un.) There’s also the verb tougher, which sounds like toffé. Tougher means to tough out, to put up with. J’ai toughé ça deux mois. I toughed it out for two months. I put up with it for two months. SQF: dur (instead of tough), un dur (instead of un tough) and supporter or endurer (instead of tougher).

2. ROUGH

Rhymes with tough; in other words, it sounds like roffe. J’ai eu une adolescence pas mal rough. I had a pretty rough adolescence. (The part that means pretty here is pas mal. Say these two words together; they form a set expression.) SQF: dur.

3. TOUNE

Feminine noun meaning song, tune. ‘Est tellement bonne, c’te toune-là. That’s such a good song. (‘Est is a contraction of elle est; it sounds like è. C’te is a contraction of cette; it sounds like the French word te with an s sound at the beginning of it, as though it were s’te.) SQF: une chanson.

4. CUTE

Adjective pronounced as though it were spelled kioute. C’est tellement cute! That’s so cute! Y’est tellement cute, ton chien. Your dog’s so cute. (Y’est is a contraction of il est; it sounds like yé.) SQF: mignon.

5. FULL

Adverb meaning very, so. Pronounced like the French word foule. C’est full cute! That’s so cute! C’est full malade! That’s so amazing! The use of full is more typical of younger speakers. SQF: tellement.

6. WEIRD

Adjective pronounced as in English and meaning the same thing. C’t’assez weird, ton affaire. What happened (is happening) to you is pretty weird. Your situation is pretty weird. That’s pretty weird what’s going on (for you). (C’t’assez is a contraction of c’est assez. It sounds like assez preceded by st, as though it were stacé.) SQF: bizarre.

7. GANG

Feminine noun pronounced as in English; used to refer to a group of friends, co-workers. Amène ta gang! Bring your friends along! J’aime ça, sortir en gang. I like going out with friends. Aller souper avec la gang du bureau. To go out for supper with my friends from work. SQF: (mes, tes…) amis, (mes, tes…) collègues.

8. GAME

Pronounced as in English; can be used as an adjective or feminine noun. As a feminine noun, it means the same thing as match, which also happens to be from English. Grosse game à soir! Big game on tonight! As an adjective, it means willing. Es-tu game? You game? You up for it? SQF: un match, une partie (instead of une game); être d’accord (instead of être game).

9. FUN

Masculine noun pronounced as though written fonne. C’est l’fun! This is fun! It’s fun! C’t’un gars l’fun. C’t’une fille l’fun. He’s a fun guy. She’s a fun girl. When used adjectively, fun is preceded by le, which contracts to l’. (C’t’un and c’t’une are contractions of c’est un and c’est une. They sound like the French words un and une preceded by st, as though they were st’un and st’une. Gars rhymes with the French words pas, cas, bas. Don’t pronounce the rs.) On va avoir du fun! We’re gonna have fun! SQF: amusant (as an adjective); s’amuser or avoir du plaisir (instead of avoir du fun).

10. JOB

Feminine noun used literally in the sense of job and also in certain colloquial expressions. Une job d’été. A summer job. J’ai perdu ma job. I lost my job. Ça va faire la job! That’ll do the job! That’ll do the trick! SQF: un emploi, un travail; ça fera l’affaire (instead of ça va faire la job).

11. NAPKIN

A feminine noun meaning napkin, serviette. Amène des napkins! Bring some napkins! Napkin is pronounced as in English, but shift the stress to the final syllable instead. In the plural napkins, the final s isn’t pronounced. SQF: une serviette.

12. TATTOO

Masculine noun pronounced as though written tatou. J’ai un tattoo su’l’mollet. I’ve got a tattoo on my calf. (Su’l’ is a contraction of sur le. It’s pronounced exactly as written, as sul.) SQF: un tatouage.

13. SHIFT

Masculine noun, pronounced as though spelled chiff. It sounds much like the way an anglophone would say shiff, not sheef. Shift de jour, shift de soir, shift de nuit, day shift, evening shift, night shift. J’travaille su’l’shift de soir. I work on the evening shift. (Su’l’ is a contraction of sur le. It’s pronounced exactly as written, as sul.) Shift is sometimes analysed by francophones as being the French word chiffre. This is because shift and chiffre are both pronounced as chiff, at least in colloquial language. This means that, in informal writing written off the cuff (e.g. a text message), you might see chiffre de jour, chiffre de soir, chiffre de nuit, but it’s still pronounced chiff. SQF: un quart (quart de jour, quart de soir, quart de nuit).

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The OffQc guide 1000 Québécois French will help you to increase your vocabulary and knowledge of essential, everyday expressions. It’s a condensed version of the first 1000 posts on OffQc; you can use it to become acquainted with the most important Québécois French vocabulary and expressions for the first time, or to review a large amount of material in less time.

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Here’s more French pulled straight from a conversation. A guy said an equivalent in French of:

That’s so cute!

