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Posts Tagged ‘wordplay’

Have a look at this billboard in French advertising used cars (autos usagées or voitures d’occasion) in Montréal:

On « trippe » sur les vieilles

We’ve seen how tripper sur (quelque chose) means to really go for (something), to be totally into (something), to dig (something).

J’trippe sur sa nouvelle toune.
I really love his latest song.

Tripper can also mean to have a blast.

C’est certain que tu vas tripper.
You’re gonna have such a blast.

Tripper is an informal verb deriving from English (trip); it isn’t unusual to see words of this sort set off by guillemets, like here.

This billboard has two meanings — a literal one, and one the result of wordplay meant to catch the attention of passers-by.

The literal one is they’re saying they love old cars (vieilles voitures). On trippe sur les vieilles; we love old ones.

As for the one resulting from wordplay, can you guess this one on your own?

(If you’re studying contractions, then you know how the words sur les on this billboard can be pronounced spontaneously. See chapter 5 of Contracted French. You also know how j’trippe sounds, if that’s what this sign had said instead. See chapter 1.)

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In entry #952, we saw a wall ad from the Yellow Pages in métro McGill (image on right). The ad is promoting a phone app that helps people to find businesses in the area.

In the ad, the French word pointe is used in reference to both rush hour and slices of pizza. You can go back and read the post about here, if you missed it.

In fact, métro McGill is currently plastered from one end of the platform to the other with yellow ads from the Yellow Pages.

Here’s another one that contains some Québécois usages.

A little sign on the wall reads:

Vous vous sentez gratteux?

We saw the word gratteux recently, in entry #943. There, we looked at how the adjective gratteux can be used in the sense of cheap or stingy, whereas the masculine noun gratteux refers to a scratch-and-win lottery ticket.

On either side of this little sign is a larger sign.

(The little sign that reads vous vous sentez gratteux? is in the middle of the two signs above, but you can’t see it in this image because it’s dark.)

The sign to the left of the little one reads:

2 friperies pour vous habiller à petit prix

And the one to the right reads:

88 dépanneurs pour acheter un billet de loterie

So the question vous vous sentez gratteux? takes on two different meanings here.

Vous vous sentez gratteux?
2 friperies pour vous habiller à petit prix
Feeling stingy?
2 second-hand clothes shops to buy cheap clothes

Vous vous sentez gratteux?
88 dépanneurs pour acheter un billet de loterie
Feeling ‘scratch-and-win’?
88 dépanneurs to buy a lottery ticket

That’s a lot of vocab in these past two posts, so here’s a review of it:

l’heure de pointe, rush hour
c’est l’heure de pointe, it’s rush hour
une pointe de pizza, a slice of pizza
une pointe aux champignons, a mushroom slice (of pizza)
gratteux, cheap, stingy
un gratteux, a scratch-and-win lottery ticket
gratter, to scratch
un dépanneur, a small shop selling snacks, milk, newspapers, cigarettes…
une friperie, a second-hand clothing shop

Yes, no, toaster!

There’s yet another sign from the Yellow Pages in métro McGill that reads:

«Yes, no, toaster!»
Votre anglais est limité? Il y a 61 écoles de langue à Montréal.
“Yes, no, toaster!”
Don’t speak much English? There are 61 language schools in Montréal.

What’s up with the yes, no, toaster bit in this ad?

Yes, no, toaster is an expression – it’s not something the Yellow Pages made up. It’s a facetious way of pointing to a person’s minimal knowledge of English (i.e., the only English that person knows is yes, no and toaster).

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I spotted this ad from the Yellow Pages in métro McGill, in Montréal. It’s promoting a phone app. The ad is on the wall beside a pizzeria on the floor above, just outside of the métro station.

There’s a play on words in this ad. Can you figure it out?

You need to know two things in French to understand this ad:

1. l’heure de pointe means rush hour
2. a slice of pizza is called une pointe

C’est l’heure de pointe
It’s rush hour / “slice” time

ici (pointing to the métro platform)
here

et là (pointing to the pizzeria window)
and there

The term une pointe de pizza is used in Québec. When ordering in a pizzeria, you can just say pointe — it’s understood that you’re talking about pizza.

Une pointe toute garnie (the works), une pointe végétarienne (vegetarian), une pointe aux champignons (mushrooms), une pointe au fromage (cheese), une pointe mexicaine (Mexican), etc.

Bonjour! J’prendrais une pointe aux épinards, s’il vous plaît.
Hello! I’ll take a slice of spinach, please.

or simply

Bonjour! Une pointe aux épinards, s’il vous plaît.

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Saw this in a tea shop window in Montréal:

thé mon amour

A friend from Central America took a beginner’s French course. In class, they learned that tu es means “you are,” but they never got around to learning that tu es contracts to t’es in spoken language.

