February 1, 2021

French and Québec French for dummies

“When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” 

When abroad it is always highly appreciated by the locals that you, as a tourist/ foreigner, be informed on the habits and customs and behave accordingly to them. Furthermore, knowing a bit of the local language is always a big plus to be able to communicate correctly, especially if you come to live in such a country/city. To understand and to be understood makes life easier for everyone even if just a little. It might take you a minute to pick up on the basis of the local language which could be due to the constant evolution that language goes through, the slangs that do not come to you easily, or because it is a hard language in itself, but do not give up! There are tons of ways to learn a language (*cough* internet *cough*…), and people native to the language would be more than happy to teach you as well. I’ll attempt to teach you a bit of French for now.

As a French from France living in Montreal, Quebec, I didn’t have to learn a new language per se but new slang. Quebec French is like the older sibling version of the French from France whom due to history, immigration, and globalization has enriched its lexicon with words from various regions of Africa and the east, and English. Today’s match is the legendary “France vs Quebec” vocabulary face off.

Here is my little lexicon table:

French Québec WordFrench Word English WordNotes 
(un)* Char(une) Bagnole / Auto Car
(ma) Blonde(petite) CopineGirlfriendWithout the (petit(e)) in front of Copin(e) you could be talking about a friend but it is a bit treacherous as French from France speakers usually do not bother saying the Petit(e), (yeah, you in for a ride). 
(mon) Chum(petit) CopainBoyfriend
(une) Creme Glace (une) GlaceIce cream
(un) Caribou (un) RenneReindeer
BarrerFermerTo Close 
Brosser (une) CuiteA hangover
(un) Cellulaire (telephone) Portable Cellphone
(ma) FêteAnniversaire Birthday 
(le) Déjeuner Petit déjeunerBreakfastThe first meal of the day 
(le) DînerDéjeunerLunchThe second 
(le) SouperDîner DinnerThe last 
(un) Froque ManteauCoat
(des) GougounesTongues, claquettesSlides, flip-flops
(une) TuqueUn bonnet, ChapeauA beanie, Hat
(la) Gomme à mache(une) Chewing-gumA Chewing gumOne good exemple of french trying to be “cool” by using the english term 
Magaziner ShoppingTo Shop 
Pentoute Pas du tout, Rien Not at all, nothing
BraillerPleurerTo cry 
Quessé?Qu’est ce que c’est?What is it/that?
JaserParlerTo speak/chat 
Rentrer EntrerTo go inIn French from France “rentrer” would mean to go back somewhere, like “je rentre a la maison” is “I am going back home”. 
(se) Tirer une buche S’assoir To sit 
(une) Saccoche(un) Sac à mainA handbag
SuçonSucetteLollipop
*(…)All words in parenthesis refer to the gender of the word.
(Un) and (le) is Masculine, (une) and (la) is feminine, (des) and (les) is plurals.

Now that you have all these new words to add to your high school French lexicon let’s add some more of the “non-Holy” words that exist and used more than they should by french speakers. Quebec’s Big 3 are Osti, Tabarnak, and Calisse. France’s Big 3: Putain, merde, con/connard  Now, in context and in its full glory, you might hear something like: “Osti de tabarnak de sacrament, de câlice de ciboire de criss de marde!” in Quebec, which in English would come down to a good old F-word, and in France to a “Nom de dieu de putain de bordel de merde de saloperie de connard d’enculé de ta mère.” or “Nom de dieu de putain de bordel de saloperie de couille de merde”, compliments of Merovingian from the Matrix who also states that “ It’s like wiping your arse with silk”. Thanks, Merovingian, highly appreciated.

That is all I got for you, keep all that on paper or in your head and go show off to your friends and family!

PS: If you are a Concordia student in Montreal or anywhere else in the world and that you want to actually learn a new language you are in luck, JIC just started a Language Program where through the help of movies, shows, and books, a study plan and a partner we help you teach yourself and your peers a new language! If you are interested you can sign up via  the Website’s page “language program” or via this link: http://www.jic-jmsb.ca/?page_id=3356

See you next Month

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