Posts Tagged ‘phoque’

I’ve got a backlog of interesting photos from around Montréal on my phone to share with you.

Here are a few that I’ve taken recently, all in the downtown area of Montréal. Now that spring is around the corner, it’ll be easier for someone like me with a crushed foot to get around and take photos.

From foufounes électriques, to ouate de phoque, and asking for a light from a hot guy in a bar, enjoy this little linguistic trip around Montréal.

Foufounes électriques!

Where else but in Montréal will you find a club called the “Electric bumbums”? That’s right — Montréal’s got the Foufounes électriques!

This venue is located at 87, Sainte-Catherine Est, near métro Saint-Laurent.

Click on the image to see a larger version of the front entrance to les Foufs. Right above the grey chariot in the roo, we see the word Foufounes; to the right, in smaller letters, we see électriques.

To be precise, the feminine noun foufounes used in Québécois French means “(bum) cheeks,” or les fesses. But to preserve the playful feel of the venue’s name, I think it translates better as “electric bumbums.”

One of the founders of the venue explained in The Guardian how the name was chosen: “Ass, girls and boys have one, so it’s not really sexual, and electric sounds dancy, so that’s how the name came about.”

Ouate de phoque! (… for young girls)

Maybe you’ll remember the image of a fun t-shirt in entry #687, sent in by Philip, with ouate de phoque printed on it. This is a playful French spelling of the expression “what the fuck.”

La ouate is an absorbent cotton puff or ball, like the ones that women use to apply or remove make-up. Un phoque is a seal. So in addition to the comical spelling ouate de phoque, we’ve also got wordplay: absorbent seal puffs.

There’s even a series of books for young girls in Québec called Ouate de phoque! I took a photo of the covers of two books in the series. Obviously, the vulgarity of the English expression is lost entirely in the playful French usage ouate de phoque.

I don’t think you’ll be seeing a series of books in English for young teenage girls called “What the fuck!” any time soon.

Québécois francophones do in fact use the swear word fuck, which is sometimes also spelled phonetically in French as foque. When fuck is used in French, it feels much less vulgar than in English.

One summer, I worked in Ontario alongside a québécois francophone. This was 20 years ago (ouch). At the time, my friend was still learning English. He would often say fuck around the office. I had to tell him this was very offensive to anglophone ears, and that people in the office wouldn’t appreciate it. He had no idea.

You got a light?

I spotted this tree with paper “leaves” on it at Place-des-Arts.

The leaves are in fact bits of paper with a sentence starter on it: Je me souviens…

People then fill in the rest with whatever it is they remember and want to share. On one of the leaves (see image below), someone wrote:

Je me souviens… du jour où je suis allée demander du feu au plus beau gars du bar! I remember… the day I went up to the most handsome guy at the bar and asked him for a light!

As-tu du feu? Of course, now that smoking has been banned pretty much everywhere, this classic conversation starter has fallen into disuse!

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I took a photo of some jumbo ouates in a supermarket:


Did you catch the literal meaning of ouate de phoque printed on the t-shirt in entry #687?

I wanted to take a photo of a cuddly, little phoque, but I couldn’t find any here in Saint-Léonard. Here’s one from Wikipedia instead:


Ouate de phoque? Seal puff!

Near the jumbo ouates in the supermarket were these bâtonnets ouatés:


They’re usually just called Q-Tips in regular conversations, though.

In Cynthia Dulude’s video about applying eyeliner, she says:

Vous pouvez faire des petites retouches avec un Q-Tips.
You can do little touch-ups with a Q-Tip.

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Phil sends in an image of t-shirts for sale dans le Vieux-Montréal:

Ouate de phoque

J’m’en câlice!
I don’t give a fuck!
I don’t give a damn!

Ouate de phoque
What the fuck
(pronounced the québécois way, of course)

Keep reading: WTF is a “ouate” in French? (#688)

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