Posts Tagged ‘Les Cowboys Fringants’

For those of you working through the new Contracted French book or who are thinking of buying it, check out the song called Octobre by Les Cowboys Fringants. (I can’t find an official version of the video to put here, but you’ll find the song on YouTube.)

The first four lines are:

Y’a tout l’temps quat’ ronds d’allumés 
Su’l’feu d’mes ambitions 
À force de m’dépasser 
J’me perds moi-même dans l’horizon

In just these four lines, there are seven very important informal contractions to know. All of them are explored in Contracted French.

Can you identify the informal contractions?

Y’a [1] tout l’temps [2] quat’ [3] ronds d’allumés 
Su’l’feu [4] d’mes [5] ambitions 
À force de m’dépasser [6]
J’me [7] perds moi-même dans l’horizon

If you’re working with Contracted French right now, here’s where you’ll find info about these kinds of contractions:

  1. y’a, chapter 3
  2. tout l’temps, chapter 5
  3. quat’, chapter 12
  4. su’l’feu, chapter 5
  5. d’mes, chapter 6
  6. de m’dépasser, chapter 7
  7. j’me, chapter 7

In the book, you’ll discover how to form these contractions yourself in similar phrases. I also explain in detail how to pronounce the contractions, and these explanations are backed up with audio so you can listen to the contractions too.

For example, de me dépasser and de m’dépasser don’t sound the same. The full de me dépasser has five syllables, whereas the contracted de m’dépasser has four. It’s these details that make your French sound natural if you apply them yourself when you speak (and unnatural or stilted if you don’t apply them). It’s also these details that make listening to French so challenging for the uninitiated.

If you take the lyrics above and rework them into full, uncontracted form, here’s what you get:

Il y a tout le temps quatre ronds d’allumés 
Sur le feu de mes ambitions 
À force de me dépasser 
Je me perds moi-même dans l’horizon

Some vocab:

rond, burner, element (like on a stove)
allumé, lit
à force de, due to the effort of, through (my) effort of
me dépasser, to outdo myself

A very literal translation:

There are always four burners lit
On the fire of my ambitions
By always outdoing myself
I lose myself in the horizon

Sur le feu de mes contracts to su’l’feu d’mes. It goes from five syllables (in full form) to just three (in contracted form). Can you say su’l’feu d’mes in three syllables?

Contractions are a challenging area to master in French. Give yourself lots of time for contractions to become part of your usual French. Remember, keep listening to as much spoken French as you can; give yourself as many opportunities as possible for them to sink in.

Now that you know je me perds contracts to j’me perds, can you say how je me donne contracts? What about je me dis and je me suis? (Don’t forget that suis can take on contracted forms too! This is also dealt with in Contracted French and its mp3 files.)

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A word that came up on OffQc back in 2011 and that we’ve never looked at again is boqué. The usage we looked at came from a dialogue in the television show 19-2, where boqué was used as both a noun and adjective:

— Ça doit pas être facile… travailler avec un boqué de même.
— Non… j’peux être aussi boqué que lui.

— Must not be easy… working with a stubborn guy like that.
— No… (but) I can be just as stubborn as him.

From 19-2, season 1, episode 6,
Radio-Canada, 9 March 2011.

You’ll also see boqué spelled in informal writing as bucké or bocké, given that it’s believed by certain speakers to derive from the English buck. The Usito dictionary, however, recognises the Québécois verb boquer [meaning to stand up to, refuse to obey], says it derives from bouquer, and says it’s also heard in other parts of the francophonie, like Switzerland, so it may in fact be a false anglicism.

I went on a little hunt for examples of this word online to illustrate its use:

Bref le monsieur, ben boqué à rester dans les années 1900, est reparti en disant qu’il allait revenir demain.
In short, the man, determined to remain stuck in the 1900s, left and said he’d come back tomorrow.
(Dans les années can be pronounced informally as dins années*; qu’il allait is pronounced informally as qu’y’allait.)

Il n’y a pas moyen de le faire changer d’idée, il est bucké.
It’s impossible to get him to change his mind, he’s stubborn.
(Il n’y a pas moyen is pronounced informally as y’a pas moyen; il est is pronounced informally as yé.)

Il était boqué sur son idée de sushis, fait qu’on a mangé ça.
He wouldn’t budge on his idea to eat sushi, so that’s what we had.
(Il était is pronounced informally as y’étaitfait que here is the informal faque we looked at recently.)

J’écoute toutes sortes de musique variées… Ça va du Linkin Park à Frank Sinatra à du EDM, du Hardcore, etc. Je suis pas trop bucké là-dessus!
I listen to all kinds of varied music… It ranges from Linkin Park to Frank Sinatra to EDM, Hardcore, etc. I’m not too stubborn about it!
(Je suis is pronounced informally as j’su’/chu or j’suis/chui.)

*If you want to hear an example of dans les années pronounced informally as dins années (sounds like dain z’année), look on YouTube for the song Camping Ste-Germaine by Les Cowboys Fringants.

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