Posts Tagged ‘dzidzu’

During a conversation, a man said in French an equivalent of:

They’re talking nonsense.

To say to talk nonsense, he used the expression dire n’importe quoi. Knowing this, can you now guess how he said it in a colloquial style?

He said:

I’ disent n’importe quoi.

I’, which sounds just like the French letter i, is a contraction of ils. In informal writing, this contraction is more often spelled y.

Do you remember that dire is pronounced by the Québécois as dzir? That’s because the letter d is pronounced dz when it comes before the French i and u sounds. Dire, then, sounds like dzir, and disent sounds like dziz.

N’importe quoi has four syllables — n’im / por / te / quoi. The final e of n’importe is heard.

To say that’s nonsense!, you can say:

C’est n’importe quoi!

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Imagine someone were complaining about a situation. You, unable to do anything about it and frustrated by the person’s complaints, might say to him in English in an indignant tone, “what do you want me to say?”

During a conversation, a guy said an equivalent of this in French to the person with whom he was speaking.

Can you guess how?

Make an attempt, and will look at the answer below. (Clue: More literally, he said the equivalent of “what do you want me to say to you?”)

Rue Sainte-Catherine, à Montréal [février 2016]

Does what you guessed sound something like this?

Qu’est-ce que tu veux que je te dise?

It’s correct, but it’s not quite how he said it. Before we look at how he did say it, let’s look at the expression vouloir que (+ subjunctive) because it’s important to learn.

I want you to leave.
Je veux que tu partes.

I want him to redo it.
Je veux qu’il le refasse.

I want you to be there.
Je veux que tu soies là.

He wants me to learn French.
Il veut que j’apprenne le français.

In sum, to say in French I want you to (verb in infinitive form), you literally say the equivalent of I want that you (verb in subjunctive form).

Let’s go back to our sentence from above.

Qu’est-ce que tu veux que je te dise?

Dise is in the subjunctive.

Remember, though, that this isn’t quite how the guy said it, so let’s look now at how he really did.

In spoken language, je te can contract to j’te. It sounds like ch’te, where the ch sounds like the ch of the French words chaise, choix, tache, etc. To pronounce j’te, then, put the ch sound immediately in front of the word te.

Qu’est-ce que tu veux que j’te dise?

In spoken language, there are times when you might notice that que is omitted. In this case in particular, the guy omitted both instances of que.

Qu’est-ce tu veux j’te dise?

Qu’est-ce on its own without que sounds like quèss, or like kess using an anglicised spelling.

Maybe you’ll remember that the letter d sounds like dz (like the dz sound of the English word lads [i.e., ladz]) when it comes before the French i and u sounds. Dise, then, is in fact pronounced dziz. And maybe you’ll also remember that t sounds like ts (like the ts sound of the English word cats) when it comes before the French i and u sounds. Tu, then, is in fact pronounced tsu.

Using a more phonetic spelling, here’s how what the guy said actually sounds:

Quèss tsu veu ch’te dziz?

And that’s how the guy said it.


To read a condensed version of the French language explored in the first 1000 posts of OffQc, you might like to get a copy of 1000: Québécois French.

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Here’s another example sentence taken from 1000, which has 1000 examples of things you can hear people say in French conversations in Québec:

C’est n’importe quoi!
That’s nonsense! Whatever!

This expression isn’t limited to the French of Québec.

It can also be shortened to just:

N’importe quoi!

The final e of n’importe is pronounced, so n’importe has three syllables (n’im/por/te).

Tu dis n’importe quoi.
You’re saying nonsense.

Écoute-les pas, i’ disent n’importe quoi.
Don’t listen to them, they’re saying nonsense.

You’ll remember that the Québécois pronounce the letter d like dz before the French i sound, so disent from the example above sounds like dziz.

If you want to make your French sound more Québécois, you’ll definitely want to adopt this dz sound. It’s described in the 1000 PDF along with all the example sentences. You can buy it here.

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Here are 3 examples of French using swear words heard in Québec. They’re taken from Facebook comments.

Maudit que t’es beau!
Damn you’re good-looking!
Damn you look good!

C’est pas d’sa faute si c’est un esti d’cave.
It’s not his fault if he’s a fucking idiot.

Maudite marde.
Holy shit. Damn it.

Do you remember how to pronounce maudit like the Québécois? The letter d sounds like dz when it’s followed by the French i sound. (It’s like the dz sound in the English word lads.) So maudit sounds like [modzi], and maudite sounds like [modzit].

In English, you say a fucking idiot, but in French it’s un esti de cave, with de placed between esti (fucking) and cave (idiot). You can’t say un esti cave. In our example above, the de is contracted informally to d’.

C’est un esti d’cave from the example can contract even further: c’t’un esti d’cave, where c’est is reduced to just a st sound before un.

