Posts Tagged ‘expression’

In a conversation last week, a man in his 50s talked about his computer troubles and that he eventually got the blue screen.

Here’s just a little of what he said:

Je pèse su’l’piton une coup’ de fois… écran bleu… c’est peut-être mon disque qui a foiré…

(So) I press the button a few times… blue screen… it might be my (hard) disk that failed…

1. peser sur le piton

je pèse sur le piton
je pèse su’l’piton
(sounds like je pèse sul piton)
I press the button

In this sense, peser means the same thing as appuyer.

Piton here refers to a button that can be pressed, like on a keyboard, remote control, telephone, etc.

2. une couple de fois

une couple de fois
une coup’ de fois
(sounds like une coupe de fois)
a couple times, a few times

The expression une couple de… only survives in Québec. In the rest of the francophonie, it has fallen out of use. It will obviously remind you of the English expression “a couple (times, weeks, questions, etc.),” which came from French.

You’ll often hear couple pronounced without the -le ending in Québec, making it sound like coupe.

When couple is used in this sense, it’s feminine: une couple de fois, une couple de semaines, une couple de questions, etc.

If couple means “(romantic) relationship,” then it’s masculine: Je ne supporte pas ma belle-mère et mon couple va droit dans le mur. “I can’t stand my mother-in-law and my relationship is tanking.”

3. dzzzzz

Disque is a dzidzu word, so the d in disque makes a dz sound: dzisque.

The word for computer, ordinateur, often gets shortened to ordi during conversations (e.g., mon ordi, my computer). Both ordinateur and ordi are dzidzu words too: ordzinateur, ordzi.

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In an article from the Journal de Montréal called “Pas les moyens de rêver” (3 November 2013), journalist Richard Martineau used three French expressions that borrow a word from English:

1. gérer la shop
2. ça manque de punch
3. passer la moppe

Before the election had come to an end yesterday, Martineau argued in his article that Montréal doesn’t need an ambitious mayor with big projects in mind.

He said that Montréal needs a realistic mayor, someone who can clean up city hall and who knows how to gérer la shop, or “run the place,” like candidate Marcel Côté. The “shop” he was referring to is in fact city hall, l’hôtel de ville.

Martineau admitted that some people probably found Côté’s electoral platform to be lacklustre, ça manque de punch, but that it was also a realistic and prudent one.

Before even thinking about big projects, he said that Montréal needs someone like Marcel Côté to come in and passer la moppe et l’aspirateur dans tous les coins de l’hôtel de ville, or “mop and vacuum every corner of city hall.”

gérer la shop
to run the place

ça manque de punch
it lacks punch
it’s dull

passer la moppe
to mop up

The word shop is feminine: la shop. You may hear this word used to refer to a workshop, for example. But Martineau gave the expression gérer la shop a figurative meaning here. He wasn’t talking about a workshop; he was referring to city hall. We can probably translate the expression here as “to run the place.”

If it’s dull, if it’s got no punch, ça manque de punch. Anything boring could be described this way. A boring idea? A bland dish of food? Ça manque de punch!

The expression passer la moppe was also used figuratively here. Martineau didn’t mean that somebody needs to clean up city hall with a mop and water. He meant that someone needs to put things in order. That said, you can also hear passer la moppe used literally in the sense of washing a floor with a mop and water. When used, moppe is feminine: la moppe.

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During a conversation in French last weekend, a young woman in her 20s used three expressions over and over while speaking:

1. Là, j’étais comme…
2. Moi là…
3. Fa’ que là…

Here’s what they mean (because you’ll definitely be hearing them during French conversations):

  • Là, j’étais comme…

This is similar to the English “then I was (just) like…” used by certain people when telling a story about something that happened.

She pronounced j’étais informally as j’tais. When j collides with t, the j makes a ch sound.

Là, j’étais comme : « De quoi tu parles?? »
Then I was like, “What are you talking about??”

  • Moi là…

She often gave her opinion about something by starting off with moi là. It’s similar to saying “personally” or “as for me” in English.

