Posts Tagged ‘English’


Remember the Mansfield gym with their Fuck the excuses posters? Or how about the Be better than your best excuse ones? They’ve got some new posters outside the gym now, these ones suggesting reasons to work out:

Je le fais pour le gâteau double chocolat après le souper!
I do it for the double chocolate cake after supper!

Je le fais pour rester jeune et continuer à jouer avec mes enfants!
I do it to stay young and keep playing with my kids!

Je le fais pour pouvoir encore le faire quand j’aurai 85 ans!
I do it so I’ll still be able to do it when I’m 85 years old!

In the first sign, we’ve got the word souper. Do you remember what the three meals of the day are called in Québec?

le déjeuner, breakfast
le dîner, lunch
le souper, supper

For some (but not all) francophones elsewhere in the world, the three meals are called le petit déjeuner, le déjeuner, le dîner instead. This is the case for Parisians. The Québécois usages aren’t limited to Québec. They’re also used in Belgium and Switzerland.

The Québécois usage of déjeuner for breakfast instead of lunch makes sense. Le jeûne is a period of fasting (not eating). On jeûne through the night, and on déjeune in the morning at the déjeuner. The déjeuner breaks the jeûne.

English and Spanish also use the equivalent of déjeuner: “breakfast” breaks the fast, and desayuno breaks the ayuno.

In addition to le dîner, lunch is also called le lunch in Québec. Une boîte à lunch is a lunchbox. Sur mon heure de lunch means “on my lunch break,” like at work.

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This won't hurt a bit.

This won’t hurt a bit.

The people over at the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) would tut-tut me if they read this, but you can in fact learn some colloquial Québécois French (you know, that really BAD stuff) by using their BDL, or Banque de dépannage linguistique.

The purpose of the BDL is to suggest alternatives to usages the OQLF deems unfit. For example, if we go into the section called Les anglicismes, and then into the subsection Anglicismes intégraux (yes, there are subsections — this is serious business), we find an entry dedicated to the noun rush. We’ll look at what it means in a minute.

On the page for rush, we discover the OQLF considers this noun (and the corresponding verb rusher) to be fautif, or wrong. They provide example sentences using the so-called incorrect word rush (in red), then demonstrate how to rephrase them using OQLF-approved vocabulary (in green).

This condescending approach is detrimental to the French language. Rush and rusher may certainly be inappropriate in formal language, but this does not equate to being outright incorrect in all language situations.

1. Informal language is not inferior language. (Gabe Doyle)

2. Informal language is normal language. (Geoffrey Pullum)

The position adopted by the OQLF is just as misguided as arguing this: “The verb se sustenter is incorrect because it is not used in everyday language. People use manger when speaking normally, therefore se sustenter should be eliminated and replaced by manger in all language situations to encourage comprehension between speakers. Se sustenter does not fill any voids in the language; the perfectly acceptable manger already exists and is used and understood by all speakers.”

That argument is nonsense, of course, and nobody would ever take it seriously. The most we can say about se sustenter is that it’s probably inappropriate in everyday conversations. Why? Because you risk being laughed at for using it, and not because a group of language revisionists working in offices decided it to be so.

Rush and rusher may be inappropriate in formal language, but this doesn’t mean they can’t also be entirely appropriate in everyday conversations. It’s possible (and even necessary) for both to be true without the language falling apart.

Why do we continue to put up with the promotion of language impoverishment? Because, yes, working actively to eliminate certain words despite their obvious utility and richness of nuance (just look at how many different ways rush and rusher were rendered into “correct” French in the BDL) is the promotion of language impoverishment.

Why do we continue to put up with the telling of falsehoods? Because, yes, labelling outright as fautif a word in common usage in the French of Québec is the telling of a falsehood. A manipulative one.

If the OQLF’s revised examples in the BDL were genuinely better, speakers would have already found a way to use them without having to be coerced. Speakers choose to use words that convey what they need them to convey.

The OQLF’s position is detrimental to French: it leads people to apply a negative judgement to something that was never problematic to begin with. Unless you believe the anglophone world to be the Great Satan, there’s nothing inherently wrong with using a word that entered French by way of English. All words come from somewhere.