This really baffles me. T’es isn’t an obscure contraction. T’es is a high frequency usage that should be introduced right from the beginning.

T’es sounds like (or like the French word thé in the window).

thé mon amour
tea my love

t’es mon amour
you’re my love

Oh, it’s a Valentine’s Day tea pun!
N’est-ce pas romanteaque? N’est-ce pas — oh, fine, I’ll stop.

A few essential spoken contractions to know using tu:

t’es for tu es
t’as for tu as
t’étais for tu étais
t’avais for tu avais
t’en for tu en

In short, tu loses its u before a vowel.

Don’t be afraid to try using these contractions yourself in conversations. They’re so frequently used that nobody’s going to even notice.

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I came across the ad in the first image in a public space in Montréal. It’s from a mobile phone company called Fido, who always use dogs in their ads. This one says:

On a du flair pour les bonnes affaires
We’ve got flair for good deals

There’s wordplay here because the text reminds us of the French verb flairer, which is something that dogs do: “to sniff.”

Le chien policier a flairé 50 kilos de pot.
The police dog sniffed out 50 kilos of pot.

The t in pot in the sense of marijuana is pronounced. It sounds like potte.

This ad from Fido reminded me of six expressions used in Québec related to dogs (and bitches):

1. ton chien est mort
2. avoir du chien
3. fucker le chien
4. avoir la chienne
5. donner la chienne
6. c’est chien

Ton chien est mort. You’re shit outta luck!

1. ton chien est mort

If your dog is dead, it’s because your chances of achieving something have all gone out the window.

Imagine you’re a guy who really wants to go out with a certain girl you’ve been interested in for a long time. Just when you’ve finally worked up the courage to ask her out, you discover she’s begun going out with a guy a thousand times more attractive than you… Fuhgeddaboudit, guy. Ain’t gonna happen. Your dog is dead. Ton chien est mort. You no longer stand a chance!

You can also say mon chien est mort and son chien est mort.

2. avoir du chien

If you’ve “got dog,” it’s because you’re determined. You’ve got personality. You’re a go-getter.

Ces deux jeunes-là ont du chien et réalisent de grandes choses.
Those two young people are go-getters and are doing big things.

Elle a du talent et du chien.
She’s got talent and determination.

3. fucker le chien

Fucker le chien?This expression literally means “to fuck the dog.”

The idea behind this expression is to waste time or go around in circles trying to accomplish something.

A variation on this expression is fourrer le chien. The verb fourrer also means “to fuck.”

Fucker is pronounced foquer.

J’ai fucké le chien dans ma jeunesse.
I did fuck-all in my youth.

J’ai fucké le chien pour modifier mon mot de passe.
I had a fuck of a hard time trying to change my password.

J’ai fucké le chien avec ça pendant deux mois.
I had a fuck of a hard time with that for two months.

4. avoir la chienne

Une chienne is the female form of chien. So, this expression literally means “to have the bitch.” If you’ve got the bitch, it’s because you’re terrified, frightened.

This expression has in fact already appeared twice on OffQc.

In entry #225, a character called Brigitte from the television show 30 vies tells a colleague she must get tested for cancer. She admits to being terrified:

J’ai tellement la chienne.
I’m so terrified.

In entry #238, we saw that a newspaper headline read:

Les libraires ont la chienne
Booksellers are terrified

The newspaper article was about how booksellers are terrified at the idea of becoming irrelevant due to the advent of the iPad.

5. donner la chienne

This is similar to number 4; donner la chienne means to terrify, to frighten.

Ça me donne la chienne.
It frightens me.

Les hôpitaux me donnent la chienne.
Hospitals terrify me.

6. c’est chien

In this expression, chien means méchant.

C’est chien de dire ça, mais c’est vrai.
It’s a nasty thing to say, but it’s true.

C’est vraiment chien ce que t’as fait.
What you did was really mean.

C’est vraiment chien ce que je vais dire, mais…
What I’m about to say is really nasty, but…

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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!

Tabarouette!
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.

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Remember this ad aimed at people with drug addictions?

Tanné d’être gelé?
Had it with being stoned?
Sick of being stoned?

Literally, gelé means frozen.

That sums up how someone who’s stoned looks.

Tanné means fed up. So, je suis tanné (which you can also hear pronounced informally as chu tanné or chui tanné), means “I’m fed up” or “I’ve had it.”

Tanné d'être gelé?I saw a new version of the ad the other day.

Now that it’s summer, the ad reads like this:

Tanné d’être gelé?
même l’été

It’s a play on words:

Had it with being frozen (i.e., stoned), even in the summer?

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