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Posts Tagged ‘français de France’

The name of the sixth month — juin — came up in a conversation, and I remembered that the usual pronunciation of this word doesn’t match its spelling.

It’s possible to pronounce juin exactly as written: ʒɥɛ̃

… but you’ll often hear it pronounced instead as: ʒɥœ̃

This means that instead of the in ending being pronounced as the nasal sound in, you’ll often hear it pronounced as the nasal sound un.

What about août? Have you sometimes heard it pronounced with the final t and other times without?

We’ve seen in other posts that, in Québécois French, bout and tout can be pronounced informally as boute and toute, with the final t pronounced. Not so with août — the Québécois pronounce août like ou, with the final t silent.

You might hear someone from France pronounce août as oute, though.

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Is Québécois French more difficult than other varieties of French?

Is Québécois French more difficult than other varieties of French?

Maybe no and maybe so.

By maybe no,
I mean that learning Québécois French is inherently probably just as easy or just as difficult as learning any other variety of French. I’m sure this point can be argued — maybe you’ll disagree by saying that spoken Québécois French has more colloquial contractions than other varieties of French. This may be true, but the good thing is that contractions can be learned.

You can learn that sur la often contracts informally to s’a in colloquial Québecois French in the same way that de le contracts to du in all varieties of French. The finer points of the pronunciation of Québécois French may also make it more difficult for some people than other varieties, but I don’t think I’d qualify the differences as exceptionally more difficult.

I can accept that Québécois French may be inherently somewhat more difficult, but not to the extremes people sometimes suggest. If you’re enthusiastic about learning the French of Québec, you’ll probably find the mechanics of it more or less equally challenging or equally breezy as any other variety of French.

By maybe so,
I mean that the Québécois make learning French more difficult than it has to be. What I write here may sting, but I believe it to be the truth. If Québécois French feels much more difficult to learn than other varieties of French, the Québécois themselves play a role in this.

A learner of French once asked me if the French (the ones from France) and their refusal to accept the validity of other varieties of French were to blame for the absence of good quality learning materials for Québécois French.

No, I’m afraid the French have nothing to do with it. It would be convenient to place the blame on the French, wouldn’t it? But the Québécois are free to publish whatever they like without having to consult with the French first.

I’m sure there are different reasons for the lack of good quality learning materials for colloquial Québécois French — publishers may not consider it lucrative, for example, to produce materials for a smaller variety of French (Québécois) than for a much larger variety (so-called international French).

Then there is the resistance to teaching what some Québécois themselves consider to be an inferior form of French. The colloquial register (or level) of Québécois French is what the Québécois use when they speak amongst themselves, but many Québécois are reluctant when it comes to explicitly teaching that register of French to non-francophones.

In French courses in Québec, the colloquial register of Québécois French is generally not taught to non-francophones. Students are taught the standard form of Québécois French (the register used in the media, for example). It is of course essential that students be taught this register of French, but equally essential — and probably much more immediately practical — would be to teach colloquial Québécois French, words like pogner and niaiser, and how the Québécois ask yes-no questions with tu, immediately come to mind.

As a learner of French and more specifically Québécois French, you are not a helpless bystander. When learning Québécois French, the best thing you can do for yourself is to cultivate persistence. Continue to speak French when the opportunities arise, work on improving your listening skills, model your spoken French on that of the Québécois, and refuse to let certain people convince you there’s something wrong with what you’re working towards.

You may have had to deal with a teacher who disapproves of Québécois French, a commenter online who’s “warned” you against learning Québécois French because it’s “too different,” a speaker of another variety of French who believes Québécois French to sound rural or, sadly, a Québécois person who believes foreigners should not speak like the Québécois. Listen to what they have to say, then move on. There are many Québécois who will support you in your choice to speak Québécois French. Don’t let the ones who try to stand in your way stand in your way. If I did that whenever I heard a negative comment, there’d be no OffQc.

Back to the original question — is Québécois French more difficult than other varieties of French? Probably. But I’ll end with this:

If you learn to understand and speak like the Québécois, you’ll have stood up to many challenges, such as a lack of learning materials, people who’ll try to steer you off course, and bilingual francophones who’ll switch to English on you. Someone who learns Québécois French has learned a lot more than “just” French along the way — patience, persistence and staying on course despite the challenges, to name a few.

Isn’t that impressive?

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You pig. Only a peasant says “mourir.” The correct verb is “trépasser.”

OffQc supports you fully in your quest to learn French. But, hey, let’s be honest — learning French isn’t for everybody.

If you enjoy living a life free of complexes, French is most likely not for you.

French is probably the only language in the world where the vast majority of its speakers consider practically everything said in the language to be incorrect.

You thought you could use the basic verb mourir in France? How innocent of you.

No matter what word you choose to say in any language situation, there will always be a French person only too pleased to scold you:

You pig. Only a peasant says mourir. The correct verb is trépasser. One must demonstrate respect for the French people by speaking our language beautifully. One does not callously say mon chien est mort. One must say mon canidé domestique trépassa.

What, you thought things were better in Québec?

Oh, sure, the Québécois are proud to not be a bunch of square-head anglos, but this doesn’t stop them from sweeping up their language and pushing it under the rug. Remember the expression fucker le chien, the one that the Québécois sometimes use to describe having difficulty doing something?

