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Posts Tagged ‘Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF)’

The OQLF favours two words for hamburgerun hamburger and un hambourgeois, and they recognise an informal usage: un burger.

The thing about words favoured by the OQLF, though, is that they aren’t necessarily the words in use. Hambourgeois was created to replace hamburger, but it never took on. So, in actual usage, we really only have:

  • un hamburger
  • un burger

Use caution if you consult the Grand dictionnaire terminologiqueIt doesn’t reflect how French is really spoken in Québec — it reflects how the OQLF would like to see French spoken in Québec. It’s a collection of a) words in use that they approve, b) words in use that they disapprove, and c) words that are used little or not at all but that ideally they’d like to see catch on, like hambourgeois.

A hamburger restaurant called Harvey’s has this as its slogan in Québec:

Harvey’s,
à chacun son burger

À chacun son burger literally means to each his (own) burger, but more naturally it means something like your burger, your way. That’s because you can choose what you want on your burger at Harvey’s.

Burger is pronounced as in English (beurgueur), with English r‘s and all. It still uses normal French stress, though (i.e., stress on the second syllable).

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In this post, I’ve taken some usages heard in Québécois French that were said by a woman in her 70s in Montréal.

  • faire peinturer

She was talking about getting a room in her house painted; faire peinturer means to have painted, to get painted (by someone else), for example faire peinturer les murs, to get the walls painted. If you look up the verb to paint in the dictionary, you’ll probably find peindre instead. Québécois usage prefers peinturer.

  • quand qu’y’a fermé la porte

Y’a is an informal pronunciation of il a, but there’s also a que slipped in here that maybe you weren’t expecting; it means when he shut the door. You’ll often hear que inserted after quand like this in colloquial language. Another example: quand qu’y’a fini, when he finished.

  • dans ma chambre de bain

She referred to her bathroom as une chambre de bain. In the Grand dictionnaire terminologique, we read something interesting about this term:

Chambre de bains (ou chambre de bain) est souvent présenté comme un calque de l’anglais à éviter, alors qu’il s’agit plutôt d’un terme d’origine française. Le mot chambre était déjà utilisé en ancien français pour désigner une pièce quelconque de la maison.

Par ailleurs, on trouve chambre de bains et chambre de bain chez des auteurs français du XIXe siècle. Ce terme est toujours utilisé dans certaines aires francophones. On en trouve des traces en France et en Belgique, et il est encore en usage au Québec et en Suisse. Il est toutefois en perte de vitesse dans ce dernier pays.

[chambre de bains | chambre de bain] Au Québec, il est surtout relevé dans des contextes de langue courante, tandis que salle de bains et salle de bain sont employés dans toutes les situations de communication.

Chambre de bains (ou chambre de bain) is often considered an anglicism to be avoided, whereas it is in fact originally a French term. The word chambre was already in use in Old French to designate any room of a house [as opposed to pièce].

Furthermore, chambre de bains and chambre de bain were used by certain French authors in the 19th century. This term is still in use in some French-speaking areas. There are still traces of it in France and Belgium, and it is still in use in Québec and Switzerland. It is, however, falling out of use in Switzerland.

In Québec, chambre de bains and chambre de bain are mostly used in colloquial language situations, whereas salle de bains and salle de bain are used in any language situation.

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In Québec, you’ll find slush all year round… not because winter never ends, but because you can drink it in the summer as a treat.

In the winter, la sloche (or la slush) is snow on the ground that becomes watery and dirty as large numbers of pedestrians or cars pass over it.

Corner of rue Sainte-Catherine and rue Guy in Montréal, December 2013

In the summer, you can drink la sloche (or la slush) in the form of a colourful, icy drink that you slurp up through a straw.

Window of a dépanneur at the Palais des congrès de Montréal, July 2015

For the sake of interest, and as you might have imagined, the OQLF recommends different words for these two concepts because sloche comes from English. For winter slush, one of the recommended words is la gadoue. For summer slush, one of the recommended words is la barbotine. This doesn’t stop people from using sloche colloquially in both cases, of course.

