Posts Tagged ‘pas mal’

Lettre d'une boulimique [Urbania]

Lettre d’une boulimique [illustration by Catherine Potvin]

In an interesting text called “Lettre d’une boulimique,” written by an anonymous author and published on Urbania, we read about the struggles of one person with bulimia, called la boulimie in French. A person who suffers from bulimia is un or une boulimique.

To help out a little with understanding the text, here’s a look at some of the vocabulary used in it.

The author begins with:

On a tous déjà pris du poids, à un moment donné dans nos vies. Ceux pour qui c’est pas le cas, vous êtes chanceux, mais j’vous emmerde un peu.

We’ve all put on weight at one point or another in our lives. For those of you who haven’t, you’re lucky, but you can also kind of go to hell.

The expression prendre du poids means “to gain weight.” Its opposite is perdre du poids, “to lose weight.” The expression à un moment donné is used frequently in French. It means “at some point.”

The expression je vous emmerde (and je t’emmerde) can be translated with varying degrees of strength, depending on the context. It can mean “fuck you,” but because I felt this was too strong for the example above, I’ve rendered it instead as “you can go to hell.” It can also mean “screw you.”

The author continues:

La balance, quand on regarde ça objectivement, c’est juste notre rapport avec la gravité. No big deal, comme y disent. Sauf que comme vous le savez tous, dans la société où on vit, c’est quand même pas mal un big deal.

The scale, when looked at objectively, is just a measure of the force of gravity on our bodies. No big deal, as they say. Except, as you all know, in the society we live in, it is a big deal though.

There’s that expression pas mal again. Remember, pas mal isn’t a negation. It’s an intensifier. We can often translate pas mal as “pretty” in English. T’es pas mal jeune or t’es jeune pas mal means “you’re pretty young.” Other times, we might need to use other words in English to translate it, like “really” or “quite.” Using the expression big deal from the text:

C’est un big deal.
It’s a big deal.

C’est pas mal un big deal.
It’s really a big deal.

C’est quand même pas mal un big deal.
It’s really a big deal though.

When you say pas mal, those two words are said together:
c’est / quand même / pas mal / un big deal.

In the next bit of text, the author uses the verb pogner.

Regardons la réalité en face. Si on est mince, on pogne plus, on n’a pas à se sentir jugés quand on prend une poutine au resto, pis on risque de plus se faire engager si on a un beau body que si on a un surplus lipidique.

Let’s face it. If you’re thin, then you’re more attractive, you won’t feel like you’re being judged negatively if you order poutine at the restaurant, and you have more chances of being hired if you’ve got a nice bod instead of a surplus of fat.

We’ve seen the verb pogner a lot recently, especially in the book title Ah shit, j’ai pogné le cancer, written by Maude Schiltz. The informal verb pogner is used in Québec in the sense of “to catch.”

In the quote above, what the author means with on pogne plus is that if you’re thin, you’re more “catchy” — catchy in the sense of being physically attractive. You can understand pogner here as meaning “to be desirable,” and on pogne plus as meaning “one is more desirable.”

The expression pogner avec les filles means “to be lucky with girls.” A person qui pogne avec les filles is considered to be attractive by girls and has no trouble finding girlfriends. When it’s with the boys that someone is “catchy,” the expression is pogner avec les gars. Remember, gars is pronounced gâ.

Y pogne avec les filles.
Girls love him. Girls think he’s hot.

It’s not just people who can be catchy; a song can pogner too, for example. Une chanson qui pogne is a catchy song, a hit.

If you’d like to read the entire text on Urbania, you can do that here.

_ _ _

French quotes written by Anonymous in “Lettre d’une boulimique,” published on Urbania, 9 May 2014.

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petit train va loin — slowly but surely

10 French phrases — random stuff you’ve asked how to say recently or things I’ve come across in conversations and wanted to share here.

For number 4, I tried to do a drawing like MarieBee does on her tumblr. It’s nowhere near as nice as the ones she does.

