Posts Tagged ‘Spanish’


Remember the Mansfield gym with their Fuck the excuses posters? Or how about the Be better than your best excuse ones? They’ve got some new posters outside the gym now, these ones suggesting reasons to work out:

Je le fais pour le gâteau double chocolat après le souper!
I do it for the double chocolate cake after supper!

Je le fais pour rester jeune et continuer à jouer avec mes enfants!
I do it to stay young and keep playing with my kids!

Je le fais pour pouvoir encore le faire quand j’aurai 85 ans!
I do it so I’ll still be able to do it when I’m 85 years old!

In the first sign, we’ve got the word souper. Do you remember what the three meals of the day are called in Québec?

le déjeuner, breakfast
le dîner, lunch
le souper, supper

For some (but not all) francophones elsewhere in the world, the three meals are called le petit déjeuner, le déjeuner, le dîner instead. This is the case for Parisians. The Québécois usages aren’t limited to Québec. They’re also used in Belgium and Switzerland.

The Québécois usage of déjeuner for breakfast instead of lunch makes sense. Le jeûne is a period of fasting (not eating). On jeûne through the night, and on déjeune in the morning at the déjeuner. The déjeuner breaks the jeûne.

English and Spanish also use the equivalent of déjeuner: “breakfast” breaks the fast, and desayuno breaks the ayuno.

In addition to le dîner, lunch is also called le lunch in Québec. Une boîte à lunch is a lunchbox. Sur mon heure de lunch means “on my lunch break,” like at work.

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You pig. Only a peasant says “mourir.” The correct verb is “trépasser.”

OffQc supports you fully in your quest to learn French. But, hey, let’s be honest — learning French isn’t for everybody.

If you enjoy living a life free of complexes, French is most likely not for you.

French is probably the only language in the world where the vast majority of its speakers consider practically everything said in the language to be incorrect.

You thought you could use the basic verb mourir in France? How innocent of you.

No matter what word you choose to say in any language situation, there will always be a French person only too pleased to scold you:

You pig. Only a peasant says mourir. The correct verb is trépasser. One must demonstrate respect for the French people by speaking our language beautifully. One does not callously say mon chien est mort. One must say mon canidé domestique trépassa.

What, you thought things were better in Québec?

Oh, sure, the Québécois are proud to not be a bunch of square-head anglos, but this doesn’t stop them from sweeping up their language and pushing it under the rug. Remember the expression fucker le chien, the one that the Québécois sometimes use to describe having difficulty doing something?

If you use the expression fucker le chien in Québec, your interlocutor will smile and feel flattered that you used an expression from Québec. Ultimately, however, the linguistic complex written into the DNA of every single Québécois will kick in:

Where did you learn to say that? That’s so funny. Well, it’s true that the Québécois say fucker le chien, but it’s not correct. You should say posséder sexuellement, not fucker. The word chien isn’t really correct either, tsé. You should say canidé domestique. The correct way to say the expression isn’t fucker le chien, but posséder sexuellement le canidé domestique. That’s how they say it in France. You shouldn’t speak bad like us, tsé.

If you suffer from a complex when you speak French, congratulations! You probably speak French rather well.

If you’re still free of any complex when you speak French, you’re most likely new to the language. Welcome, friend.

If you’re somewhere in the middle in the sense that you’ve not yet developed a fully fledged complex but still acknowledge there may be truth to this — and you’re going to press on in French anyway — OffQc salutes you, brave soldier.

If you’re undecided about learning French and none of this sounds terribly appealing, do yourself a favour and learn Spanish instead.

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Quétaine, on four wheels, at a Montréal shopping centre:



Anything tacky is quétaine — or like our Mexican friends say, naco.

In fact, our friend KaKo’s car, complete with five white stars and four bitchin’ mags, is only one letter away from reading NaKo.

Other ways quétaine can be said in English include kitschy, cheesy and corny.

A few examples of quétaine from around the web:

De la musique de Noël pas quétaine, est-ce que ça existe?
Is there any such thing as non-cheesy Christmas music?

J’suis quétaine pis je m’assume!
I’m tacky and I admit it!

C’est une chanson très veloutée, à la limite du quétaine, mais qui donne envie de danser collé.
It’s a very smooth song bordering on kitsch, but it makes you want to slow dance with someone.

If New York is the Big Apple, then Montréal is la Grosse Orange.

This gigantic boule orange of a restaurant near métro Namur in Montréal is also the definition of quétaine (but the good kind of quétaine, not the quétaine kind of quétaine).

