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Posts Tagged ‘La Galère’

Wou-hou, check la madame, est toute énarvée!

Yes! Entry #800! I’m so excited!
J’suis tellement énervé!

Now there’s an expression that means the opposite of what you might expect…

In Québec, j’suis tellement énervé doesn’t have the negative meaning of “annoyed” or “irritated” like it does in France.

It has the positive meaning of “excited.”

Remember, je suis is very often pronounced informally as chu or chui.

I’ll use the spelling j’suis below to show these informal pronunciations.

J’suis tellement énervée, je tiens plus en place.
I’m so excited, I can’t keep still.

Je dors p’us, j’suis tellement énervé!
I can’t sleep anymore, I’m so excited! (P’us in informal pronunciation of the negative [ne] plus. It sounds like pu.)

Je capote, j’suis énervée, excitée…
I can’t calm down, I’m so excited…

J’suis toute énervée, là! J’ai plein de papillons!
I’m so excited! I’m all butterflies!

J’suis tellement énervé de partir.
I’m so excited to leave.

J’étais très énervé à l’idée de le rencontrer.
I was very excited at the idea of meeting him.

J’suis tellement énervée! J’me peux p’us! Maudit que j’ai hâte!
I’m so excited! I can’t take it anymore (can’t wait)! Damn I can’t wait!

In that last example above, j’me peux p’us is a contraction of je (ne) me peux plus and means essentially the same thing as j’ai hâte. The informal p’us sounds like pu.

You’ll remember that the Québécois pronounce â like “aww,” so hâte almost-sorta-kinda sounds like the English word “ought,” whereas in France hâte sounds more like the English word “at.”

J’ai hâte! J’me peux p’us!
I can’t wait! I can’t take it anymore!

J’me peux p’us… dans trois jours, je pars en vacances!
I can’t wait… in three days, I’m going on holiday!

Câline, j’me peux p’us, j’ai trop hâte de voir ça!
My goodness, I can’t take it anymore, I can’t wait to see it!

The expression je me peux plus can take on another sense: A woman asked online in a forum for pregnant mothers if she could take a quick dip in the pool on a hot day despite having a slightly detached placenta. Another woman responded with this advice for her on hot days:

Moi, j’ai toujours un pouche-pouche d’eau dans le réfrigérateur. Quand je me peux pus, je m’arrose de cette eau très froide et OH que ça fait du bien!

I always keep a spray bottle filled with water in the refrigerator. When I can’t take it anymore, I spray myself with the cold water and OH does it ever feel good!

Here, the idea behind je me peux plus is not being able to withstand any longer (and not “I can’t wait” like in the other examples).

Yes, un pouche-pouche is a spray bottle! Here, it’s used to talk about a spray bottle filled with water; it’s also used to talk about spray bottles filled with perfume. This funny term comes from the sound the spray bottle makes… pouche-pouche. 😀

And now I think this entry has officially gone off topic. We started with being excited and now we’re talking about… pouche-pouches!

P.S. Énarvé is a pronunciation variation of énervé. Pronouncing ar instead of er is more typically associated with older speakers (e.g., varte instead of verte). The exception to this is the ar sound in vulgar words, which can be heard in all age groups, like tabarnak, viarge, marde, as opposed to tabernacle, vierge, merde.

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“Help! I think I speak pretty good French, but I still have so much trouble understanding what people are saying!”

If that describes you, know that you’re not alone. Improving your listening skills takes time — a lot of it. If you’re struggling to understand spoken French, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a gift for languages. We all have to work on it. It just means that you need to revise what you’re doing to avoid fumbling along without making progress.

Seeing improvement in your listening skills is a lot like losing weight (or gaining it). You only see the changes in hindsight after a long period has passed. You don’t see the changes on a day-to-day basis. If you start following some or all of the suggestions below, you can be sure that your listening skills will improve.

By the way, I’m not going to include “speak with francophones” in this list. That one’s so obvious that you already knew you should be doing it.