1. Tu t’enfarges dans les détails.
You’re splitting hairs.
You’re getting too caught up in the details.

2. On attend de la visite en fin de semaine.
We’re expecting company this weekend.

3. C’est n’importe quoi ça.
That’s such nonsense.

4. Petit train va loin.
Slowly but surely.
[This is how you’ll learn French: on a little train that goes very, very far.]

5. Je te trouve jeune pas mal.
I think you’re pretty young.

6. Je cours tout le temps comme une poule pas de tête.
I’m always running around like a chicken with its head cut off.
[It means that you’re overwhelmed, running around trying to get stuff done.]

7. Check ben ça.
Check this out.
Take a look at that, will ya.

8. Y connaît son affaire.
He knows his stuff.
He knows what he’s doing.

9. Tout ça c’est ben beau, mais…
That’s all fine and dandy, but…
That may very well be, but…

10. C’est deux rues à l’est de Saint-Michel, côté sud.
It’s two blocks east of Saint-Michel, south side.
[Saint-Michel is a boulevard in Montréal. You can also say: c’est deux rues à l’est du boulevard Saint-Michel.]

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Le Navet, satirique mais poli

John just completed an 8 km run with RunTastic and nobody gives a shit, confirm his friends

That’s the headline used in an article from Le Navet, which I’ve translated into English.

Le Navet is a québécois humour site that publishes satirical articles in French. The articles are written in a convincing journalistic style, making for very comical reading! If you’re looking for something new to read in French, give Le Navet a try.

The headline from above reads like this in the original French article:

Jean vient de faire une course de 8 km avec RunTastic et tout le monde s’en sacre, confirment ses amis

The article then reports on Jean’s use of the RunTastic application, and how none of his Facebook friends give a flying fuck about his status updates regarding it:

Un homme originaire de la banlieue nord de Montréal vient tout juste de compléter une course de 8 km en 50 minutes avec l’application RunTastic et pas mal tout le monde s’en câlisse comme de l’an 40, ont confirmé avec conviction plusieurs de ses amis joints par Le Navet cet après-midi.

A man from the metropolitan area north of Montréal just completed an 8 km run in 50 minutes with the RunTastic application and pretty much nobody gives a flying fuck about it, confirm with conviction several of the man’s friends who were contacted by Le Navet this afternoon.

I’ve chosen this article in particular because it contains some language that we’ve been looking at recently on OffQc. There are also some other vocabulary items in the article that I wanted to draw your attention to.

1. Tout le monde s’en sacre.

Nobody gives a shit. Nobody gives a damn.

This comes from the article’s headline. The verb s’en sacrer means the same thing as s’en câlisser, which we looked at in a different entry dealing with the expression je m’en câlisse, or “I don’t give a fuck.” The phrase je m’en sacre means the same thing as je m’en câlisse.

2. Pas mal tout le monde s’en câlisse comme de l’an 40.

Pretty much nobody gives a flying fuck.

In English, when you really, really don’t care about something, fucks can start flying. In French, they’re more like the year 40. Hell yeah!

We looked at the expression pas mal in the last entry. This expression isn’t a negative — quite the opposite, in fact. We can translate pas mal tout le monde as “pretty much everybody.” Example: pas mal tout le monde est d’accord, “pretty much everybody agrees.”

I also wanted to draw your attention to some vocabulary used in the article related to Facebook status updates.

3. une publication

The article uses the word publication to refer to an update on Facebook. One of Jean’s friends had this to say about Jean’s RunTastic updates: Je dirais que sur vingt-cinq publications au sujet de ses courses, absolument aucune ne m’a le moindrement intéressée, “I’d say that, out of twenty-five updates about his runs, not a single one interested me in the least.”

4. J’aime son statut.

When you like someone’s status update on Facebook, tu aimes son statut. Jean’s friend admits to sometimes liking the RunTastic updates when none of Jean’s other friends like or comment on them: Parfois, j’aime son statut juste parce que je trouve ça gênant que personne réagisse.

Hmm, can you relate to that?

You might like to now review how to talk about blogging and blog posts in French. You can review words like un blogue and un billet.

[This entry’s vocabulary from: Le Navet, Jean vient de faire une course de 8 km avec RunTastic et tout le monde s’en sacre, confirment ses amis, lien]

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Here are five very useful examples of conversational French that have come up in conversations or that I’ve overheard in Montréal over the past few days.

