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Posts Tagged ‘France’

In this post, I’ve taken some usages heard in Québécois French that were said by a woman in her 70s in Montréal.

  • faire peinturer

She was talking about getting a room in her house painted; faire peinturer means to have painted, to get painted (by someone else), for example faire peinturer les murs, to get the walls painted. If you look up the verb to paint in the dictionary, you’ll probably find peindre instead. Québécois usage prefers peinturer.

  • quand qu’y’a fermé la porte

Y’a is an informal pronunciation of il a, but there’s also a que slipped in here that maybe you weren’t expecting; it means when he shut the door. You’ll often hear que inserted after quand like this in colloquial language. Another example: quand qu’y’a fini, when he finished.

  • dans ma chambre de bain

She referred to her bathroom as une chambre de bain. In the Grand dictionnaire terminologique, we read something interesting about this term:

Chambre de bains (ou chambre de bain) est souvent présenté comme un calque de l’anglais à éviter, alors qu’il s’agit plutôt d’un terme d’origine française. Le mot chambre était déjà utilisé en ancien français pour désigner une pièce quelconque de la maison.

Par ailleurs, on trouve chambre de bains et chambre de bain chez des auteurs français du XIXe siècle. Ce terme est toujours utilisé dans certaines aires francophones. On en trouve des traces en France et en Belgique, et il est encore en usage au Québec et en Suisse. Il est toutefois en perte de vitesse dans ce dernier pays.

[chambre de bains | chambre de bain] Au Québec, il est surtout relevé dans des contextes de langue courante, tandis que salle de bains et salle de bain sont employés dans toutes les situations de communication.

Chambre de bains (ou chambre de bain) is often considered an anglicism to be avoided, whereas it is in fact originally a French term. The word chambre was already in use in Old French to designate any room of a house [as opposed to pièce].

Furthermore, chambre de bains and chambre de bain were used by certain French authors in the 19th century. This term is still in use in some French-speaking areas. There are still traces of it in France and Belgium, and it is still in use in Québec and Switzerland. It is, however, falling out of use in Switzerland.

In Québec, chambre de bains and chambre de bain are mostly used in colloquial language situations, whereas salle de bains and salle de bain are used in any language situation.

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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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I always look forward to reading the Montreal-based magazine Urbania.

You may remember this magazine from past entries on OffQc, where Urbania authors have devoted issues to themes like lesbiennes and bébés and the hiver québécois.

Right now I’m enjoying the summer 2012 issue of Urbania, #34.

It’s all about… les Parisiens.

From the magazine:

Reason number 2 of 25 for a Québécois to not feel inferior to a Parisian: Nous autres [les Québécois], nos sacres peuvent se décliner en verbes, en adverbes et en adjectifs.1 (Our swear words can be used as verbs, adverbs and adjectives.)

Reason number 15 of 25 for a Québécois to indeed feel inferior to a Parisian: Nous [les Parisiens], à partir de 16 ans, on range le sac à dos et on l’oublie. À jamais. Surtout avec des talons.2 (After age 16, we put the backpack away and forget about it. Forever. Especially with heels.)

Or this from a young Parisian woman named Marion: Quand je vivais à Montréal et que je m’habillais bien, c’était pour mon mec ou pour des garçons en général. À Paris, je m’habille pour mes copines. C’est elles qui portent un jugement.3 (When I lived in Montreal and would dress well, it was for my boyfriend or for boys in general. In Paris, I dress for my girlfriends. They’re the ones who pass judgement.)

In Quebec, you can find the magazine in kiosks. Here’s a list of places where you can find it in Paris.

This issue isn’t a comparison of the Parisians and Québécois. It’s about Parisians and their city. Some comparisons do come through in the writing, however. If you’re interested in reading about Parisians from an engaging québécois perspective, you’ll enjoy it. This issue is written in the usual Urbania style that makes it a pleasure to read.

Urbania also offers some content online. You can find some links to articles and videos related to this issue here.

Quoted material from Urbania, spécial Parisiens, no. 34, été 2012, Montréal.

1Marie-Andrée Labbé, “25 raisons de ne pas se sentir inférieur devant un Parisien,” p.40.

2Anne-Laure Naumowicz, “25 raisons de se sentir inférieur à un Parisien,” p.41.

3Marion, in an article written by Catherine Perreault-Lessard, “Souper de gonzesses,” p.50.

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