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Bien verrouillerDo you know what a bike lock is called in French? What about those U-shaped bike locks… what are those called? How about locking up your bike: can you talk about this in French?

I saw this sign in a park. Bien verrouiller, c’est important! “It’s important to lock up well!” And it’s true — bike robberies are commonplace in Montréal, so be sure to never leave your bike unattended without locking it up.

The sign uses the verb verrouiller in the sense of “to lock.” But maybe you’ll remember from a previous post that the verb barrer is very frequently used in Québec in the same sense.

Barrer is pronounced with the â sound, even though the letter a in this verb isn’t actually written with the circumflex accent. Remember, â sounds something like “aw” to an English speaker.

Both of these expressions mean “to lock my bike”:

verrouiller mon vélo
barrer mon vélo

A lock is called un cadenas in French. When you say cadenas, don’t bother pronouncing that letter e in the middle, and don’t say the s on the end either. It’s pronounced cadnâ.

We can also be more specific and say cadenas pour vélo, or “bike lock,” if the context hasn’t already made it clear.

In the image, we see two kinds of locks, in fact. One is a U-shaped lock, the other one is a cable. That U-shaped lock is called un cadenas en U. The cable is called un câble. We can also call it un cadenas à câble.

You noticed that câble is spelled with â, right? This word takes the â sound.

When you choose where to lock your bike, choose something solid, like a pole, un poteau. We read on the sign:

Roue et cadre attachés à un support solide
Wheel and frame locked up to a solid support

Guess what… cadre is pronounced câdre. That’s another word that uses the â sound but it has trouble openly admitting it!

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