Des Expressions Québécoises Quotidiennes
(Everyday Québec Expressions)
Pronounced as tsé?, this might be the most common “pacer” in current Québec speech.
T’sais? is a contraction of tu sais? (English: you know?) and serves an oral purpose similar to English Canada’s frequent “yuh know” of daily speech.
T’sais? has 3 chief functions in speech.
Baudelairean Flâneurs Beware !
Québec speech preserves ancient words now lost or obsolete in continental French and also borrows heavily from English phrases, even disguised sometimes in loan translations.
A Parisian might wish faire une balade à pied ‘to go for a walk on foot.’ But, in fair weather on a day in May, a Quebecker might say, “Prenons-nous une marche?” ‘Are we going to take a walk?” directly borrowed from English “to take a walk.”
Flâneur means ‘stroller, lounger, saunterer, slacker or loafer.’ Nineteenth-century Parisian poet of decadence and superb critic Charles Baudelaire (1821-1867) added his own definition of flâneur, refining it to ‘a person who walks the city in order to experience it.’ This extra sense caught on, so that flâneur even shows up in English urbanology texts and sociology courses. Baudelaire’s Les fleurs du mal ‘Flowers of Evil’ is one of the great classics of French poetry.
Homer Simpson’s “Duhhhh!” In Québec might be “Dzuhhh!”
The letters /t/ and /d/, called dentals from the way they are pronounced, become affricatives in the daily speech of Québec when /t/ and /d/ occur in front of the vowels /u/ and /i/.
/t/ then is spoken as /ts/ and /d/ becomes /dz/.
The Québec word most commonly mispronounced by Anglos is probably poutine. Its everyday pronunciation is pou-TSIN. The stressed final syllable is not only affricated but shortened slightly, so that poutine never rhymes with the English word canteen.
Other example: Tu es parti (‘you left’) in daily Québec speech is pronounced ‘tsu es partsi.’
Things to Say to an Annoying Ranter in Québec
(a) Tords pas tes bas!
‘Oh, don’t get your stockings in a twist.’
British English might say, “Don’t get your knickers in a twist!”
(b) Brise pas ta chaîne!
‘Don’t snap your leash!’
(c) Grimpe pas dans les rideaux !
‘Don’t start climbing the livingroom curtains.’
(d) Mange pas tes bas!
‘Don’t eat your stockings,’ a slightly politer version of “Don’t eat your shorts.’
Et, mes élèves, c'est tout pour aujourd'hui.
© 2012 copyright William Gordon Casselman
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