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Posts Tagged ‘gratteux’

I went through the last dozen posts on OffQc, pulled out key expressions and vocabulary, then rearranged it all into this dialogue for review. (If you squint your eyes and plug your nose, it almost sounds like a real dialogue, with a surprise ending and all.)

Enweille! Qu’est-ce tu fais? C’est pas l’temps d’niaiser!
J’gratte ma guitare, man…
— Ah, c’est l’fun, hein?
Pas tant qu’ça. J’file pas… J’peux-tu t’bummer une smoke?
— Euh… non.
T’es ben gratteux, toé. Enweille, donne-moé une smoke. J’te niaise pas. J’ai un paquet d’problèmes! Mon restaurant spécialisé en grilled cheese a été vandalisé.
— Ah, ok. Bon ben… c’est pour ici ou pour emporter?
— Quoi?
Tes Timbits, c’est pour manger ici ou pour emporter?
— Ah, ouais… mes Timbits… euh, pour emporter… merci…

— Come on! What’re ya doing? Quit wasting time!
— Strummin’ my guitar, man…
— Ah, that’s fun, huh?
— Not really. I’m not feelin’ good… Can I bum a smoke off ya?
— Uh… no.
— You’re so cheap. Come on, give me a smoke. I’m not kidding. I’ve got a whole bunch of problems! My restaurant specialised in grilled cheese was broken into.
— Ah, ok. Right so… is it for here or to go?
— What?
— Your Timbits, are they for here or to go?
— Oh yeah.. my Timbits… uh, they’re to go… thanks…

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In the last post, we looked at the expression un paquet de gens, used in an article in the Montréal edition of 24 Heures.

There’s more language to look at from that same edition of the newspaper. A different article bears this title:

«Facebook a starté la personne musicale que je suis»

[Source: «Facebook a starté la personne musicale que je suis» (Camille Dufrétel), 24 Heures Montréal, 13-15 mai 2016, vol. 16, no. 44, p. W30.]

The title is in fact a quote said by a musician called Maryanne Côté, who, as the title suggests, got her start on Facebook.

The verb starter is clearly a borrowing from English, and a colloquial usage, which is why the editors chose to put it in italics.

In English, what Côté said literally means: Facebook started the musical person I am, or more naturally: I got my start in music on Facebook.

Elsewhere in the article, we also read:

[Côté] gratte la guitare […] depuis quelques années.

In a past post, we looked at some different ways gratteux might be heard in Québécois usage. For example, un gratteux is a scratch-and-win lotto ticket, and a person described as being gratteux is stingy, tight with money.

Gratteux is obviously related to the verb gratter, used in today’s quote. Gratter literally means to scratch, but the expression gratter la guitare is used in the sense of to play/strum the guitar.

(By the way, if you’re going to use jouer, the expression is jouer de la guitare — don’t forget the de. Similarly: jouer de la flûte, jouer du violon, jouer du piano, jouer de la musique, etc.)

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The OffQc book Contracted French will help you to make sense of the most frequently used contractions heard in spoken language and increase your understanding of what francophones are saying to you. You can buy and download it here.

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I grabbed a handful of usages that have appeared on OffQc since post #1000 and put them in a cloud. Can you explain to yourself how each one might be used? You can click on the image for a larger version.

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In entry #952, we saw a wall ad from the Yellow Pages in métro McGill (image on right). The ad is promoting a phone app that helps people to find businesses in the area.

In the ad, the French word pointe is used in reference to both rush hour and slices of pizza. You can go back and read the post about here, if you missed it.

In fact, métro McGill is currently plastered from one end of the platform to the other with yellow ads from the Yellow Pages.

Here’s another one that contains some Québécois usages.

A little sign on the wall reads:

Vous vous sentez gratteux?

We saw the word gratteux recently, in entry #943. There, we looked at how the adjective gratteux can be used in the sense of cheap or stingy, whereas the masculine noun gratteux refers to a scratch-and-win lottery ticket.

On either side of this little sign is a larger sign.

(The little sign that reads vous vous sentez gratteux? is in the middle of the two signs above, but you can’t see it in this image because it’s dark.)

The sign to the left of the little one reads:

2 friperies pour vous habiller à petit prix

And the one to the right reads:

88 dépanneurs pour acheter un billet de loterie

So the question vous vous sentez gratteux? takes on two different meanings here.

Vous vous sentez gratteux?
2 friperies pour vous habiller à petit prix
Feeling stingy?
2 second-hand clothes shops to buy cheap clothes

Vous vous sentez gratteux?
88 dépanneurs pour acheter un billet de loterie
Feeling ‘scratch-and-win’?
88 dépanneurs to buy a lottery ticket

That’s a lot of vocab in these past two posts, so here’s a review of it:

l’heure de pointe, rush hour
c’est l’heure de pointe, it’s rush hour
une pointe de pizza, a slice of pizza
une pointe aux champignons, a mushroom slice (of pizza)
gratteux, cheap, stingy
un gratteux, a scratch-and-win lottery ticket
gratter, to scratch
un dépanneur, a small shop selling snacks, milk, newspapers, cigarettes…
une friperie, a second-hand clothing shop

Yes, no, toaster!

There’s yet another sign from the Yellow Pages in métro McGill that reads:

«Yes, no, toaster!»
Votre anglais est limité? Il y a 61 écoles de langue à Montréal.
“Yes, no, toaster!”
Don’t speak much English? There are 61 language schools in Montréal.

What’s up with the yes, no, toaster bit in this ad?

Yes, no, toaster is an expression – it’s not something the Yellow Pages made up. It’s a facetious way of pointing to a person’s minimal knowledge of English (i.e., the only English that person knows is yes, no and toaster).

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We’ve seen before that un gratteux is a scratch-and-win lottery ticket (the ones where you scratch with your finger or a coin to reveal a prize… or not).

But gratteux can also be used as an adjective, like in this La Presse headline:

10 astuces pour voyageurs gratteux

Can you maybe guess what gratteux means here by reading the photo caption below that accompanies the article?

Une des bonnes façons d’économiser de l’argent consiste à voyager en groupe. On diminue alors les frais d’hôtel, de location de voiture, d’essence, etc.

A good way to save money is by travelling in groups. You’ll save money on hotel fees, car rentals, gas, etc.

Source:
Pierre-Olivier Fortin, “10 astuces pour voyageurs gratteux,” La Presse, 29 December 2012.

Someone who’s gratteux is cheap, stingy.

J’ai eu un chum qui était ben gratteux.
I had a boyfriend who was really cheap.

Y’a dû me trouver ben gratteux de faire ça.
He must’ve thought I was really cheap for doing that.

Les plus riches sont les plus gratteux.
The richest people are the stingiest.

Someone who’s cheap can also be called… cheap.

The word astuces from the headline above means tips (10 astuces, 10 tips). In the photo caption, location means rental — it doesn’t mean location. The English word location is emplacement, endroit, etc.

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