1. Speak with francophones

OK, I lied. Speak with francophones! There can be no better listening practice than speaking with francophones. Start with just one francophone. One-on-one conversations will reform your French in ways that you can’t even imagine if you’re not doing this yet. In one-on-one conversations, you have to listen to what your friend is saying for the conversation to continue.

Please don’t be one of those people who thinks that they need to improve their French just a little more before speaking. That’s missing the whole point of learning French. Nobody cares about your perfect or imperfect French, people care about you.

The francophone you find doesn’t even need to be québécois. Just find a francophone and start building a relationship.

If you are in fact already speaking with francophones very regularly but still feel like you’re struggling to understand spoken French — relax. You’re doing everything right. Your listening skills are improving, even if you don’t see it right now. Keep doing what you’re doing.

2. Familiarise yourself with more vocabulary

Yes, become familiar with the vocabulary specific to Quebec French, but please don’t neglect French vocabulary in general. Sometimes I see certain learners get so hung up with wanting to learn all the typical québécois words (nothing wrong with that) that they forget to learn even the most basic and important vocabulary common to all francophones (that’s a problem).

Become familiar with vocab however it is that you like to do it. You like word lists? Go nuts. Flash cards? Flash away. Read the newspaper? Browse the dictionary? Do it. Just do something that you enjoy and that you’ll be inclined to do often enough.

The point of this isn’t to study vocabulary. Really, I don’t think that you’ll learn vocabulary by studying it. The point of this is to make an initial contact with lots of vocabulary on your own so that when you’re doing the more important work of speaking with francophones or listening to French, you’ll hear that vocab again and have a better chance of understanding what you hear. And that’s when you’ll learn the vocab for real.

3. Listen to the radio

I know of learners who have made incredible progress in French after listening to the radio. I’ve recommended it numerous times on OffQc: 98,5 fm. It’s all-talk radio on weekdays, which means that it’s very dense with spoken French. You can listen to it live on the radio in Montréal, or listen online from anywhere.

Again, if I’ve insisted so much on 98,5 fm, it’s because I’ve seen the success that other learners have had with it with my own eyes (or ears). If this station isn’t for you, no problem, there are others to choose from. Pick something you like and listen to it. But really listen to it. Don’t just keep noise on in the background for the sake of it — pay attention to what you’re hearing.

4. Watch television series

OffQc is full of examples from québécois television series. This isn’t an accident! I’ve chosen the language examples that you’ve discovered on OffQc because they’re pertinent to everyday language situations. Three television series that I’ve quoted from extensively on OffQc are Les Parent, 19-2 and La Galère.

These three certainly aren’t the only québécois series that prove useful, but I’ve consistently gone back to them time and time again because of their pertinence, quality and entertainment appeal. You can watch films too, but the advantage to picking series is that they have many episodes and are produced in several seasons’ worth.

The most important consideration, of course, is to watch something that interests you. There’s not much point forcing yourself to sit through something that you feel is dead boring. You’re not going to become hooked enough to want to continue. Keep looking for something that you fall in love with, then listen, listen, listen.

Don’t just watch an episode once and be done with it. Watch it the first time to enjoy it. Watch it a second time to become even more familiar with it. Listen a third time, and then a fourth. You get the idea. The more you listen to it, the more that language is going to worm its way into your head and the better you’ll become at listening.

5. Every single day, baby

As a bare minimum, spend one to two hours a day of listening to French or taking part in French conversation. If you want to pick up steam in French though, I say increase it to the highest amount that you can manage, without driving yourself crazy. There is time for it. (No, you don’t need to spend quite so much time on Facebook.)

I don’t want to be a downer, but if the number of hours you spend per month listening to French and taking part in conversation can be counted on the fingers of one hand, you’re not doing enough. This is why you feel like you’re struggling to understand.

The number of hours should be more like the number of fingers on both your hands and all the toes on your feet. And then add to that all the fingers on my hands and all the toes on my feet. (OK, maybe not my feet because I’m missing some toes. Somebody else’s feet.) And then multiply that by three. Or four…

Increase the hours dramatically and you can be sure that your listening comprehension will improve. There’s nothing magical about it, honest.