Let’s (finally!) look at the noun rush and verb rusher. I’ll take some of the “bad” examples of usage from the BDL and put them below, with a translation into English. I won’t include all the examples because some of them aren’t terribly useful, and I won’t include the OQLF’s “cleaned-up” versions either. If you’d like to read them, you’ll find them here on the page for rush.

I take no issue with providing alternative ways of wording sentences, as the OQLF does. We can all benefit — native speakers and learners alike — from learning how to rephrase our thoughts to fit the circumstances. The examples provided by the OQLF can in fact be useful to francophones when writing.

What I take issue with is the notion that an informal word borrowed from English is necessarily inferior and dangerous to the French language. Is the vitality of French so precarious that it requires these kinds of interventions, attempting to amputate certain words from the language as if they were infected with gangrene? I don’t believe so, and not by a long shot.

Or perhaps a better parallel would be to compare words borrowed from English to physical imperfections. Maybe you can get away with a little nip here, and a little tuck there. But if you keep going, you end up with trout pout. Thanks, but no thanks. I’ll take the real thing no matter how “imperfect.”

The noun rush is pronounced roche.
The verb rusher is pronounced roché.

Here are examples from the BDL:

le rush, un rush

C’est déjà le rush du temps des fêtes dans les magasins.
The holiday rush is on in the stores.

Le musée a connu un rush de visiteurs lors de sa dernière exposition.
The museum had a rush of visitors at the last exhibit.

Le rush du retour à la maison m’a paru interminable.
The [after-work] rush home seemed endless to me.


J’ai rushé sur mes travaux scolaires de fin de session.
I rushed my end-of-term school assignments. I worked hard to finish them.

Lise a rushé pour avoir le poste d’adjointe à la direction.
Lise went to a lot of work to get the job of assistant manager.

L’entrepreneur a rushé la construction de l’immeuble avant l’arrivée des grands froids.
The contractor sped up the construction of the building before the cold set in.

Comme chaque année, les employés du magasin vont rusher le jour des soldes de l’Après-Noël.
Like every year, store employees are going to have a lot of work during the Boxing Day sales.

In fact, the term Boxing Day is still heard in Québécois French (the Boxing Day tradition traces back to the British), alongside the OQLF-approved term soldes de l’Après-Noël. So you might catch someone saying that last example as:

Comme à chaque année, les employés du magasin vont rusher le jour du Boxing Day.

You’re probably so observant that I failed to sneak in that à this time without you noticing, didn’t I?

comme chaque année
comme à chaque année

What’s the difference between the two? There’s no difference in meaning whatsoever. But in regular conversations with the Québécois, I bet you’ll hear the second one, comme à chaque année.

In fact, you may even catch someone use comme à chaque année (or one of the other examples below) in formal language too. Why? Well, because it sounds perfectly normal! Alas, the Grammar Police disagree and insist the preposition à here must go, ‘cos, you know, it’s like a big deal or something.

à chaque jour = chaque jour,
à chaque semaine = chaque semaine,
à chaque minute = chaque minute,
à chaque fois = chaque fois,

À chaque fois que je visite le site de l’OQLF, je commence à shaker.
Everytime I visit the OQLF website, I start to shake.

As a learner of French, it’s best to say things the way people you associate with say them. The advice from the OQLF is meant for native speakers, who can either take it or leave it. I suggest you take your cue from francophones in your own age and social group, rather than from sources like the BDL. And if you are indeed going to use something like the BDL, take what you find there with a grain of salt.

Let’s finish up by looking at a usage the OQLF didn’t touch on: the expression c’est rushant.

C’est rushant, cinq enfants.
Five kids — it’s a lot of work.

Maudit que c’est rushant le rôle de maman.
Damn it’s a lot of work being a mother.

La première fois, c’est rushant. La deuxième fois, c’est du gâteau.
The first time is hard. The second time is a piece of cake.

Rushant is pronounced rochant.

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“Go back to the cuisine immediately and finish making the Chinese patty, Rupert. On way. ON WAY!”

