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Posts Tagged ‘idiot’

In entry #815, we saw an image of a sign from la SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec) in a bus shelter. The masculine term pouche-pouche was used on that sign, which refers to a spray bottle.

The ad told us we could stay cool this summer by spraying mist on ourselves with a pouche-pouche, or we could head over to the SAQ to make a purchase:

Aspergez-vous de bruine en pouche-pouche ou passez à la SAQ
Spray yourself with mist from a spray bottle or visit the SAQ

If you click on the first image, you’ll see it full-size.

The second image is a new one. It’s another sign from the SAQ on the same theme of keeping cool. The sign reads:

Retournez dans le sous-sol chez vos parents ou passez à la SAQ
Go back to your parents’ basement or visit the SAQ
(i.e., move back into your parents’ basement or visit the SAQ)

The sign is telling us that we can keep cool by moving back into our parents’ basement or that we can visit the SAQ to make a purchase.

The basement of a house, or le sous-sol, is much cooler than the rest of the house. It’s also the place where some not-so-young-anymore people live when they haven’t moved away from home yet…

In addition to le sous-sol, learn the word la cave. The cave of a house is also its basement. It looks like the English word “cave,” but be sure not to pronounce it like that. It’s a French word, so it rhymes with bave.

dans le sous-sol de tes parents
dans la cave de tes parents

in your parents’ basement

In fact, we saw the word cave in the sense of basement in entry #776, where it was used as part of an informal expression unique to Québec:

avoir de l’eau dans la cave
to be wearing pants that are too short
(literally, to have water in the basement)

If you’ve got a flooded basement, you’d roll up the bottom part of your trousers to avoid getting them wet when walking around.

Someone who wears pants that are too short for his legs looks a little like someone who’s got water problems at home in the basement!

Remember, dans la has a tendency of contracting in informal speech. This is sometimes shown in writing as dans’ or dan’. (The la kind of gets swallowed up.) This means you might hear dans la cave de tes parents pronounced as dans’ cave de tes parents. Similarly, the informal expression avoir de l’eau dans la cave can sound like avoir d’l’eau dans cave.

The word cave has another meaning in Québec, but it’s unrelated to basements: it can also mean “stupid,” “idiot.”

Prends-moi pas pour un cave!
I’m not stupid, you know!
(literally, don’t take me for an idiot)

Arrête de faire le cave!
Stop acting like an idiot!

C’est un gros cave.
He’s such an idiot.

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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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