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Posts Tagged ‘pronunciation’

Here’s a great audio overview of the main pronunciation features of Québécois French. It’s made available by Université Laval.

You can listen to vowels, consonants and 30 example sentences, pronounced by a Québécoise.

In the example sentences, you’ll notice letters between parentheses. This reflects the colloquial pronunciation where certain letters go unpronounced. Each letter in parentheses could be replaced by an apostrophe.

Here’s some help with the meaning of the 30 sentences:

le bain avant le dodo, ti-fille
bath before bedtime, young lady

Ti comes from petit, petite.

des barniques
specs (as in glasses to correct one’s vision)

je vais manger autre chose d’abord
I’m going to eat something else then

D’abord means “then” here, not “first of all.” It’s a Québécois usage.

Another example: OK, d’abord! OK, then!

toute frette
all cold

Frette is an informal pronunciation of froid.

c’est quelque chose
it’s really something (i.e., impressive)

un insignifiant
a nobody

se manger la laine sur le dos
to take advantage of one another

c’est pas ça qui met plus de pain dans la corbeille
that’s not what puts bread on the table
(lit., more bread in the basket)

ç’a pas d’bon sens
ça l’a pas d’bon sens

it’s crazy, ridiculous,
it makes no sense

Exceptionally, the final s in sens is not pronounced in this expression.

Ç’a and ça l’a both mean ça a.

Ç’a is a contraction of ça a, and ça l’a has a letter L stuck in there to make pronouncing ça a easier informally.

I recommend using ç’a instead of ça l’a, which you can just learn to recognise. Ç’a sounds like sa.

Another example: ç’a été long (means ça a été long).

un barrage
a dam

supporter quelqu’un
to stand someone
to put up with someone

pas pire pas en toute
pas pire pantoute
not bad at all

c’est de l’ouvrage
it’s a lot of work

bastringue
stuff

y m’a faite freaker au boute
he totally freaked me out

Boute is an informal pronunciation of bout. Au boute (au boutte) means “to the max.” The pronunciation boute can often be heard in a number of informal expressions, like this one.

recouper les informations
to cross-check the information

terminus, tout le monde débarque
last stop, everybody out

pis tu t’en vas direct dans le lite
an’ yer goin’ straight to bed

Lit is sometimes pronounced informally as lite (litte). You can just recognise this and keep pronouncing li yourself.

Another example: Nuit is sometimes pronounced nuitte. Again, you can just recognise this and continue pronouncing nui.

Native speakers don’t expect you to say litte and nuitte. If you do, they just might correct you! Li and nui are acceptable pronunciations in all language situations in Québec.

oupelay
woops, woopsedaisy

y s’est-tu trompé ou quoi?
did he make a mistake or what?

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At a restaurant, I found a pair of keys at the counter. I picked them up and asked a man beside me if they were his. He said he had in fact seen the keys sitting there on the counter before, but they weren’t his.

He said:

Ah! j’es ai vues tantôt.
Oh, I saw ’em before!

What’s going on in this sentence?

First, here’s what it sounds like: jé zé vu tan tô.

What happened here is les got shortened to ‘es. It lost its first letter. It’s not so strange; that happens in English too: “I saw ’em.”

les = them
‘es = ’em

je les ai vues
(sounds like je lé zé vu)
I saw them

j’es ai vues
(sounds like jé zé vu)
I saw ’em

Contracting les to ‘es like this is an informal feature only, just like dropping the “th” in “them.” You don’t have to adopt this feature yourself when you speak, but you do need to recognise it.

What about tantôt?

This is a very useful word. It’s used to refer to a moment in the near past or in the near future.

Désolé pour tantôt.
Sorry about earlier on.
Sorry for what happened earlier on.

Merci pour tantôt.
Thanks for earlier on.
Thanks for what you did earlier on.

Tantôt tu disais que…
You were just saying how…
You just finished saying how…

À tantôt!
See you in a bit!

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I like Lisa LeBlanc’s profile description on Twitter (@lisaleblancyo):

J’fais du Folk-Trash, j’viens d’un village de 40 personnes pi j’u tannée de chanter des chansons fi-filles.

I do trash folk, I come from a village of 40 people an’ I’m sick of singing girly-girl songs.

Le folk-trash is what Lisa LeBlanc calls her musical genre. Her music is folk, but the lyrics are bolder and… trashier.

For example, her song called Câlisse-moi là means “Fucking dump me,” and the one called Ma vie, c’est de la marde means “My life is shitty.”

We’ve seen hundreds of times on OffQc that pis is very frequently used as a synonym of et. Pis is a contraction of puis. It’s pronounced pi, and that’s exactly how Lisa LeBlanc has chosen to spell it here.

Unlike et though, pis is an informal usage only. We can say pis is just as informal sounding (and just as normal sounding) as English’s “and” contracted to “an’.”

