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Posts Tagged ‘je suis’

On the radio, there’s an audio clip taken from a television show being used for promotional purposes. In the audio clip, the character from the television show can be heard saying:

Je suis dégoûtée de comment qu’on a pas protégé mes enfants.
I’m disgusted by how my children weren’t protected.

There are a few things I wanted to point out about the language in this quote:

1. Comment que was used instead of just comment. This can be heard frequently in spoken language. You saw this before in a past post where a speaker used comment que and quand que, instead of just comment and quand. She said:

quand qu’y’a fermé la porte
(an informal variation on quand il a fermé la porte)
when he closed the door

comment qu’y pensaient
(an informal variation on comment ils pensaient)
how they used to think

2. On a pas from the quote is an informal equivalent of on n’a pas, but they both in fact sound exactly the same. (I could’ve written on n’a pas in the quote above, but ne is almost always dropped in informal language — even if, here, including it or not including it makes no difference to the pronunciation of the quote.)

3. You know now that je suis frequently contracts to j’su’ in spoken language (sounds as if it were written chu in French — the ch sounds like the ch in chez). But the speaker here did in fact use the full je suis, and not a contraction of it. That’s because she wanted to stress what she was saying. By using the full je suis, she was able to emphasise her words more, which helped to convey her anger. Maybe we can compare it to the way an angry parent calls a child by his full name when he’s in trouble!

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In the videos I’ve posted to OffQc lately, quite a few informal contractions have come up. It’s imperative to learn these contractions to understand spoken French.

I’ve pulled together a list of these contractions; there’s a link for each one that will take you back to the video where it appeared so you can listen again and learn it.

Here’s something you can try. The sentences below have been written without contractions. Try to say them aloud applying whatever informal contractions are possible from the ones above.

Je suis bien content.
Tu n’es pas tanné?
Je l’ai croisée sur la rue.
Des fois je me fâche.
Il y en a qui disent ça.

Answers

J’su’ ben [chu bin] content. I’m really happy.
T’es pas tanné? You’re not fed up?
Je l’ai croisée s’a rue. I bumped into her in the street.
Des fois j’me fâche. Sometimes I get angry.
Y’en a qui disent ça. Some people say that.

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Another example of French overheard in Montréal today; someone said in French the equivalent of “I’m on break” (as in a break at work).

Do you know how the person might have said this informally in French?

First thing to know: to be on break is être en pause.

This gives us je suis en pause.

Do you remember how je suis en can be pronounced informally? It can contract to j’t’en, which sounds like ch’t’en. (The ch sounds like ch in chaise.)

This happens when je suis contracts to j’s’, which sounds like ch. Between the ch sound and en, a t sound then got slipped in to ease pronunciation.

So the speaker said:

J’t’en pause.
(sounds like ch’t’en pause)

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Yesterday we looked at how je suis can contract when the next word begins with a vowel. For example, je suis en maudit can contract to j’t’en maudit, where j’t’en sounds like ch’t’en.

Let’s look at another informal contraction containing je now.

Je me suis can contract to j’me su’s (sounds like jme su).

J’me su’s posé une question.
I asked myself a question.

C’est bon, que j’me su’s dit.
It’s good, I said to myself.

J’me su’s payé la traite.
I treated myself.

J’me su’s couché tard.
I went to bed late.

Review. Say what all of the following are informal contractions of:

  • j’t’en (sounds like ch’t’en)
  • j’t’à (sounds like ch’t’à)
  • j’t’un (sounds like ch’t’un)
  • j’t’allé (sounds like ch’t’allé)
  • j’pas (sounds like ch’pas)
  • j’me su’ (sounds like jme su)

Answers

  • je suis en
  • je suis à
  • je suis un
  • je suis allé
  • je (ne) suis pas
  • je me suis

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We’ve seen how je suis can contract to what sounds like chu at the informal level of language. But when the next word after chu begins with a vowel, an additional change can occur.

The expression en maudit, for example, means mad as hell, pissed off. Je suis en maudit. I’m mad as hell. I’m pissed off.

But when we apply an informal pronunciation to je suis en maudit, it can sound like ch’t’en maudit. What’s going on here?

The ch sound in ch’t’en is a contraction of je suis. Then a t sound is slipped in before en, which begins with a vowel.

So that’s how je suis en can end up being pronounced as ch’t’en, which you might see written informally as j’t’en.

Can you now say how the following might sound informally?

Je suis en train de…
I’m in the process of…

Je suis en forme.
I’m in shape.

Je suis en burn-out.
I’m burnt out. (Burn-out is pronounced as in English but with the stress on the last syllable.)

Je suis à boutte!
I’ve had it!

Quand je suis arrivé à Montréal…
When I arrived in Montréal…

Je suis allé fumer une cigarette.
I went to smoke a cigarette.