C’est pas d’ma faute means it’s not my fault.

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Here are 5 photos I found lurking on my phone waiting to be commented and put on OffQc! You can click on all the images for the large version.

1. Dans les allées, utilisez un panier

Literally, this means: in the aisles, use a cart, but what we’re meant to understand here is that, while shopping in the store, you shouldn’t place products in your reusable bags; you should place them in a shopping cart. This is to prevent theft.

une allée
aisle (in a shop)

un panier
shopping cart

2. Veuillez garder votre chien en laisse

I saw this sign on the front door of a pet shop. Une laisse is a leash, so management are telling us to keep dogs on a leash when in the shop.

être en laisse
to be on a leash

3. Partagez le plaisir en jouant au tic tac toe avec un ami

This photo is of the side of a box of timbits (small doughnut balls sold at Tim Hortons). The English on the other side of the box read: Share the fun and play tic tac toe with a friend.

A reader of OffQc asked a while back what tic tac toe was called in French, so I took a photo when I saw this.

jouer au tic tac toe
to play tic tac toe

4. Hot-dogs, tout garnis

Over on the right in smaller text are the words tout garnis. A hot-dog that’s tout garni has all the toppings on it.

Another word for hot-dog is roteux, which is an informal usage. Although the term chien-chaud exists (literal translation of hot dog), its use is rare nowadays.

I did manage to catch a photo of the old sign at Chien-chaud Victoire in Montréal before it was finally taken down several years ago.

un hot-dog
a hot dog

tout garni
the works

5. Au diable l’hiver…

This photo was taken in April, just after winter had ended. It’s the front window of a clothing shop, and the words mean to hell with winter, or literally to the devil (with) winter.

au diable l’hiver
to hell with winter

Remember this list of 50 words using the â sound but aren’t actually spelled with the accented â? We could add diable to it. That’s because the a in diable sounds somewhere between the English aw and ow, which is the sound made by â in Québécois French.

If you don’t what â sounds like, you’ll hear Martin Matte pronounce it in this video when he says j’me fâche and tasse-toi. You’ll hear this sound very frequently when listening to French spoken by the Québécois.

But that’s not all…
Diable has a few more things of note in the pronunciation department. One of them is that the d in this word sounds like dz. That’s because d is pronounced dz before the French i and u sounds. (If you say the English words lads, pads and fads aloud, you’ve just pronounced the dz sound. These words sound like ladz, padz and fadz.) This means mardi sounds like mardzi, dur sounds like dzur, and diable like dziâble.

Hold on, not finished yet…
The le ending, like in table or possible, is often not enunciated in informal language. That’s why table can be pronounced informally as tab’, possible as possib’, and diable as dziâb’.

Oh! Just one more thing…
You may hear diable pronounced as ’iâb’ (sounds like yâb), where, in addition to the dropping of the final le, the initial d (or the initial dz sound) also drops. You may hear this pronunciation, for example, in Québécois folk music or folk tales. A similar thing happens when bon Dieu is pronounced as bon ’ieu (sounds like bon yeu). There’s a song by Les Colocs called Bonyeu that you can look for. «Bonyeu, donne-moé une job, faut que j’fasse mes paiements…»

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Here’s an excellent video where Pénélope McQuade speaks slowly. She talks about a teacher she once had and why she appreciates her. Apart from all the vocab, three interesting things to listen for:

1. là-dedans

Listent to how she pronounces là-dedans at 0:44. It sounds like lad-dan, in two syllables. We looked before at how has two different pronunciations depending on how it’s used.

If you don’t remember what they are, you can review that here and here.

2. qu’on avait

When Pénélope says qu’on avait at 1:07, you’ll really hear the liaison. It doesn’t sound like qu’onn / avait; no, it sounds like qu’on / n’avait. That’s because with the liaison, the normally silent or nasalised letter of the first word transfers to the beginning of the next word.

So, you don’t say vouz / avez; you say vou /z’avez. You don’t say lez / autos; you say lé / z’autos. If you pause where you see “/”, you’ll hear the difference. Pénélope pauses between qu’on and avait, allowing the liaison to really be heard.

3. attitude

When she says attitude at 1:55, you’ll also really hear the tsitsu!

(Remember what that is? The tsitsu is a made-up word used on OffQc meant to help you remember that t is pronounced ts before the French i and u sounds. Similarly, the dzidzu reminds you that d is pronounced dz before the French i and u sounds.)

Attitude, then, sounds like a-tsi-tsude. You can’t help but hear the tsitsu when Pénélope says this word in the video; it’s very clear. Maybe you’ll want to try to listen for other examples of the tsi, tsu, dzi and dzu sounds in this video.