What’s that j’u in there? It means je suis. We’ve also seen many, many times on OffQc how je suis can contract informally to j’suis, which sounds like chu or chui. Lisa LeBlanc has chosen to spell it as j’u here, but it sounds like chu.

Do you wonder where the ch sound in chu comes from? When je suis contracts to j’suis, the j’s is pronounced ch.

The informally contracted j’s always sounds like ch, which is also why je sais contracted to j’sais sounds like ché.

Every self-respecting learner of Québécois French must master the expression être tanné de! It means “to be fed up with,” “to be tired of,” “to be sick of,” “to have had enough of.”

The expression être tanné de can be followed by a noun or a verb: Chu tannée de chanter des chansons fi-filles. Chu tannée des chansons fi-filles.

Remember that tannée is the feminine form; the masculine form is tanné.

One last word to look at from the description: fi-fille. If Lisa LeBlanc’s music is trash folk or du folk-trash, then it’s definitely not gonna sound all prissy with sappy love songs and shit. I mean, just fuckin’ câlisse-moi là, right?

The fi part of fi-fille is a shortening of fille. If we wanted to translate fi-fille very literally, we’d get gi-girl or gi-girly. Nobody says that in English though, so fi-fille means “prissy,” “girly-girl” or just “girly.”

If you had trouble understanding Lisa LeBlanc’s profile description at the beginning of this post, read it again now:

J’fais du Folk-Trash, j’viens d’un village de 40 personnes pi j’u tannée de chanter des chansons fi-filles.

Now go read or reread all the posts on OffQc related to Lisa LeBlanc or discover her trashy, anti-fi-fille music on her website!

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In entry #815, we saw an image of a sign from la SAQ (Société des alcools du Québec) in a bus shelter. The masculine term pouche-pouche was used on that sign, which refers to a spray bottle.

The ad told us we could stay cool this summer by spraying mist on ourselves with a pouche-pouche, or we could head over to the SAQ to make a purchase:

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

If you click on the first image, you’ll see it full-size.

The second image is a new one. It’s another sign from the SAQ on the same theme of keeping cool. The sign reads:

Retournez dans le sous-sol chez vos parents ou passez à la SAQ
Go back to your parents’ basement or visit the SAQ
(i.e., move back into your parents’ basement or visit the SAQ)

The sign is telling us that we can keep cool by moving back into our parents’ basement or that we can visit the SAQ to make a purchase.

The basement of a house, or le sous-sol, is much cooler than the rest of the house. It’s also the place where some not-so-young-anymore people live when they haven’t moved away from home yet…

In addition to le sous-sol, learn the word la cave. The cave of a house is also its basement. It looks like the English word “cave,” but be sure not to pronounce it like that. It’s a French word, so it rhymes with bave.

dans le sous-sol de tes parents
dans la cave de tes parents

in your parents’ basement

In fact, we saw the word cave in the sense of basement in entry #776, where it was used as part of an informal expression unique to Québec:

avoir de l’eau dans la cave
to be wearing pants that are too short
(literally, to have water in the basement)

If you’ve got a flooded basement, you’d roll up the bottom part of your trousers to avoid getting them wet when walking around.

Someone who wears pants that are too short for his legs looks a little like someone who’s got water problems at home in the basement!

Remember, dans la has a tendency of contracting in informal speech. This is sometimes shown in writing as dans’ or dan’. (The la kind of gets swallowed up.) This means you might hear dans la cave de tes parents pronounced as dans’ cave de tes parents. Similarly, the informal expression avoir de l’eau dans la cave can sound like avoir d’l’eau dans cave.

The word cave has another meaning in Québec, but it’s unrelated to basements: it can also mean “stupid,” “idiot.”

Prends-moi pas pour un cave!
I’m not stupid, you know!
(literally, don’t take me for an idiot)

Arrête de faire le cave!
Stop acting like an idiot!

C’est un gros cave.
He’s such an idiot.

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Below is a random sentence that came up in a Google search. The sentence was posted in an online car forum.

The guy who wrote this sentence was looking for someone who could do touch-ups (faire des retouches, faire des touch-up) to his car’s paint job:

J’veux un gars de confiance, pas un bullshitteux ou un gars qui va botcher mon auto.

I want a guy I can trust, not some “bullshitter” or some guy who’s gonna mess up my car.

It’s a short example, but there’s some interesting stuff to look at here.

Even though gars is spelled with an r and s, be sure not to pronounce those letters. Gars sounds like gâ.

You’ll hear the word gars all the time. For example, in the summer months, you’ll see les gars de la construction busy at work. They’re construction guys.

Un bullshitteux (pronounced boulechitteux) in this example is someone who doesn’t take his work seriously or doesn’t know what he’s doing — a wanker. The guy who wrote this doesn’t want some bullshitteux messing up his car.