One of the reasons they give for not recommending sloche is that it doesn’t fill any gaps in the French language because words like gadoue and barbotine exist. This argument doesn’t hold up; we can also say that gadoue and barbotine don’t fill any gaps because the word sloche exists. Shall we stop saying content because heureux exists? It’s unclear to me why they need to hide the real motive and which everybody already knows anyway — they don’t recommend sloche because it comes from English.

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I came across an example of the word égoportrait in use in the Montréal edition of the Métro newspaper. Égoportrait, you’ll remember, is an OQLF-approved word meant to replace the English-derived selfie.

In the Métro article, Catherine Deneuve is quoted as saying that she hates selfies:

Elle avoue également «détester les selfies» dans une interview publiée dans le Journal du Dimanche […].

In an interview published in the Journal du Dimanche, she also admits to hating selfies.

Métro (Montréal edition), “Vie de stars,” 11 May 2015, p.17.

A bit farther along in the article, we read that the Cannes Film Festival has launched a campaign this year to restrict the taking of selfies on the red carpet:

Notons que le Festival de Cannes mène cette année une campagne pour limiter les égoportraits sur le tapis rouge, une pratique jugée «ridicule et grotesque» par son délégué général, Thierry Frémaux.

It should be noted that the Cannes Film Festival has launched a campaign this year to restrict selfies from being taken on the red carpet, a practice deemed “ridiculous and grotesque” by managing director Thierry Frémaux.

Métro (Montréal edition), “Vie de stars,” 11 May 2015, p.17.

I don’t feel that égoportrait and selfie are entirely synonymous. Because of the égo prefix, égoportrait might work if you want to shed a negative light on the practice, like in this article. Selfie, on the other hand, doesn’t immediately sound negative to me. Could you imagine casually saying that you’re going to take an égoportrait of yourself for your Facebook profile? I think the OQLF would’ve done well to consider this before backing the word.

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I saw this first image — an ad from the SAQ — when walking past a bus shelter. Click on the image to see the full size. The text in the ad reads:

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

What on earth does this mean?

The SAQ is where you buy wine, spirits and liquors in Québec. It’s similar to the liquor corporations, commissions and control boards in other provinces, like Ontario’s LCBO. SAQ stands for la Société des alcools du Québec.

In this ad, the SAQ is telling us we can keep cool this summer by a) spraying mist on ourselves with a spray bottle or b) getting drunk by consuming refreshingly cold alcoholic drinks bought at the SAQ.

Do you remember the words feeling, chaudasse and chaud from entry #808 to describe two different states of drunkenness? The expressions être chaudasse and être feeling mean only partially drunk, like when you’re buzzed or tipsy, but être chaud is used to describe being completely drunk.

And what about the term un pouche-pouche, which refers to a spray bottle? We first saw an example of pouche-pouche in entry #800. In that example, a mother-to-be with a slightly detached placenta asked in an online forum if it’s okay to take a dip in the pool on hot days. Another woman provided her with this advice to keep cool:

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!

The mother-to-be referred to her slightly detached placenta as un léger décollement placentaire. I do try my best to find the most relevant French vocabulary for you to learn, you know!

Oh, and do you remember in entries #762 and #771 how we looked at the use of the word un selfie in French? And how the OQLF has endorsed the use of the words une autophoto and un égoportrait in an attempt to replace selfie?

In #762, I posted the image of an ad from Vidéotron where the word selfie appeared in French. But, just the other day, I noticed that Fido (another mobile phone company) had chosen to use the word autophoto instead at their kiosk in a shopping centre.

The text in the image reads:

Partagez une autophoto de votre chien sur les réseaux sociaux Share your dog’s selfie on social networks

This doesn’t mean the word selfie has already been replaced in regular language, of course. Despite the use of autophoto in this example, my guess is that selfie is here to stay.

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