You can read the notes for each example for tips on how to give a more natural feel to your French when you speak and to understand what you hear.

1. Comment il s’appelle, lui?

What’s his name? What’s that guy’s name?

When asking about names, you’ve learned to ask comment s’appelle-t-il? and comment t’appelles-tu?, etc., using the inversion after comment.

It’s perfectly correct, but it’s not usually what people say spontaneously. The person who asked comment il s’appelle, lui? didn’t use the inversion after comment. Similarly, you can ask comment tu t’appelles?

You’ll hear il pronounced very frequently as i during conversations. When this informal pronunciation appears in writing, it’s almost always written as y. The question sounded like comment y s’appelle, lui? There’s no liaison (no t sound) between comment and y.

2. T’as pas mal de stock.

You’ve got a lot of stuff.

This was said to me when I was carrying several bags of stuff. The word stock doesn’t refer to merchandise here. It just means “stuff” or “things.”

Pas mal here isn’t a negative. It’s a set expression meaning “a lot” or “quite a bit.” Another example: j’étais pas mal fatigué, “I was pretty tired.”

When using pas mal, keep the words pas and mal together in the same breath when you say them.

Don’t say: j’étais pas / mal fatigué.
Say: j’étais / pas mal fatigué.

Using the example from above:
Don’t say: t’as pas / mal de stock.
Say: t’as / pas mal de stock.

T’as is an informal way of saying tu as.

3. Fait que, dans le fond…

So, basically…

The expression fait que tends to pepper a lot of informal conversations in French. It means “so,” like alors or donc. For example: fait que, dans le fond, t’as deux choix, “so, basically, you’ve got two choices.” The expression fait que is a shortened form of ça fait que.

Fait que has two syllables, but you’ll also hear it pronounced with one as faque (sounds like fak).

As for dans le fond, it’s used in the same way that English speakers say “basically” to resume. You’ll hear faque dans le fond… just as often as the English expression “so, basically…” (in other words, often!).

4. Elle veut pas.

She doesn’t want to.

The speaker didn’t say elle ne veut pas. She said elle veut pas. To tell the truth, she didn’t say elle veut pas either. She said a veut pas!

Not only did she not include ne in her negative sentence, she pronounced the subject elle informally as a. If this happens, it’s only when elle is a subject. You’d never hear someone pronounce c’est pour elle as “c’est pour a” because elle isn’t a subject here.

It’s always acceptable for you to pronounce the subject elle as elle, even during informal conversations. Native speakers certainly don’t expect to hear a non-native pronounce elle informally as a.

Back to the example above — if you still wanted to maintain some informality when you speak, you could just leave out ne and say elle veut pas, avoiding pronouncing elle as a. Leaving out ne during regular, informal conversations with friends and co-workers will go unnoticed.

Of course, you can also say the full elle ne veut pas, no problem. It’s just that in spontaneous speech during informal conversations, ne is largely absent. But you don’t have to adopt this if you don’t want to.

5. C’est quoi la saveur? C’est quoi la grandeur?

What flavour is it? What size is it?

A customer in a café asked the employee working at the cash about a drink they serve. He wanted to know what flavour it was: c’est quoi la saveur? He also wanted to know what size it was offered in: c’est quoi la grandeur?

Questions using c’est quoi? are very commonly heard in French, for example: c’est quoi le problème?, “what’s the problem?” and c’est quoi la différence?, “what’s the difference?”

OffQc likes you, fait que like OffQc back on Facebook!

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Another example overheard on the radio:

A young girl called in to Rouge FM. The host asked her what year she was in at school. She said she was en quatrième année.

The host then asked if she found quatrième année to be difficult. She replied:

Jusqu’à date, c’est pas pire.

C’est pas pire is an expression used in Québec meaning “it’s not bad.” It means the same thing as c’est pas mal.

Jusqu’à date means “to date” or “so far” or “up until now.” It means the same thing as jusqu’à maintenant.

Although the expression jusqu’à date is considered by various sources in Québec to be incorrect (anglicism), you’ll still hear it used.

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