Rupert and Samantha are two anglophone Canadians who live in a parallel universe.

In this parallel universe, Rupert and Samantha speak a variety of English that has borrowed and adapted vocabulary from Québécois French. Their English also conserves usages that have fallen out of use elsewhere in the English-speaking world.

In part 1, Samantha pawnied a hen’s nest on the roo (hit a pothole on the street). Her husband, Rupert, pawnied a cold (caught a cold) after a gross cave externated on him (a big idiot sneezed on him). If you haven’t read part 1 yet, you’ll probably want to read that first.

Here’s part 2. In this part, Rupert and Samantha are in a chicken (in a fight) because the chariot (car) won’t start. Does it have something to do with the hen’s nest that Samantha pawnied? Read on to find out.

Oh, and yes, Rupert and Samantha look a little different this time. That’s because this is a parallel universe and just whatever.

Have fun deciphering the dialogue!

Rupert and Samantha are in a chicken

  • Rupert! Art thou occupied?
  • I’m still in the cuisine, Samantha. I’m preparing delicious Chinese patty for supper.
  • Oh tabernacle, not Chinese patty again… Rupert, come look at the chariot. Ever since I pawnied that hen’s nest out there on the roo, I’ve been having misery to start the chariot.
  • Are thou nezzing me?
  • Pawn toot. I’ve been fucking the dog on mass.
  • Achooom!
  • Oh hesty, Rupert. I want not to pawnie thine cold. Cover thine mouth.
  • Samantha, thou knowest I pawnied a cold while out magazining in the formiddy. ‘Tis not my fault if some hesty of a gross cave externated on me.
  • Crucifix, Rupert. Just look at the chariot.
  • Samantha, I am looking at the chariot. Hast thou made the plain?
  • Bang sure not. I thought thou hadest made the plain.
  • Oh frankly, Samantha. I’m tanned of reminding thee to make the plain. Look, there’s no gauze in the tank. How thinkest thou to start the chariot without gauze? Verily, it astonishes me not thou hast been fucking the dog.
  • Shit of fuck of shit, Rupert. Just go back to the cuisine. I’ll get the other chariot and syphon gauze out of it with my mouth.
  • Oh… Hast thou not the bitch to syphon gauze using the mouth?
  • I’m not some hesty of a useless moomoon, Rupert. I know how to syphon gauze using the mouth.
  • Art thou insinuating that I be a moomoon, Samantha?
  • Oh verily, I have not the taste to talk about this pawn toot! Let me occupy myself of the chariot. Go back to the cuisine immediately and finish making the Chinese patty, Rupert. On way. ON WAY!
  • Aye, aye, Samantha, ’tis correct…

_ _ _

in a chicken: en chicane (in a fight)
art thou: es-tu (are you)
occupied: occupé (busy)
the cuisine: la cuisine (the kitchen)
Chinese patty: pâté chinois (shepherd’s pie)
oh tabernacle: oh tabarnak (oh fuck)
the chariot: le char (the car)
to pawnie a hen’s nest: pogner un nid-de-poule (to hit a pothole)
the roo: la rue (the street)
I’ve been having misery: j’ai de la misère (I’ve been having difficulty)
to nezz: niaiser (to kid)
pawn toot: pantoute (not at all)
to fuck the dog: fucker le chien (to have difficulty)
on mass: en masse (big time)
hesty: esti (fuck)
to pawnie thine cold: pogner ton rhume (to catch your cold)
thou knowest: tu sais (you know)
to magazine: magasiner (to shop)
in the formiddy: dans l’avant-midi (in the late morning)
’tis not: c’est pas (it’s not)
a gross cave: un gros cave (a big idiot)
a hesty of a gross cave: un esti de gros cave (a big fucking idiot)
to externate: éternuer (to sneeze)
crucifix: crucifix (fuck)
hast thou: as-tu (have you)
to make the plain: faire le plein (to fill up on gas)
bang sure not: bien sûr que non (of course not)
thou hadest: tu avais (you had)
I’m tanned: je suis tanné (I’m fed up)
of reminding thee: de te rappeler (of reminding you)
gauze: gaz* (gas, petrol)
how thinkest thou: comment penses-tu (how do you think)
verily: vraiment (really, honestly)
shit of fuck of shit: shit de fuck de shit (holy fuckin’ holy shit)
to have the bitch: avoir la chienne (to be afraid)
a moomoon: une moumoune (a sissy, suck, wimp)
I have not the taste: j’ai pas le goût (I don’t feel like)
let me occupy myself of: laisse-moi m’occuper de (let me take care of)
on way: enweille (get a move on)
aye, aye, ’tis correct: OK, OK, c’est correct (OK, OK, fine)