If you use the expression fucker le chien in Québec, your interlocutor will smile and feel flattered that you used an expression from Québec. Ultimately, however, the linguistic complex written into the DNA of every single Québécois will kick in:

Where did you learn to say that? That’s so funny. Well, it’s true that the Québécois say fucker le chien, but it’s not correct. You should say posséder sexuellement, not fucker. The word chien isn’t really correct either, tsé. You should say canidé domestique. The correct way to say the expression isn’t fucker le chien, but posséder sexuellement le canidé domestique. That’s how they say it in France. You shouldn’t speak bad like us, tsé.

If you suffer from a complex when you speak French, congratulations! You probably speak French rather well.

If you’re still free of any complex when you speak French, you’re most likely new to the language. Welcome, friend.

If you’re somewhere in the middle in the sense that you’ve not yet developed a fully fledged complex but still acknowledge there may be truth to this — and you’re going to press on in French anyway — OffQc salutes you, brave soldier.

If you’re undecided about learning French and none of this sounds terribly appealing, do yourself a favour and learn Spanish instead.

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Sale gosse, Stephen King

Sale gosse (Stephen King)

Janet points me to Stephen King’s new short story called Bad Little Kid in English. In French, the title was translated as Sale gosse.

Now that you know what gosse means in both Québec and France, do you think this title would have been chosen by a translator from Québec for readers in Québec? 😉

A “bad little boy” can also be said as méchant petit garçon in French.

For a québécois flavoured title, how about Le ti-cul qui tue? OK, too cutesy…

_ _ _

Yesterday, on the OffQc Facebook page, I posted this image of a sign seen in the front window of a Tim Hortons restaurant in Montréal.

Boston, on va les manger.

Boston, on va les manger

If you weren’t sure of the meaning of this, you need to know that it refers to two things at once: beignes (donuts) and hockey.

The first meaning is a literal one: eating a donut called the crème Boston in French, or the “Boston creme” in English. This donut is filled with creme in the middle.

The second meaning is an allusion to hockey: that the fans of Montréal’s hockey team (le Canadien) will symbolically eat — and therefore beat — the team from Boston (les Bruins) by eating Boston cremes!

Related reading: Why are the Montréal Canadiens referred to in the singular in French? (#555)

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un gros party à la maison avec la gang du bureau

The OQLF’s name in full is Office québécois de la langue française. Have you ever wondered about the meaning of the masculine word office?

Office is a French word, but it looks just a little like the English word “office,” doesn’t it? The French word office doesn’t come from the English word “office,” though. The OQLF would never dare use an English word in its name!

The French word office comes from Latin, and the English word “office” comes from French.

In the OQLF’s name, office means “bureau” or “agency.” Office québécois de la langue française means “French Language Bureau of Québec” or “French Language Agency of Québec.”

Don’t confuse the French words office and bureau. When you’re talking about the office at the company you work for, use bureau.

Je dois aller au bureau.
I have to go to the office.

Lui, c’est un collègue de bureau.
He’s an office co-worker.

J’ai fait un gros party à la maison avec la gang du bureau.
I held a big house party with my friends from the office.

Remember, la gang in Québec is pronounced like its English equivalent “gang.” In France, gang sounds like “gong,” is masculine, and isn’t used in the sense of a group of friends, like in Québec.

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A little while back, we saw how the feminine word gosses means “balls” or “nuts” in Québec.

Remember, in France gosses are kids; nothing to do with testicles. In Québec, you won’t want to use gosses to talk about kids — not unless the kids you’re talking about are the ones that guys have between their legs.

An expression you’ll hear sooner or later in Québec using the feminine word gosse is: rien que sur une gosse.

What could this possibly mean?

J’ai sacré mon camp rien que sur une gosse.
I got the hell outta there right away.

Chu parti rien que sur une gosse.
I left really fast, as fast as I could, etc.

rien que sur une gosse
really fast, right away, etc.

When people speak informally, you know that certain sounds tend to get swallowed up.

You may hear the expression pronounced as: rien qu’s’une gosse (rienk sune gosse), or even ‘ien qu’s’une gosse (yienk sune gosse).

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‘Gosses’ are definitely not the same thing in Québec and France

If you missed my Facebook update yesterday pointing to a guest post I wrote on Benjamin’s blog French Together, be sure to take a look:

3 funny differences between French in France and in Québec

In that post, one of the things I wrote about was the difference in meaning on either side of the Atlantic of the word gosses.

In France, gosses means “kids” — as in those little people who pee their bed at night and throw spaghetti across the table at suppertime.

But, in Québec, gosses means “balls” — as in those two round things that men sport between their legs and are otherwise known as the family jewels.

Yikes, that’s quite a difference in meaning.

Imagine an angry French father who says:

Touche pas à mes gosses.

The French hear: “Hands off my kids.”
The Québécois hear: “Hands off my balls.”

Oh boy.

All joking aside, the Québécois are fully aware of the European meaning of the word gosses.

If a French person says gosses, his intention is understood by the Québécois, who’ll know he isn’t talking about testicles.

That said, gosses as a feminine noun really is the québécois equivalent for nuts or balls, so it’s best to stick with enfants when talking about kids in Québec.

It must sound funny to the French when they hear the Québécois refer to testicles as “the kids.”

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