Posts Tagged ‘pogner’

Remember the verb pogner?

Broadly speaking, the informal pogner means to grab, catch, nab, etc. It’s pronounced ponn-yé or, using IPA, pɔɲePogner rhymes with the verb cogner.

You can use pogner to render into French I just got caught, in a colloquial style.

If pogner quelqu’un means to catch, nab someone, then se faire pogner means to get caught, nabbed.

Can you now guess how you might say it French?

Montréal [février 2016]

Montréal [février 2016]

Je viens de me faire pogner.
I just got caught.
I’ve just been caught.

Je viens de me faire pogner par la police.
I just got caught by the police.
I’ve just been caught by the police.

What about I’d just got/gotten caught — how would you say that?

Je venais de me faire pogner.
I’d just got/gotten caught.
I’d just been caught.

Je venais de me faire pogner quand j’ai réalisé…
I’d just got/gotten caught when I realised…
I’d just been caught when I realised…

Another example using je venais de:

J’avais 24 ans et je venais de terminer mes études.
I was 24 years old and I’d just finished my studies.


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In an ad on the radio, a speaker says:

On est pognés dans’ neige pendant six mois.
We’re stuck in the snow for six months.

(He was talking about life in Québec, I think!)

Pogné (from the verb pogner) means stuck here. It’s an informal usage. The expression is être pogné, to be stuck. Pogné sounds like ponnyé.

Instead of pognés dans la neige, though, the speaker said pognés dans neige. That’s because the word pair dans la can contract to dans ‘a in spoken language, which essentially sounds like dans. This contraction is sometimes shown in writing as dans’.

Using the language heard on the radio, then, to be stuck in the snow is:

être pogné dans la neige,

which is most likely to be pronounced spontaneously as:

êt’ pogné dans’ neige.

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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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I found the interesting quote below in the Journal de Montréal (27 August 2015, p.5). It was said by a woman talking about how the water in her area has been dirty, smelly and undrinkable for the past five years:

C’est pas buvable! C’est même pas sentable! Tu entres dans ta douche et l’odeur te pogne au coeur.
It’s not drinkable! It’s not even “smellable”! You go in your shower and the smell is just sickening.

L’odeur te pogne au coeur… This literally means the smell grabs your heart (the informal verb pogner means to grab, catch, etc.), but we can understand it as meaning that the smell hits you in the gut and makes you want to be sick. Why? Because the water’s pas sentable, it stinks.

That’s the really interesting usage in this quote — pas sentable. If something’s not drinkable, c’est pas buvable. And if it’s pas sentable, then it’s… not smellable!

Pogner au coeur can also be used in the sense of evoking strong emotions. For example, you might say of a touching story: ça m’a pogné au coeur, it went straight to my heart.

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I came across this short clip taken from a show by comedian Korine Côté.

Her words were transcribed by a YouTube user in this video that he’s created and posted online, but I’ve written them out below.

In the video, c’est sûre should be c’est sûr.

Moi, moi j’ai un Mac. Ah ouais, j’ai un Mac, ah ouais. Ah, j’peux faire du montage vidéo sans problèmes, ah ouais. Bon, j’en fais pas, mais j’pourrais, ouais, parce que… parce que j’ai un Mac. Ah ouais, ah ouais. Ah! t’as pogné un virus? Ahh! Moi, j’pogne pas ça avec mon Mac, ah non!… [j’]pogne pas ça des virus avec mon Mac. Bon, c’est sûr j’su’s pas compatible avec le 7/8 de la planète, mais c’pas grave.

Me, I’ve got a Mac. Oh yeah, I’ve got a Mac, oh yeah. Oh, I can edit videos (make videos montages), no problem, oh yeah. Fine, I don’t actually do it, but I could (if I wanted to), yeah, because… because I’ve got a Mac. Oh yeah, oh yeah. Oh! You got a virus? Arg! Me, I don’t get them with my Mac, nope! Don’t get viruses with my Mac. Fine, it’s true I’m not compatible with 7/8 of the planet, but no big deal.

pogner, informal verb meaning to catch, grab
pogner un virus, to get a virus, catch a virus
j’pogne (sounds like ch’pogne), informal contraction of je pogne
t’as, informal contraction of tu as
j’su’s pas (sounds like chu pas), informal contraction of je ne suis pas
c’pas (sounds like s’pas), informal contraction of ce n’est pas

This video will be added to the Listen to Québécois French section.

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If you take the métro in Montréal, I’m sure you’ve seen some new ads for an energy gum with images of people’s faces all scrunched up. Here are two of them.

What does the text on them mean?

One of the ads says:
Avant de frapper ton mur!

Another one says:
Avant de cogner des clous!

These ads are for an energy gum, so the text in both is telling us that we can chew it if we need a boost. More specifically, avant de frapper ton mur literally means before hitting your wall (i.e., before you reach the point where you can’t go on anymore); avant de cogner des clous literally means before striking nails (i.e., before you nod off to sleep).

frapper son mur
to reach one’s breaking point
to not be able to go on
to get stopped in one’s tracks

This explains why the people in the ads have their faces all scrunched up — they’ve “hit their wall.” The expression frapper un mur also exists, used in the sense of to hit an obstacle.

cogner des clous
to nod off to sleep

Think of a commuter on public transport — his head is bobbing up and down as he falls asleep, wakes up, falls asleep, wakes up… It’s as if his head were a hammer striking nails.

Cogner rhymes with the informal verb pogner that we’ve looked at many times on OffQc. They sound like [kɔɲe] and [pɔɲe]. You can hear pogner pronounced here in this video.

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Here’s a (questionable) car ad in which you’ll hear the informal verb pogner used. Can you make out the meaning of this verb here before checking the translation below? This video will be added to the Listen section.

— Julie a choisi son RAV4 pour la capacité de l’habitacle, un volume de chargement de deux mille quatre-vingt litres, l’idéal pour transporter la petite famille et tout l’équipement nécessaire pour —
— Euh, excusez?
— Oui?
— Moi, j’suis célibataire, pas d’enfants. Je l’ai acheté pour pogner.
— Ah bon?
— Mon prof de yoga, y’aime ben ça.
— La « capacitéduction ». Une autre bonne raison d’acheter une Toyota.
— Louez le RAV4 2015 pour 295 $ par mois avec zéro dollar d’acompte. Toyota, c’est moins cher que vous pensez.

— Julie chose her RAV4 for its spacious passenger compartment, a loading space of two thousand and eighty litres, the ideal (vehicle) for moving the (little) family around and all the equipment they need for —
— Uh, excuse me?
— Yes?
— I’m single, no kids. I bought it to attract someone.
— Oh, really?
— My yoga teacher, he really likes it.
— “La capacitéduction [capacité + séduction].” Another good reason to buy a Toyota.
— Lease the RAV4 2015 for $295 a month with zero down payment. Toyota, it’s cheaper than you think.

Pronunciation and usage notes

j’suis, informal contraction of je suis (the contracted j’s sounds like ch)
célibataire, single
pogner, to attract (someone); similarly, pogner avec les gars, avec les filles means to (know how to) attract guys/girls
y’aime ben ça, informal pronunciation of il aime bien ça, he really likes it; the informal ben sounds like bain

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