Moi là, j’aime pas ça.
Personally, I don’t like it.

Sometimes it’s also said with pis (an informal pronunciation of puis) when relating events. It’s just an informal way of saying “and.”

Pis moi là, j’étais comme : « De quoi tu parles?? »
And me, I was like, “What are you talking about??”

  • Fa’ que là…

This is similar to saying “so then” in English, where fa’ que (from fait que) means “so” and means “then.”

Fa’ que là, j’ai dit : « De quoi tu parles?? »
So then I said, “What are you talking about??”

She always said fa’ que là with three syllables, but you’ll also hear it said with two: fak là.

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1. de quoi tu parles?

Confused, a guy asked his friend de quoi tu parles?, or “what are you talking about?” Using the inversion here (de quoi parles-tu?) would sound much less conversational.

2. viens-t’en!

A mother told her child to come to her by saying viens-t’en, “come here.” The opposite (go away) is va-t’en. The infinitive forms are s’en venir (to come along) and s’en aller (to go away). Je m’en viens means “I’m coming.”

3. un esti de gros cave

A guy told his friend that the person they were talking about was un esti de gros cave, or “a big fucking idiot.” Esti is a swear word in Québec. Cave (idiot) isn’t a swear word, but it is an insult.

4. chu allé

During a conversation, my neighbour’s child pronounced je suis allé informally as chu allé. Another informal pronunciation you may hear is chui allé. My young neighbour also got into an argument with an another neighbour. He told her she was crazy: t’es folle!

5. y’a rien de bon icitte

An angry lady in a restaurant said y’a rien de bon icitte, “there’s nothin’ good here.” Some native speakers may find it odd to hear a learner of French say icitte instead of ici. Saying y’a rien de bon ici is perfectly conversational too.

Il y a is generally pronounced as y’a during conversations. In this example, y’a rien is an informal pronunciation of il n’y a rien.

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Following Justin Trudeau’s confession that he’s smoked weed, I collected some vocabulary related to marijuana used in the Québécois media for you to learn.

The examples are linked directly to their source. There’s pronunciation help at the end of this entry.

1. fumer du pot

Justin Trudeau admet avoir fumé du pot il y a trois ans.
Justin Trudeau admits that he smoked pot three years ago.

2. fumer de la marijuana

Justin Trudeau dit avoir fumé de la marijuana.
Justin Trudeau says that he smoked marijuana.

3. allumer un joint

« L’un de nos amis a allumé un joint. »
“One of our friends lit up a joint.”

4. fumer du cannabis

Justin Trudeau a fumé du cannabis «cinq ou six fois» dans sa vie.
Justin Trudeau has smoked cannabis “five or six times” in his life.

5. prendre une puff

M. Trudeau a reconnu avoir «pris une puff» lors d’un souper entre amis.
Mr. Trudeau admitted to having taken a puff at a supper with friends.

6. rendre le pot légal

Faut-il rendre le pot légal?
Should pot be made legal?

7. la légalisation de la marijuana

Trudeau fera de la légalisation de la marijuana un élément de sa plateforme électorale.
Trudeau will make the legalisation of marijuana part of his electoral platform.

8. décriminaliser la marijuana
9. légaliser la marijuana

Le gouvernement Harper a réitéré mercredi son refus de décriminaliser et de légaliser la marijuana.
The Harper government reiterated its refusal on Wednesday to decriminalise and legalise marijuana.

10. essayer le cannabis

Stephen Harper n’a jamais essayé le cannabis.
Stephen Harper has never smoked (tried) cannabis.

The words marijuana, cannabis and pot are interchangeable but, of the three, pot has a more informal feel to it.

If you can say légaliser la marijuana, you can also say légaliser le cannabis and légaliser le pot. If you can say décriminaliser la marijuana, you can also say décriminaliser le cannabis and décriminaliser le pot.

Pronunciation help

  • The final t in pot is pronounced.
  • The final s in cannabis is pronounced.
  • Puff sounds like poffe.
  • Joint is pronounced like a French word.

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