Do you know how he might’ve said this?

To say it, he used the word cute, which, when used in French, is only heard in colloquial language. It’s pronounced as if it were written kioute in French (i.e., it follows English pronunciation).

Here’s what he said:

C’est don’ ben cute!

Don’ is in fact donc, but the final c isn’t pronounced here. The apostrophe is there to remind you.

Ben sounds like the French word bain. It’s a contraction of bien.

The words don’ and ben are very often used together for emphasis.

C’est don’ ben cute.
C’est don’ ben cher.
C’est don’ ben loin,
etc.

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I grabbed a handful of usages that have appeared on OffQc since post #1000 and put them in a cloud. Can you explain to yourself how each one might be used? You can click on the image for a larger version.

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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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We’ve seen many times on OffQc how ben can be used in the sense of “very” or “really.”

Ben is an informal reduction of bien. It sounds like bain. A better spelling would be bin, and you will in fact sometimes see that. Ben is more common though, and that’s what I’ll use here.

C’est ben loin.
It’s really far.

C’est ben bon.
It’s really good.

C’est ben correct.
It’s really fine.
It’s really no problem.

Remember, ben is used in regular, everyday speaking encounters or informal writing situations (Facebook updates, for example). It’s not used in formal writing. If you see ben used in literature, it’s most likely to only be used in the dialogue portions of the text.

Sometimes you’ll hear ben repeated for emphasis. Some examples pulled from Google results:

C’est ben ben l’fun.
It’s just so much fun.

C’est ben ben plate.
It’s just so boring.

C’est ben ben cute à voir.
It’s just so cute to see.
(Cute is pronounced kioute.)

You’ll also hear it used in pas ben ben:

C’est pas ben ben utile.
It’s really not all that useful.

J’ai pas ben ben le choix.
I really don’t have much of a choice.

C’est pas ben ben clair.
It’s really not all that clear.

Y se force pas ben ben (pour apprendre le français, etc.).
He really doesn’t make much of an effort (to learn French, etc.).

You see? C’est pas ben ben compliqué.

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You know those sponsored ads that show up in your Facebook feed (do I even need to ask)? I’ve pulled seven comments left on those ads by other people for us to look at. Might as well turn those ads into something we can learn from.

I haven’t changed any of the words; the only changes I’ve made are to spelling and punctuation, or I may have included only part of a comment if it was long.

1. On an ad from Zoosk, an online dating site, we find this comment:

C’est d’la marde, ça.
This is shit. It’s garbage.

You’ll hear shit called marde very frequently in Québec!

If it’s crap, c’est d’la marde.

2. On an ad for a 5 km run from Color Vibe, held in different countries around the world, a Facebook user who wanted to participate named a friend in a comment and asked her:

T’es-tu down?
You down? You game?
Do you wanna go?
Do you wanna do this?

We’ve seen in other posts on OffQc that down can be used in the sense of feeling down (depressed). Chu down depuis hier, I’ve been (feeling) down since yesterday. Y’a pogné un down, he’s (feeling) down.

In this Facebook example, down means “to be willing” or “to be up for it” or, like the other informal québécois word that’s been coming up on OffQc lately, game.

T’es-tu game? T’es-tu down?
T’es-tu down pour demain?

This question uses the informal yes-no tu in it. The part that means “you” in this question is the t’. The tu is the part that signals to us that it’s a yes-no question.

3. Then there was this comment on an ad from CarrXpert promoting their body shop repairs:

Fini CarrXpert pour moi, une belle job de cochon sur mon auto.
Never again CarrXpert for me, (they) messed up my car good.

The word job in Québécois French is usually a feminine word in colloquial conversations. Job can refer to employment (for example: j’ai lâché ma job, I quit my job), but not in this example: here, it’s used in the sense of work that was carried out on a car.

4. On an ad from Keurig (they make single-serving coffee brewers that use small disposable cups), a commenter points out the negative effects of their coffee brewer on the environment:

Bravo pour faire plus de déchets! Je préfère ma vieille machine et composter ma mouture sans déchets! Gang de paresseux!
Bravo for making more waste! I prefer my old machine and composting my grounds without making waste! Bunch of lazy people!

The French word gang as used in Québec sounds much like its English equivalent. It’s a feminine noun. It can mean “gang” just like in English (like a street gang), but it’s even more often used in the general sense of a bunch of people — nothing to do with crime.

Ma gang de bureau, my friends from the office, my office group. Gang de caves! Bunch of idiots! Toute la gang est invitée, the whole gang is invited, all you guys are invited.

C'est du pink slime.

C’est du pink slime.

5. In a McDonald’s ad for the quart de livre (quarter pounder) showing an image of a horribly pink, uncooked hamburger patty being weighed on scale (to prove it really does weigh a quarter pound), we find this comment:

Quart de livre de marde rose et blanche.
Quarter pound of pink and white shit.

