Posts Tagged ‘smoking’

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!

Read Full Post »

In the Parent family, there are three sons. The youngest one is Zak, the middle one is Oli, and the oldest one is Thomas.

In this text message exchange, Oli steals Zak’s phone and sends messages to his mother, pretending to be Zak.

Can you guess what kind of messages an older brother would send to his mother while pretending to be his little brother?

M’man, j’ai commencé à fumer.
Maman, I’ve started smoking.


Mais juste quand je bois beaucoup d’alcool.
But just when I drink lots of alcohol.

Si ça te rend heureux 🙂
If that’s what makes you happy 🙂

Mais ça coûte cher pis il me reste pu de $ pour acheter des condoms.
But it’s expensive and I don’t have any money left to buy condoms.

As-tu pensé à voler Oli? C’est mon moins favori. Surtout qd il niaise avec le cell de Zak.
Why don’t you steal it from Oli? He’s my least favourite (son). Especially when he fools around with Zak’s cell.

Comment t’as su?
How did you know?

Il est devant moi. Et il txt ta blonde avec ton cell en ton nom.
He (Zak) is right in front of me. And he’s txting your girlfriend with your cell using your name.

pis, and (sounds like pi)
pu = plus
il me reste pu $ = il [ne] me reste p[l]u[s] d’argent
acheter des condoms, to buy condoms
voler Oli, to rob Oli, to steal from Oli
qd = quand
niaiser avec, to mess around with
le cell d’Oli, Oli’s cell phone
t’as = tu as
su = from the verb savoir
il txt = il texte
texter ta blonde, to text your girlfriend

Les Parent Facebook page
Les Parent is also on tou.tv

Read Full Post »

Here are 5 new items for you to learn in French:

  • 3 colloquial French expressions overheard in Montréal
  • 2 images related to dogs seen in Montréal

1. Hier y’a fait chaud en tabarouette!

It was darn hot yesterday!

A man said this the day after the temperature had warmed up a little. He exaggerated though by saying that it was really hot the day before, even if the temperature wasn’t in fact hot (it was just warmer than usual).

Y’a is an informal pronunciation of il, so y’a fait chaud is a colloquial pronunciation of il a fait chaud.

Tabarouette sounds like ta-bar-wett. The expression en tabarouette makes the adjective that comes before it stronger. Tabarouette derives from the québécois swear word tabarnak, but tabarouette is a non-offensive version of it (like “darn” instead of “damn”).

C’est cher en tabarouette!
It’s darn expensive!

Darn! Holy cow!

2. Qu’est-ce tu fais à soir?

Whaddya doin’ tonight?

The girl that said this didn’t ask qu’est-ce que tu fais à soir?, she asked qu’est-ce tu fais à soir? She dropped the word que. This often happens during informal French conversations before the word tu. Qu’est-ce on its own without the que sounds like kess.

Remember, tu in Québec sounds like tsu.

Qu’est-ce tu fais?
(kess tsu fè)
What’re you doin’?

Qu’est-ce tu veux?
(kess tsu veu)
Whaddya want?

Qu’est-ce t’en penses?
(kess tan pense)
Whaddya think (about that)?

À soir means the same thing as ce soir. In most forms of writing, it’s better to use ce soir. In regular conversations, you’ll hear both ce soir and à soir.

3. Ah ok, là j’comprends!

Ah ok, now I understand!
Ah ok, now I get it!

Maintenant isn’t the only way to say “now” in French. In Québec, is very often used instead. Sometimes you’ll even hear it repeated for extra effect.

Là là, chu tanné!
Now I’m really fed up!
Now I’ve really had it!

Chu is an informal pronunciation of je suis.

Votre animal fait un effort4. Votre animal fait un effort, faites le vôtre!

If your animal can make an effort, so can you!

This funny sign in Montréal asks dog owners to make an effort (i.e., pick up after their dog) after their dog has “made an effort” (i.e., gone poo).

Merci de ramasser
Thank you for picking up (after your dog)

Remember, ramasser in Québec is pronounced ramâsser. The accented â sounds something like “aww.”

If the word contains â, that’s easy: say “aww.” But some words take the “aww” sound even if they aren’t written with the accent. Here’s a list of 50 French words pronounced with the “aww” sound but not written with the accented â.

Remember, it isn’t necessary for you to pronounce â as “aww” to make yourself understood. If you pronounce â like a regular a sound, everybody will understand you. At the very least, learn to hear the difference between the â and a sounds so that you recognise the word that people are saying.