Moi, j’étais une étudiante qui ne comprenait pas le système d’autorité. J’ai été élevée dans une maison avec des parents qui m’ont enseigné l’égalité, l’autonomie — physique et intellectuelle. Donc, j’étais une étudiante qui remettait beaucoup en cause le système établi, et la professeure qui m’a démontré qu’effectivement la relation entre un enseignant et son élève devrait d’abord et avant tout être une relation égalitaire pour que les deux puissent s’en bénéficier et grandir là‑dedans (0:44), elle s’appelait Antoinette Taddeo. C’était au secondaire.

C’était une ancienne soeur qui avait défroqué, donc elle-même un peu en révolte contre un certain système. Mais ce qui est intéressant ce qu’elle nous responsabilisait sans avoir à mettre en pratique son autorité. On avait tellement envie de gagner son respect qu’on avait (1:07) une conduite morale et éthique quasi irréprochable, et c’était quelqu’un qui respectait énormément ses étudiants, qui leur donnait une confiance même quand les élèves n’avait pas cette confiance-là en eux-mêmes. Donc, je peux juste respecter quelqu’un qui arrivait à voir à travers nous.

Elle avait vraiment cette capacité-là d’aller chercher chaque personne, et le potentiel de chaque personne et je me suis jamais sentie jugée par elle. Moi, j’étais une élève qui était très provocatrice, qui était une grande gueule, qui aimait choquer pour choquer, et où d’autres professeurs se rebutaient, étaient plutôt réfractaires à mes comportements, mon attitude (1:55), elle a cherché à voir plus loin et à utiliser cette originalité, cette marginalité que j’avais et la mettait en valeur ou m’aidait à la mettre en valeur à travers de l’écriture, par exemple.

Donc, je remercie Antoinette Taddeo d’avoir réussi à ce que finalement je finisse par m’enseigner moi-même certaines grandes leçons de la vie. Alors, pour moi, un enseignant, une enseignante qu’on aime, c’est quelqu’un qui nous enseigne plus que juste la matière, qui nous enseigne aussi à faire confiance aux autres, à se trouver à l’intérieur de soi-même pour trouver des solutions, à se dépasser. Donc, c’est sûr que, y’a [il y a] des choses qu’on apprend là pis qu’on développe qui vont rester avec nous pour toujours.

I was a student who didn’t understand the authority system. I was raised in a home with parents who taught me equality, independence — both physical and intellectual. So I was a student who really challenged the established system, and the teacher who really showed me that the relationship between a teacher and student should be first and foremost one of equality so that both can benefit from it and grow (inside of it) was called Antoinette Taddeo.

This was in secondary school. She was an ex-nun who’d left the sisterhood, so, in a way, even she was challenging a certain system. But what’s interesting is that she taught us responsibility without having to exert her authority. We wanted to earn her respect so much that we almost always behaved morally and ethically, and she was someone who greatly respected her students, who gave them confidence even when those same students didn’t have confidence in themselves. So, I can only respect someone who really managed to relate to us.

She was really good at relating to individuals, understanding an individual’s potential, and I never felt judged by her. As a student, I was a troublemaker, a big mouth, someone who liked to get a rise out of people, and someone for whom other teachers were put off, who disliked my behaviour, my attitude. She tried to see beyond that to put my originality and difference to use, to value it or rather to help me value it, through writing, for example.

So, I thank Antoinette Taddeo for getting me to end up teaching myself certain important life lessons. So, for me, a teacher that you like is someone who teaches more than just the subject at hand, who teaches us to trust others, to find ourselves so that we can find solutions, to outdo ourselves. So, it’s really stuff that we learn and then develop that stays with us for the rest of our lives.

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I’m getting pretty excited — we’re only two posts away from #900, which means #1000 is appearing on the horizon!

How about some random pronunciation stuff today (maybe review for some of you)?


Do you know how the Québécois pronounce nombril (belly button)Nombril is pronounced nom-bri in Québec. The pronunciation nom-bril is heard in France.

If something’s le nombril du monde, it’s “the belly button of the world,” or in idiomatic English: the centre of the universe.


Do you remember how the Québécois pronounce lundi? There’s a dz sound in it: lun-dzi. That’s because the letter d makes a little buzzing dz before the i sound.

Not only will you hear dz in lundi, you’ll hear it in all the names of the days of the week: lun[dz]i, mar[dz]i, mercre[dz]i, jeu[dz]i, vendre[dz]i, same[dz]i, [dz]imanche.

If you want to adopt this yourself, don’t go overboard pronouncing dz. It’s not dzzzzzzzzzzz! Just dz.


If you listen to lots of spoken Québécois French, you know how â sounds (a little like aw). But even if you’re aware of this, you might still be surprised to hear words that you’ve known for a long time pronounced with the Québécois â. Can you say how fâché sounds using the â sound? What about château?

The â sound is shown in API (alphabet phonétique international) as:

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