Gibeau Orange Julep

Gibeau Orange Julep

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Non, merci. Je suis rassasié. Wouf.

Jude sends me a link about the use of the expression je suis plein to mean feeling full after eating.

The author there talks about how je suis plein is not used in France to describe having a full stomach.

In the case of a woman who says je suis pleine, the French may interpret this as meaning she’s pregnant.

But the author also mentions that je suis plein can indeed be heard in Québec and Belgium in the sense of having a stomach full of food.

That makes je suis plein an expression belgiquébécoise.

So, you’re not going to shock anybody in Québec if you decide to use the expression je suis plein. But if you’d rather avoid it, there are other things you can say that work everywhere French is spoken, like:

j’ai (déjà) assez mangé
j’ai (déjà) trop mangé

je n’en peux plus (or more informally j’en peux plus)

The s in plus is silent. Je n’en peux plus means: “I can’t manage [to eat] more.”

If you use these expressions to refuse the offer of more food, you’ll probably want to soften them with other words to avoid seeming rude:

Ah! C’était vraiment délicieux, mais j’ai déjà trop mangé, merci!

You might also hear someone tell you that it’s possible to say je suis rassasié or je suis repu to say that you’re full. I disagree. These expressions are much too formal to be appropriate during a conversation.

Unless you normally say things in English like: “Wow, that BigMac left me replete” or “More pizza? No, thanks, I’m satiated,” then I’d avoid rassasié and repu during conversations in French.

Does je suis plein come from the English “I am full”? I don’t know. But we should consider these points before rushing to label it an anglicism:

1. If the Belgians also say it, it’s unlikely to come from English;
2. Spanish literally says “I am full” (estoy lleno);
3. Italian also literally says “I am full” (sono pieno).

Although, if you’re Italian, you know that your nonna (grandmother) will never accept the idea that you’re full and you’ll be obligated to keep eating.

Another expression used in Québec when full of food is je suis bourré. It’s the equivalent of “I’m stuffed.”

Remember that je suis very often contracts to chu (or chui) during regular conversations: chu plein, chu bourré.

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When I lived in Istanbul in 2003, I did everything wrong to learn Turkish.


  • I took Turkish classes instead of speaking in Turkish with Turkish people.
  • I spoke in English or French with the Turkish friends that I had made, instead of speaking in Turkish.
  • I studied Turkish from a textbook used in my class, instead of reading stuff that Turkish people read.
  • I listened to recordings accompanying the textbook, instead of listening to real conversations and stuff that Turkish people listen to.

I don’t speak Turkish very well today despite all of my hard work. I can have simple conversations, but it’s far from what I’d actually call knowing how to speak Turkish.

If I could do it all over again, here’s what I’d do:

  • Never attend a single Turkish class ever again in my life.
  • Consult a textbook only very occasionally, mostly to resolve a doubt.
  • Speak in Turkish with the Turkish friends that I had made. (Duh!)
  • Perhaps use recordings made for learners, but keep it to a minimum.
  • Listen to insane amounts of real conversations in Turkish and authentic materials (TV, radio).
  • Cultivate my sense of adventure and throw caution to the wind.

In fact, that’s exactly how I learned Spanish.

With Turkish, I took a much more “traditional” approach. By that, I mean that I studied it like a subject. How stupid of me! I was much smarter when the time came for me to learn Spanish.

The truth is that I really didn’t care about learning Spanish at the time. This indifference towards Spanish allowed me to get rid of all my inhibitions.

I spoke when I wanted to, said it any old way I knew how, and just didn’t give a damn what people thought. I listened to anything in Spanish just for the hell of it. I didn’t care if I understood it or not.

I speak fluent Spanish today.

Turkish, on the other hand…

I cared very much about learning Turkish. I might even say too much. I tried to “manage” my learning. I tried to do everything in graded doses so that I wouldn’t scare myself too much by coming up against what I couldn’t understand.

What I should have done was just say to hell with it like I later did with Spanish.

I’m not saying you should stop caring about learning French. That would be silly.

What I’m saying is:

  • Stop worrying about learning French.

What I’m also saying is:

  • Expose yourself to lots of French that you don’t understand. If what you don’t understand exhausts and frustrates you, you’re worrying about learning French. See the bulleted point immediately above.
  • Ditch your inhibitions. They are not your friends. They will only hold you back.
  • Stop trying to manage your learning like at school. You’ll never feel at home in French unless you stop doing that.
  • To hell with what you don’t understand right now. You’ll understand it someday without having to force it.
  • Drop your guard and make mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not even trying.

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