Nouvelle aire d'exercice canin5. Nouvelle aire d’exercice canin

New dog exercise area

A little farther down the street, I spotted another sign related to dogs.

This sign tells us that in May 2014 the fenced off area will become a zone for dogs to run around in.

The masculine word air means “air.” The feminine word aire means “zone” or “area.” Maybe you’ll remember this no-smoking sign in French containing a play on the words air and aire.

Read Full Post »

Le mégot n'est pas un engraisThis little sign in a flowerbed outside the Complexe Desjardins in Montréal reminds people in a unique way to avoid leaving their cigarette butts among the plants:

Le mégot n’est pas un engrais!
SVP utilisez les cendriers

1. Mégot

Un mégot is a cigarette butt, the part of the cigarette that’s left over after it’s been smoked. This sign tells us that cigarette butts are not fertilisers, le mégot n’est pas un engrais!

2. Cendrier

The sign also tells smokers where to put their cigarette butts: in the ashtrays, les cendriers. The word un cendrier can refer to both an ashtray in someone’s home and the tall vertical ones in public places.

3. Botch

In Québec, you may hear another word for mégot during informal conversations: un botch (de cigarette).

Le cendrier était plein de botchs de cigarette.
The ashtray was full of cigarette butts.

Jette pas tes botchs par terre!
Don’t throw your butts on the ground!

4. Botcher

You may also hear the verb botcher, which refers to putting out the cigarette. In fact, you’ve already heard this verb before in a video from a past entry: Jean-François Mercier comically remarks on the fact that his anti-nicotine attack dog Roxie can’t put out cigarettes herself.

Roxie, je le sais que tu comprends pas pourquoi qu’y’a des gens qui fument. J’ai jamais fumé, pis t’as jamais fumé non plus. Pis ça tombe bien parce que t’aurais pas été capable de botcher, à cause que t’es[-t-]un chien…

Roxie, I know you don’t understand why there are people who smoke. I’ve never smoked, and you’ve never smoked either. Which is a good thing because you’d have never been able to put your cigarette out, ‘cos you’re a dog…

Here’s the entire French transcript and translation into English.

5. Puff

Another informal word used in Québec is une puff, which is a puff or drag of smoke. We could also spell it as une poffe. In a scene from the television show Les Parent, Natalie asks for a puff of cigarette from another character:

Me passerais-tu une puff? Juste une p’tite…
Can I have a puff? Just a little one…

[Les Parent, season 4, episode 9, Radio-Canada,
Montréal, 7 November 2011]


Veux-tu une poffe?
Donne-moi une poffe.

Do you want a puff?
Give me a puff.

And a play on words…

Here’s another image related to smoking, this time from Place Ville Marie. The sign reads:

Aire sans fumée
Smoke-free zone

Une aire is a zone.

There’s a play on words happening here. You’ll notice that the letter e in aire is in a different colour to the rest of the text. If we drop that letter, we’re left with:

Air sans fumée
Smoke-free air

Both aire and air are pronounced the same way.

Read Full Post »

In entry #595, I posted a video where comedian Jean-François Mercier pokes fun at smokers by professing his love for his anti-nicotine attack dog Roxie.

Let’s look at two parts of that video, where Mercier uses language you might find difficult. I’ve reposted the video below for convenience, but you can return to the original entry for the transcription and translation into English.

1. Mercier says:
[…] tu comprends pas pourquoi qu’y’a des gens qui fument.

This means: tu ne comprends pas pourquoi il y a des gens qui fument.

Instead of il y a, Mercier pronounces this informally as y’a. This occurs very frequently in spoken French.

He also stuck in que after pourquoi. You don’t need to adopt this yourself, just recognise that sometimes you’ll hear it.

He also left out ne in his sentence, using only pas to negate. This happens very frequently in spoken French.

2. Mercier says:
[…] à cause que t’es-t-un chien.

This means: parce que tu es un chien.

À cause que means the same thing as parce que. The use of à cause que has fallen out of use elsewhere in the francophonie but you can still hear it in spoken French in Québec. It’s not used in formal language. On the other hand, parce que can be heard at all levels of language, and Mercier does in fact also say parce que in the video.

Rather than tu es, Mercier says t’es. This occurs very frequently in spoken French. You’ll also hear him say t’aurais instead of tu aurais, t’étais instead of tu étais, and t’as instead of tu as.

Mercier also slipped in a -t- liaison between es and un (t’es-t-un chien). You don’t need to adopt this feature, just recognise it.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »