Posts Tagged ‘magasiner’

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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A reader of OffQc asks for help understanding the difference between the French words for broom and vacuum cleaner as used in Québec, as well as the difference between the French verbs for to sweep and to vacuum.

Nice question! The word for broom in French is un balai. There are two ways vacuum cleaner is said in French: un aspirateur, une balayeuse.

When it refers to a vacuum cleaner, the term balayeuse — it sounds a lot like balai, doesn’t it? — is specific to the French used in Québec. Aspirateur is used everywhere, including Québec.

If you were to go shopping for a vacuum cleaner, you’d see the term aspirateur on the box. Balayeuse, on the other hand, feels more like a colloquial usage.

So those are the words for broom and vacuum cleaner.

  • un balai, broom
  • une balayeuse, vacuum cleaner
  • un aspirateur, vacuum cleaner

If you’re going shopping for a vacuum cleaner, you can talk about it with the verb magasiner. For example, magasiner un aspirateur means to shop around for a vacuum cleaner.

What about the verb forms? You can use passer with all three words:

  • passer le balai, to sweep (with a broom)
  • passer la balayeuse, to vacuum
  • passer l’aspirateur, to vacuum

If you want to say where the sweeping or vacuuming is done, you can use dans, for example: j’ai passé la balayeuse dans ma chambre.

But there’s also the verb balayer, which means to sweep:

  • balayer, to sweep (with a broom)

If you want to say to sweep the floor using this verb, you can say balayer le plancher. Balayer la cuisine is to sweep the kitchen.

Pronunciation tip

Balai sounds like balè. Are you pronouncing è correctly?

Say these two words in French: mes and messe.

Mes sounds like mé, but messe sounds like mèss. Do you hear the difference between the two vowel sounds? The è sound of messe is the same sound used in balai. Balai ends in the same sound as that informal English word of indifference: meh.

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By “informal,” I mean a word or expression far more likely to be found in normal, spontaneous, everyday language — between friends and family, for example — than in high literature or business correspondence or news reports.

In many posts on OffQc, you’ve no doubt noticed that I very often say that such-and-such a word or expression is an informal usage. Maybe you’ve even begun to wonder if all Québécois words and expressions are informal…

They’re not. There are many words and expressions unique to Québec that you’re just as likely to hear in everyday, spontaneous language as you are in a televised news report or formal language, in the same way that words like téléphone and café can cross language levels.

Below are some examples of both informal and level-neutral Québécois French.

Informal (between friends, for example)

  • pogner, to grab, catch
  • checker, to check
  • c’est-tu…?, is it…?, is that…?
  • capoter, to flip out
  • m’as, I’m gonna (+ infinitive)
  • c’est don’ bin cute!, is that ever cute!
  • pis là, and then
  • faque, so
  • enweille!, come on then!
  • un char, car

Level-neutral (not limited to one language level)

  • un cégépien, cégep student
  • faire l’épicerie, to go food shopping
  • magasiner, to shop, shop around for
  • une tête-de-violon, fiddlehead
  • la poudrerie, blowing snow
  • un melon d’eau, watermelon
  • une pourvoirie, grounds where you can hunt, fish, trap
  • à l’arrêt, at the stop sign
  • un téléroman, soap opera
  • un REER, retirement investment, pronounced ré-èr

It’s true that a lot of the language on OffQc falls more in the informal category than the level-neutral one. I do this because this is the language that’s more difficult to learn.

Informal words and expressions are less likely to appear in dictionaries and learning materials than the level-neutral ones. Informal usages are also sometimes “hidden” from learners by language instructors who judge them negatively or, outside of Québec, may be unknown to them if they aren’t familiar with the Québécois variety of French.

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Here’s more stuff from the radio. The radio’s good because you can leave it on in the background, if it’s not too distracting for you.

For suggestions of stations, check Brad’s links page on his excellent Québec Culture Blog.

Here are three things overheard in a radio conversation about clothes. Each one contains a Québécois usage.

1. La sécheuse, ça magane les vêtements.
The dryer wrecks your clothes.

2. Si on achète une robe qui est dispendieuse…
If you buy a dress that’s expensive…

3. On magasine en ligne de la même manière qu’on magasine en magasin.
People shop online the same way they shop in the store.

In number 1, there’s the verb maganer again. It’s used here in the sense of to wreck, ruin.

In number 2, we’ve got the adjective dispendieux. It means expensive here.

In number 3, the verb magasiner means to shop. Magasiner en ligne means to shop online.

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Six oranges, check. Five tomatoes, check. One locally grown child, check.

Last week, I went to a supermarket called Maxi.

At Maxi, you have to put une piasse (1 $) into a device on le panier (shopping cart) to release it from the other ones. The panier only accepts one-dollar coins.

When I had finished shopping and returned my panier, two women approached me. One of them asked if she could take my piasse in exchange for four quarters so that she could take a panier.

She asked:

Est-ce que je peux prendre ta piasse pour quatre vingt-cinq sous?
Can I take your loonie [one-dollar coin] for four quarters?

At Maxi, there’s a large sign posted at the spot where customers return their paniers in the parking lot, le stationnement.

I took a photo of the sign so that you could see it and learn French vocabulary from it.

Some of the vocabulary on the sign includes: dépôt, se procurer un panier, retourner le panier, magasiner, passer à la caisse, déverrouiller un panier, monnaie, jeton réutilisable.

The word panier doesn’t just refer to shopping carts with wheels, though.

I found another sign that uses the word panier on it at the entrance to a store called Dollarama.

On this sign, shoppers are told to use a panier (basket) when shopping in the store, and not one of their own sacs réutilisables, reusable bags.

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