*Gaz is pronounced gâz in Québec. The French â sound in Québec comes close to how “aww” sounds in English. This is why Rupert and Samantha say gauze.

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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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“Aye, the roos are always mardy after winter. Unless thou restest in Montréal, bang sure. Then they’re mardy all year long. Ha ha ha!”

Imagine a parallel universe where the English language spoken in Canada had been influenced by Québécois French, and where it also conserved certain linguistic features that had fallen out of use in other English-speaking parts of the world.

What might that variety of English sound like?

Rupert and Samantha

  • Rupert, I’m home!
  • I’m in the cuisine, Samantha!
  • Ah, there thou art. Crucifix! I pawnied a hesty of a hen’s nest out there on the roo. I almost scrapped the chariot!
  • Aye, the roos are always mardy after winter. Unless thou restest in Montréal, bang sure. Then they’re mardy all year long. Ha ha ha!
  • May’s on! Verily thou art funny, Rupert. But ’tis donbe true — those Montréal roos are full purrent! At least here in Toronto the roos are less posh.
  • A-a-a-a-chhhoom!
  • Oh tabernacle, Rupert! Tell me not thou hast another cold!
  • Aye, some hesty of a gross cave externated on me when I was out magazining in the foremiddy.
  • Art thou nezzing me? Now I’m tanned, I am. Every time thou pawniest a cold, thou hast such misery getting over it. Oh hesty, Rupert!

_ _ _

the cuisine: la cuisine (the kitchen)
thou art: tu es (you are)
crucifix!: crucifix! (goddammit!)
to pawnie a hen’s nest: pogner un nid-de-poule (to hit a pothole)
a hesty of a hen’s nest: un esti de nid-de-poule (a goddamn pothole)
the roo: la rue (the street)
to scrap the chariot: scraper le char (to wreck the car)
aye: oui (yes)
mardy: de la marde (shitty)
to rest in Montréal: rester à Montréal (to live in Montréal)
bang sure: bien sûr (of course)
May’s on!: mets-en! (you can say that again!)
verily: vraiment (truly)
’tis donbe true: c’est donc ben vrai (it’s just so true)
purrent: épeurant (scary)
posh: poche (crappy)
tabernacle!: tabarnak! (fuck!)
tell me not: dis-moi pas (don’t tell me)
thou hast: tu as (you have)
a gross cave: un gros cave (a big idiot)
a hesty of a gross cave: un esti de gros cave (a goddamn big idiot)
to externate: éternuer (to sneeze)
to magazine: magasiner (to shop)
in the foremiddy: dans l’avant-midi (in the [late] morning)
to nezz: niaiser (to kid)
tanned: tanné (fed up)
to pawnie a cold: pogner un rhume (to catch a cold)
thou hast misery: tu as de la misère (you have trouble)
hesty!: esti! (goddammit!)

Does this maybe remind you of what Québécois French might sound like to European francophones?

Obviously I’m nezzin’, and the dialogue above is highly exaggerated. But what’s interesting is that it still feels like English — a very different variety of English, but still English.

It’s no secret that Québécois French has borrowed words from English and often transformed them into something unique. It also conserves French usages that francophones abroad have stopped using.

A regular, spontaneous dialogue of the same length in Québécois French wouldn’t sound as exaggerated as the one above.

That said, Québécois French really is different to other varieties abroad — but it’s still French nonetheless, hesty!

_ _ _

Read part 2 of Rupert and Samantha

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