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Posts Tagged ‘REER’

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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In a recent blog post in the form of an open letter, Rabii Rammal writes about a trip to the épicerie (grocery store) to buy Kinder Surprise — for himself.

But he’s embarrassed about having to pay for the Kinder Surprise at the cash (he’s a fully grown man, after all).

So he picks up another item at the store to divert attention from his Kinder Surprise. He picks up des échalotes (shallots).

He chose this item to divert attention from his Kinder Surprise because: des échalotes, ça fait « je sais où j’m’en vais dans la vie ». Ça fait « j’ai des REER ». (Shallots say, “I know where I’m going in life. They say, “I’ve got RRSPs.”)

After he pays, he goes back to his car and throws the shallots on the back seat: il garroche les échalotes sur la banquette arrière. Then he begins savagely opening his Kinder Surprise.

Rabii is dismayed when he discovers that his beloved Kinder Surprise have been modified, such that there are now Kinder Surprise for boys (blue) and Kinder Surprise for girls (pink).

He says: Oh ben tabarnak. Oui. Y’ont fait ça : ils ont sexué les Kinder Surprise. (Oh well fuck. Yes. They’ve done it. They’ve genderised Kinder Surprise.)

He says that when you’re a kid, it doesn’t matter whether Kinder Surprise is for boys or for girls, parce que quand t’es kid, peu importe ton sexe, c’est toujours hot en criss une toupie (because when you’re a kid, no matter what sex you are, it’s always fuckin’ amazing to get a spinning top).

You can read Rabii’s entire letter, called Cher génie du marketing qui a mis des pénis et des vagins sur les Kinder Surprise. (Dear marketing genius who put penises and vaginas on Kinder Surprise.) You’ll learn lots of everyday Québécois French by reading Rabii Rammal.

_ _ _

une épicerie, a grocery store
une échalote, a shallot
je sais où je m’en vais, I know where I’m going
un REER (pronounced ré-èr), an RRSP
garrocher, to throw
la banquette arrière, the back seat
oh ben tabarnak, oh well fuck
quand t’es kid, when you’re a kid
c’est hot en criss, it’s fuckin’ amazing
une toupie, a (spinning) top

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French text by: Rabii Rammal, «Cher génie du marketing qui a mis des pénis et des vagins sur les Kinder Surprise», Urbania, Montréal, 6 February 2014.

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I went to the post office yesterday to deliver a package. When the cashier asked how I wanted to send it, I said: en régulier, which means that I wanted to send it by regular post.

It cost 9,65 $ to send the package, which is said in French as: neuf et soixante-cinq. On the receipt, the cashier showed me the tracking number, le numéro de suivi, so that I could track online the package’s delivery.

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Yesterday morning, I heard someone ask a friend: Comment ça va? The friend answered back by saying: Pas pire!, which means “not bad” in Québec.

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Are you pronouncing the French word suggestion correctly?

The letter g appears twice in this word, and you must pronounce each one. The first g is hard, like the g in goutte. The second g is soft, like the j in joute. What’s more, suggestion is a tsitsu word. The t is pronounced ts.

sugges-tsion

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Chris asked about the expression péter la balloune de quelqu’un in the comments section of yesterday’s post about the verb péter.

The québécois expression péter la balloune de quelqu’un means “to burst someone’s bubble,” in the sense of disappointing or bringing the person back down to earth.

In the comments, JohanneDN provided a good example of the expression: Quand j’ai reçu les résultats de mon examen de philo, ça a pété ma balloune. (When I got the results of my philosophy exam, I was disappointed/let down.)

If you’re about to give someone a reality check, you could say: Je veux pas péter ta balloune, mais… or Désolé de péter ta balloune, mais… This expression can have a cutting tone to it.

Je veux pas péter ta balloune, mais la vraie diva du Québec, c’est Ginette Reno.
I don’t wanna burst your bubble, but the real diva of Québec is Ginette Reno.
I hate to burst your bubble, but…

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Most words that end in -tion aren’t tsitsu words. For example, in information and animation, the t is pronounced like an s. So, there’s no t sound to begin with to be pronounced ts. But in words like bastion and gestion, which end in -stion, the t is indeed pronounced like a t — or, more accurately, like ts in Québec. That’s why suggestion above is a tsitsu word.

Don’t go overboard pronouncing ts and dz in tsitsu and dzidzu words. It’s not tsssssssss and dzzzzzzzzz; it’s just ts and dz. It’s said quickly like any other sound.

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I saw the advertisement in the image above in a public space in Montréal. The Fonds is promoting their RRSPs. An RRSP is a Canadian investment for retirement. In French, an RRSP is called un REER, which is pronounced ré-èr.

And, finally, the moose in the image is called un orignal in French!

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1. en régulier, by regular post
2. 9,65 $, neuf et soixante-cinq
3. un numéro de suivi, tracking number
4. pas pire, not bad
5. suggestion, check your pronunciation!
6. péter la balloune de quelqu’un, to burst someone’s bubble
7. bastion, gestion, the t is pronounced ts in Québec
8. un REER, RRSP (pronounced ré-èr)
9. un orignal, moose

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