Answers
ch’t’en train de
ch’t’en forme
ch’t’en burn-out
ch’t’à boutte
quand ch’t’arrivé
ch’t’allé fumer

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Do you remember chu, that informal pronunciation of je suis used in Québécois French?

je suis > j’suisj’su’s = sounds like chu

Sometimes you’ll also see chu spelled as chus. Either way, it sounds like chu. But what about chu-tu? What does it mean in the questions below?

Chus-tu la seule à faire ça?
Chu-tu en train de virer fou?

If chu means je suis, does that mean chu-tu means je suis tu? Yes! But it most definitely doesn’t mean something like “I am you.”

If you read OffQc, there’s no fooling you — you know tu here is used to ask yes-no questions and has nothing to do with the second-person singular subject tu.

You can replace the tu with oui ou non to help you understand the questions.

Chus-tu la seule à faire ça?
Chus-[oui ou non] la seule à faire ça?
Am I the only one who does that?

Chu-tu en train de virer fou?
Chu-[oui ou non] en train de virer fou?
Am I going crazy?

Asking yes-no questions with tu is an informal equivalent of asking yes-no questions with est-ce que. The difference is that est-ce que goes before the subject and verb, but tu goes after them.

Est-ce que c’est vraiment ça?
C’est-tu vraiment ça?

Est-ce que je suis le seul à faire ça?
Je suis-tu le seul à faire ça?
But pronounced:
Chu-tu le seul à faire ça?

Est-ce que tu as vu ça?
Tu as-tu vu ça?
But pronounced:
T’as-tu vu ça?

Est-ce que je suis en train de virer fou?
Je suis-tu en train de virer fou?
But pronounced:
Chu-tu en train de virer fou?

When the letter t appears before the French u sound, it’s pronounced ts (like the ts sound in the English words cats, bats and hats).

Chu-tu is really pronounced chu-tsu.
C’est-tu is really pronounced cé-tsu.
T’as-tu is really pronounced tâ-tsu, etc.

It’s a small difference, but the Québécois will hear it. If you’re not sure what this ts thing sounds like, there’s only one remedy — start listening to lots of spoken French from Québec. If you haven’t listened to much spoken French before, you might not notice the ts sound at first. But once you’ve managed to hear it, you’ll realise just how prevalent its use really is.

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I like Lisa LeBlanc’s profile description on Twitter (@lisaleblancyo):

J’fais du Folk-Trash, j’viens d’un village de 40 personnes pi j’u tannée de chanter des chansons fi-filles.

I do trash folk, I come from a village of 40 people an’ I’m sick of singing girly-girl songs.

Le folk-trash is what Lisa LeBlanc calls her musical genre. Her music is folk, but the lyrics are bolder and… trashier.

For example, her song called Câlisse-moi là means “Fucking dump me,” and the one called Ma vie, c’est de la marde means “My life is shitty.”

We’ve seen hundreds of times on OffQc that pis is very frequently used as a synonym of et. Pis is a contraction of puis. It’s pronounced pi, and that’s exactly how Lisa LeBlanc has chosen to spell it here.

Unlike et though, pis is an informal usage only. We can say pis is just as informal sounding (and just as normal sounding) as English’s “and” contracted to “an’.”

What’s that j’u in there? It means je suis. We’ve also seen many, many times on OffQc how je suis can contract informally to j’suis, which sounds like chu or chui. Lisa LeBlanc has chosen to spell it as j’u here, but it sounds like chu.

Do you wonder where the ch sound in chu comes from? When je suis contracts to j’suis, the j’s is pronounced ch.

The informally contracted j’s always sounds like ch, which is also why je sais contracted to j’sais sounds like ché.

Every self-respecting learner of Québécois French must master the expression être tanné de! It means “to be fed up with,” “to be tired of,” “to be sick of,” “to have had enough of.”

The expression être tanné de can be followed by a noun or a verb: Chu tannée de chanter des chansons fi-filles. Chu tannée des chansons fi-filles.

Remember that tannée is the feminine form; the masculine form is tanné.

One last word to look at from the description: fi-fille. If Lisa LeBlanc’s music is trash folk or du folk-trash, then it’s definitely not gonna sound all prissy with sappy love songs and shit. I mean, just fuckin’ câlisse-moi là, right?

The fi part of fi-fille is a shortening of fille. If we wanted to translate fi-fille very literally, we’d get gi-girl or gi-girly. Nobody says that in English though, so fi-fille means “prissy,” “girly-girl” or just “girly.”

If you had trouble understanding Lisa LeBlanc’s profile description at the beginning of this post, read it again now:

J’fais du Folk-Trash, j’viens d’un village de 40 personnes pi j’u tannée de chanter des chansons fi-filles.

Now go read or reread all the posts on OffQc related to Lisa LeBlanc or discover her trashy, anti-fi-fille music on her website!

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