Enjoy your journey!

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Ostie que ça pue

Here are 5 items in French that you’ll find useful to learn. This list of 5 all started with 1 smelly garbage bin in Montréal…

1. Ostie que ça pue!

“Fuck that stinks!” I heard a man yell this while standing at a bus stop with some friends. Near them was a smelly garbage bin.

When something stinks, ça pue.

Ostie derives from hostie, the sacramental bread for Catholics. Variations of the swear word ostie exist, like estie and astie.

Yelling ostie or one of its variations is equivalent to yelling “fuck!”

Ostie que ça pue dans ta chambre!
Does it ever fucking stink in your room!

Remember how vidanges means “garbage” in Québec? I found this example on the web using both puer from our example above and vidanges:

J’devrais p’t’être sortir les vidanges qui puent la marde.
= Je devrais peut-être sortir les vidanges qui puent la marde.
I should probably take out the garbage which smells like shit.

2. Marde

That last example used puer la marde, “to smell like shit.” And that’s not a spelling mistake for merde — you really will hear marde in Québec.

Merde is also understood, like everywhere in the French-speaking world, but marde is distinctively québécois shit.

In a scene from La Galère (season 3, episode 10), Claude panics when her fiancé leaves her. She exclaims:

J’sus dans marde!
I’m in deep shit! I’m screwed!

3. J’sus dans marde!

When you’re up shit’s creek, t’es dans marde. The expression is être dans la marde, but you’ll hear it said as être dans marde, without la. It’s an informal contraction where la gets swallowed up by dans.

J’sus sounds like chu. It means the same thing as je suis, but chu is an informal pronunciation of it. Another informal pronunciation you’ll hear is j’suis, which sounds like chui.

In another scene from La Galère (season 2, episode 2), Stéphanie is angry because she’s let herself get hurt again by her boyfriend. She uses the informal j’sus when she says:

J’sus cave, j’sus cave, ostie, j’sus cave.
I’m so stupid, so stupid, fuck, I’m so stupid.

4. Cave

Un cave is an idiot. Olivier from Les Parent (season 3, episode 19) says:

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

He used the vous form because he was speaking to more than one person. If we convert it to the tu form, it becomes prends-moi pas pour un cave!

5. Prends-moi pas

This form is an informal usage. According to the rules of standard written French, it would have to be ne me prends pas. During conversations, you’re very likely to hear it said as prends-moi pas instead.

Here’s another example of this with the verb toucher.

1. touche-moi
2. touche-moi pas
3. ne me touche pas

(1) is the affirmative form. (2) is an informal spoken form in the negative. (3) is the standard written form in the negative.

Below is an example from the web using touche-moi pas. And just to take us full-circle back to number 1 of this list, it also uses the verb puer as part of the expression puer la sueur, similar to puer la marde.

Tu pues la sueur dès huit heures le matin.
Touche-moi pas!

You stink of sweat as early as 8 o’clock in the morning.
Don’t touch me!

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UNE COUPONNEUSE

In this La Presse article about the use of coupons at Maxi (a supermarket in Québec), we learn that une couponneuse is an avid coupon collector and user.

According to the article (16 June 2013), the majority of couponneuses are women between the ages of 25 and 45:

[…] les accros des coupons, qu’on appelle familièrement les couponneuses (majoritairement des femmes de 25 à 45 ans).

PÉTER UNE COCHE

After writing about the expression être s’a coche, Eva commented that she knew another expression from Québec using the word coche: péter une coche.

This expression means to get angry and “blow a fuse” or “lose it.” Here’s an example of this expression pulled from the Wikébec glossary:

Y’a pété une coche quand y’a coulé son examen.
= Il a pété une coche quand il a coulé son examen.
He lost it when he flunked his exam.

You may also hear sauter une coche used in the same sense.

COULER SON EXAMEN

You’ve already seen the verb couler from the example above (couler son examen) if you’ve read this entire blog. I’ve used examples of it from TV series like Les Parent, La Galère and 30 vies. The kids in these shows talk about flunking at school using the verb couler.