There’s that marde again!

6. Then there was also this comment on the same McDonald’s ad:

C’est dégueu. T’as-tu vu la couleur?
That’s disgusting. Did you see the colour?

And there’s that informal yes-no question marker again too. The part that means “you” in this question is the t’. The tu signals that it’s a yes-no question.

Dégueu is a short form of dégueulasse.

7. And this comment, again on the same McDonald’s ad:

Moi, du McDo, c’est pas mal fini.
For me, (eating) McDonald’s, it’s pretty much over.

Pas mal is an expression meaning “pretty” or “pretty much.” C’est pas mal cher. It’s pretty expensive. Y’est pas mal cute, lui. He’s pretty cute. J’ai pas mal de livres dans ma chambre. I’ve got quite a few book in my room.

Don’t pause between pas and mal. Say those two words together because they form an expression: c’est / pas mal / cher.

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1. C’est d’la marde, ça.

2. T’es-tu down?

3. Fini CarrXpert pour moi, une belle job de cochon sur mon auto.

4. Bravo pour faire plus de déchets! Je préfère ma vieille machine et composter ma mouture sans déchets! Gang de paresseux!

5. Quart de livre de marde rose et blanche.

6. C’est dégueu. T’as-tu vu la couleur?

7. Moi, du McDo, c’est pas mal fini.

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French-language purists will tell you not to use the words below, but you gotta know ’em if you want to understand the Québécois!

We won’t concern ourselves with the ideas of the purists here. We’ll let them squabble amongst themselves as we get down to the more important work of learning French.

Even though these words are often referred to as anglicismes or as examples of franglais, I don’t see a reason why we can’t just think of them as French words that entered the language by way of English.

That said, it’s important to know that these words are reserved to informal speaking situations. They’re not used in formal speech or writing.

The examples below are not the only way those ideas can be expressed in French. For example, although you’ll hear a tattoo called un tatou in Québec, you’ll also come across the standardised tatouage. In the list below, we’ll just look at ways you might hear things said using a word taken from English.

If you like this list of 31 gotta-knows, there’s also a list of 50 must-knows and a list of 30 full-québécois on OffQc.

If you learn everything in those 3 posts, that’s 111 MB of example sentences uploaded to your brain. And if you learn everything on OffQc, then your brain will definitely need a memory upgrade pretty soon. 🙂

1. Tu m’as fait feeler cheap.
You made me feel bad (about myself).

2. Je badtripe là-dessus.
I’m worried sick about it.

3. J’ai eu un gros down.
I got really down.

4. C’est tough sur le moral.
It’s tough on your morale.

5. C’est weird en masse.
That’s totally weird.

6. Ce médicament me rend stone.
This medication stones me out.

7. C’est tellement cute son accent.
His accent is so cute.

8. Ça m’a donné un gros rush.
It got me all pumped up.

9. Mon boss est venu me voir.
My boss came to see me.

10. À l’heure du lunch, je fais de l’exercice.
I exercise at lunchtime.

11. Ça clique pas entre nous.
We don’t click with each other.

12. C’est pas cher, mais c’est de la scrap.
It’s not expensive, but it’s junk.

13. C’est roffe à regarder.
It’s tough [rough] to watch.

14. Je sais pas dealer avec ça.
I don’t know how to deal with this.

15. J’ai mis une patch sur la partie usée.
I put a patch on the worn-out part.

16. Es-tu game pour un concours?
Are you up for a contest?

17. J’ai rushé sur mes devoirs.
I rushed my homework.

18. Y’a un gros spot blanc sur l’écran.
There’s a big white spot on the screen.

19. Je veux vivre ma vie à full pin.
I want to live my life to the max.

20. Le voisin m’a blasté.
The neighbour chewed me out.

21. J’ai un kick sur mon prof de français.
I’ve got a crush on my French prof.

22. T’as l’air full sérieux sur cette photo.
You look full serious in this photo.

23. Écoute ça, tu vas triper!
Listen to this, you’re gonna totally love it!

24. Viens me voir, j’ai fuck all à faire.
Come see me, I’ve got fuck all to do.

25. J’aime les idées flyées.
I like ideas that are really out there.

26. J’ai pas de cravate pour matcher avec ma chemise.
I don’t have a tie to go with my shirt.

27. Je t’ai forwardé sa réponse.
I forwarded her answer to you.

28. Elle a un gros tatou sur l’épaule.
She’s got a huge tattoo on her shoulder.

29. Ça me fait freaker.
It freaks me out.

30. Merci, on a eu un fun noir!
Thanks, we had an amazing time!

31. J’ai lâché ma job parce que j’étais en burn out.
I quit my job because I was burnt out.

_ _ _

Although I’ve written the examples in this post myself, they were inspired by Maude Schiltz‘s book Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer and by Rabii Rammal‘s blog posts on Urbania, both of which I encourage you to check out.

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