Then there’s la bullshit (sounds like boulechite). If someone says something nonsensical or that doesn’t hold up to scrutiny, ben… c’est de la bullshit.

C’est de la bullshit ce que tu racontes.
What you’re saying is bullshit.

When the guy talked about not wanting a bullshitteux to mess up his car, he used the verb botcher. It comes from the English verb “to botch.”

C’est un bullshitteux qui va botcher ton auto.
He’s a “bullshitter” who’s gonna mess up your car.
That guy’s gonna do a shit job and mess up your car.

Words used for “car” in Québec are une auto, un char, une voiture. The most informal of the three is un char.

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Yesterday we looked at three uses of the French verb virer:

  • virer fou
  • virer au vert
  • virer à droite

Tu dois faire quelque chose, sinon tu vas virer folle.
You have to do something, otherwise you’ll go crazy.

Mon pied a viré au vert.
My foot turned green.

J’ai pogné un ticket parce que j’ai viré à droite sur une rouge.
I got stuck with a ticket because I turned right on a red.

But we’re not finished with virer yet because Benoît’s comment yesterday made me realise there are a few more good expressions using virer to learn.

Let’s add these expressions then to your knowledge of virer:

  • virer sur le côté
  • virer sur le top
  • virer une brosse

You see that truck in the image? It’s flipped over on the side. We can say:

Le camion a viré sur le côté.
The truck flipped over on the side.

Another expression that immediately comes to mind now is virer sur le top. If a car had completely flipped over and landed on its roof, we might say:

Le char était complètement viré sur le top.
The car was completely flipped over on the top.

Remember how sur le often sounds in colloquial language? Like sul. It’s an informally contracted form of sur le.

Le camion a viré sul côté.
Le char était viré sul top.

Hmm, wonder how that truck flipped over sur le côté? Let’s hope it had nothing to do with drinking and driving…

A few posts ago we saw that the expression être chaud is one way to describe the state of being drunk. But to get to that state in the first place, you have to virer une brosse:

virer une brosse
to get drunk
to get loaded
to get wasted

After you go and virer une brosse, you become chaud.

J’ai viré une brosse au bar pis j’étais trop chaud pour conduire.
I got drunk at the bar and I was too drunk to drive.

Si t’as assez d’argent pour aller virer une brosse, t’as assez d’argent pour un taxi.
If you’ve got enough money to go out and get drunk, you’ve got enough money for a taxi.

So here’s everything you now know about the verb virer:

virer fou
virer folle
to go crazy

virer au vert
virer au jaune
virer au noir
to turn green
to turn yellow
to turn black

virer à droite
virer à gauche
to turn right
to turn left

virer sur le côté
to flip over on the side

virer sur le top
to flip over on the top

virer une brosse
to get drunk

Hold on, not finished just yet.

The expression virer sur le top has a few more uses than just the one above.

Quand j’ai appris la nouvelle, j’ai complètement viré sur le top.
When I heard the news, I totally flipped out (in anger).

Je vire sur le top pour un sac de chips.
I always go crazy for a bag of chips (because I like chips so much).

Faut être viré sur le top pour faire ça.
Ya gotta be totally crazy to do that.

So virer sur le top means to flip upsidedown, both literally and as an emotion.

Oh, just one more thing…

Virer une brosse can also be said as prendre une brosse.

That’s it!

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This text message exchange comes from the Les Parent Facebook page.

Les Parent is a comedy from Québec. The name of the show really is Les Parent and not Les Parents, because Parent is a surname, and a common too — like the singer Kevin Parent. The name of the show means “The Parent Family” and not “The Parents.”

This exchange of textos takes place between Thomas and his mother. The green textos are from the mother, the grey ones from Thomas.

Bonne journée, mon Thomas.
Have a good day, [my] Thomas.

Bonne journée?
Have a good day?

C’est ça, réponds-moi pas.
That’s right, don’t answer me.

On sait ben. C’est juste ta mère qui te texte. Mais si c’est ta blonde ou tes amis, tu réponds dans la SECONDE.
We all know. It’s just your mother texting you. But if it’s your girlfriend or your friends, you answer within a SECOND.

Pas quand je conduis.
Not when I’m driving.

Tu conduis?
You’re driving?

OUI!
YES!

LÂCHE TON CELL TOUT DE SUITE, TU M’ENTENDS!
DROP YOUR CELL IMMEDIATELY, YOU HEAR ME!

_ _ _

Remember, in Québec the â in lâcher sounds like “aww.” Lawwwche ton cell!

A smartphone is called un téléphone intelligent. Un texto is a text message, and texter (quelqu’un) means “to text (someone).”

on sait ben = on sait bien
ta blonde, your girlfriend
dans la seconde, within a second
lâcher quelque chose, to put something down
un cell, cell phone, mobile phone

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