For example, Olivier in Les Parent said this about his maths teacher:

Y fait couler tout le monde!
He flunks everybody!

[Les Parent, season 4, episode 15, Radio-Canada, Montréal, 6 February 2012]

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In a scene from La Galère, Stéphanie goes to see her teenaged son’s new apartment. It’s a real dump.

The first thing that she says about the apartment is:

C’est pas cute cute, c’est pas prop’ prop’…
It’s not cute cute, it’s not clean clean…
(Not exactly cute, not exactly clean…)

She pronounced propre informally as prop’.

Now a quote from the magazine Urbania:

— […] Nomme-moi, vite vite de même, dix cinéastes femmes au Québec.
— Vite vite de même, là?
— GO!

— Name (quick quick just like that) ten female filmmakers in Quebec.
— What, just like that?
— GO!

Today: cute cute, propre propre, vite vite. Yesterday (#424): là, là? là, là! Sometimes French words are better in pairs!

[First quote from La Galère, season 4, episode 3, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 26 September 2011. Second quote by Robin Aubert in “Mon amie tout court,” Urbania, hiver 2012, numéro 32, Montréal, p. 83.]

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Isabelle from the series La Galère is a lawyer. In her personal life, she likes things to be in order. She’s very concerned with what people think of her — she’s always dressed professionally when she goes out, even when she’s not working. Isabelle never relaxes.

But then, one day, she meets a new man. He rides a motorbike, he’s rough on the edges, and Isabelle thinks he may even be a criminal. But she’s intrigued and, although she doesn’t let on, she’s attracted to him.

Try to picture these two different personality types: one, an uptight lawyer who never relaxes; the other, a rough guy who rides a motorbike, someone who maybe has a “past.”

In a scene where this new guys stops by Isabelle’s house on his motorbike, Isabelle puts forward her usual inhibited self — she doesn’t like that he’s stopped by without notice, and she doesn’t like motorbikes. She lets him know that she’s not impressed (even though we suspect that she’s secretly happy to see him). To tease Isabelle about how uptight she is, he says:

T’as l’air pognée.

[Said by a biker (un motard) in La Galère, season 4, episode 7, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 24 October 2011.]

When you come across new expressions in French, you can use Google or another search engine as a guide. Imagine that you’ve come across the expression avoir l’air pogné for the first time. Using Google, you can search for variations of this expression to see what you come up with. If you put your search terms between quotation marks, you’ll search for those exact words in that exact order.

As an example, you can type “as l’air pogné” (with quotation marks) into Google and find these examples:

Sois plus à l’aise au mic*, t’as l’air pogné.
T’es pas drôle en personne, t’as l’air pogné.

You can try the same experiment with different expressions that you’re learning. You can usually find good examples that help you to deepen your understanding. Just be aware that you’ll probably find lots of spelling mistakes in online forums!

Then you can start to use the expression in combination with other ones that you already know. For example, avoir l’air pogné + sur une photo:

T’as l’air pogné sur cette photo.

Were you able to infer the meaning of the expression avoir l’air pogné without needing a translation into English? (If not, you can check out the comments section.)

* mic = mike (i.e., microphone)

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If you heard the expression d’enfer, you’d be correct in thinking that it meant “of hell.” Literally, that’s what it means.

Informally, d’enfer can take on another meaning, though.

In a scene from La Galère, a teenager named Hugo is excited that he’s going to get a new apartment. But he’s not going to get just any old apartment — no, he’s going to get un appart d’enfer!

D’enfer can be added after a noun to mean amazing, awesome, wild…

Un appart is an informal way of saying un appartement. The final t in appart is pronounced.

Examples:

Un appartement d’enfer, c’est cher!
An amazing apartment is expensive!

Tu vas avoir un appart d’enfer à Montréal!
You’re going to get an amazing apartment in Montreal!

[This entry was inspired by the character Hugo in La Galère, season 3, episode 10, Radio-Canada, Montreal, 22 November 2010.]

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