Canadian French in Quebec

  • 01 of 21

    Canadian French in Quebec: Words and Expressions Only a Local Would Know

    Canadian French words only heard in Quebec.
    ••• Anna Bryukhanova / Getty Images

    Canadian French as spoken in Quebec is the most widespread French dialect found in North America. Acadian French as spoken in New Brunswick and Franco-Ontario French in Ontario are similar dialects to what is spoken in Quebec, though arguably riddled with more anglicisms. There are also pockets of French communities in Manitoba, Alberta and British Colombia each with their own special twists on Molière's tongue.

    Traveling to Montreal? Stay Near the Old Port

    But just so you know, “Canadian French” is not a term that's really used in Quebec. Locals prefer qualifying terms like ''Québécois,'' "Français Québécois,'' ''Quebec French,'' or "French Quebec" if any term at all must be used to describe a dialect that, generally speaking, is unique to the region.

    On topic, as a born-and-bred Quebecer myself who speaks and writes French with mother tongue proficiency, I thought it would be fun to put together a list of several Québécois...MORE expressions you're bound to hear while in the province of Quebec and in Montreal, the province's largest city.

    You might even hear these words incorporated into English sentences on the streets of Montreal because not only are the majority of local anglophones fluently bilingual and by extension chat in French every day, they also typically use French words in everyday English conversations.

    I wasn't kidding when I said where else can you speak Frenglish.

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  • 02 of 21

    Canadian French Swear Words, Quebec Style

    French swear words in Quebec.
    ••• Dimitri Otis / Getty Images

    French swear words, as with swear words in general, often make reference to bodily excretions, orificial waste, sexual acts, incest, wedlock-free conception and sun-deprived body parts. But in our usual stubborn manner, we like to do things a little different here in Quebec. 

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  • 03 of 21

    Ayoille

    Canadian French Quebec words and expressions: ayoille.
    ••• Ayoille. Constance Bannister Corp / Getty Images

    You say ouch? Quebec says...

    It sounds a little something like AH-YOY.

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  • 04 of 21

    Franchement

    Canadian French Quebec words and expressions: franchement.
    ••• Franchement. moodboard / Getty Images

    “Franchement” is one my preferred French Quebec expressions, but not because of any real reason other than the fact that it was one of the first words I remembered using all the time as a child learning French. It was my bratty verbal eye roll, my Québécois valley girl version of "really?"

    Translated literally, “franchement” means “frankly” in English. It can also translate into “downright” or my personal favorites, “really?” or even “seriously.”

    To pronounce it properly, say “FRAHN-SCHMAHN.” Block your nose this time and say it again to get a sense of how the N is almost silenced in French, as if the ending of the Nnnnnn sound is cut short. Hear how much subtler the N itself sounds when in full nasal mode? Now try to say it again without blocking your nose.

    Replicate what that nasal N sounds like and remember to roll the R in “FRAHN-SCHMAHN.” You'll sound like a native French speaker in no time. But if the R is too hard, then just silence the Ns. You'll be understood.

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  • 05 of 21

    En Tout Cas

    Canadian French words and expressions: en tout cas.
    ••• En tout cas. Matthias Clamer / Getty Images

    En tout cas. Just one of many Quebecois expressions I use constantly. Like every day. It's filler language. Kinda like this random stock shot. Uncomfortable silence? Fill it with words! Uncomfortable blank space on page? Insert cat photo.  

    "En tout cas" can mean “anyways.” It can mean “well.” It can also suggest "all I can say is." And it can mean “in any case.” I even employ it as an elegant, gentler, more diplomatic and less dismissive alternative to “whatever.”

    To pronounce “En tout cas,” try AWN-TOO-KAH. And say it fast, so fast that you can barely hear the N.

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  • 06 of 21

    Déguelasse

    Canadian French Quebec words and expressions: déguelasse.
    ••• I personally love broccoli. As for everyone else... JGI/Jamie Grill / Getty Images

    In contrast to most of the French Quebec words and expressions I've listed so far, this word gets around. Quebecers are definitely not the only French speakers who use the word déguelasse. It's an official French word listed in the Larousses and Le Petit Roberts of the dictionary world, one denoting an expression of disgust. Something is gross? Then it's déguelasse.

    Unfortunately, disgust seems to match how Francophones outside of Canada feel about its, um, expression. 

    Don't believe me? Google ''déguelasse.'' It won't take more than a few seconds to spot an online forum thread expressing repulsion that the word exists at all. It's oft considered an improper even lowly term, one that's overly familiar and the level of street talk, barely a step above the uttering of vulgarities.

    In contrast to France, Quebec doesn't have its knickers in such a twist over the term. ''Déguelasse'' is employed with reckless abandon in a variety...MORE of contexts that elicit revulsion and repugnance though I might restrain myself if courting potential business clients or, say, royalty. But honestly, even then? It's a common, everyday term in these parts. I can't recall so much as one moment in my life where I found myself holding back from using it out of concern that it didn't match up with the social mores of the occasion. But I might think twice about uttering it if I was in France though. Or Belgium. Or Morocco.

    How do you pronounce it? Try DAY-GUH-LASS.

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  • 07 of 21

    Quétaine

    Canadian French Quebec words and expressions: quétaine.
    ••• See that right there? Quétaine. Aaron Cobbett / Getty Images

    Describing everything from crocs to Eastern European fashion, it's remarkable how often one can incorporate this French Quebec term into everyday conversation.

    Usable in reference to everything from crocs to velours track suits, it's remarkable how often one can incorporate the Quebec-born term into everyday conversation. Select Eastern European fashions, ironic sweaters worn for non-ironic purposes, bulging leopard print fanny packs... legions fit the bill.

    Pronounced KAY-TEN, "quétaine" describes pretty much anything that can be construed as cheesy, tacky and ostentatiously passé.

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  • 08 of 21

    Bibitte

    Canadian French Quebec words and expressions: bibitte.
    ••• Bibittes don't get much cuter than that. mustamin / Getty Images

    Bibitte is such a cute word. You'll generally hear it in Quebec and maybe in parts of New Brunswick and other small pocket regions in Canada where French is commonly spoken.

    It's the French Canadian word for bug, the catch-all Québécois word for the insect world.

    It's pronounced B-BIT.

    And another thing. Don't say bibitte around French speakers in Louisiana unless you intend on waxing poetic over a certain male appendage.

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  • 09 of 21

    Je m'en fiche

    Canadian French Quebec expressions: Je m'en fiche.
    ••• Adam Gault / Getty Images

    A beloved expression from my childhood is the quintessential je m'en ​fiche. Ah, but you don't care what it means? What a charming coincidence. It means "I don't give a rat's a**."

    It's pronounced JUH-MAHN-FISH.

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  • 10 of 21

    Terrasse

    Canadian French Quebec words: terrasse.
    ••• Guenther Schwermer / Getty Images

    The local expression for "patio," Montrealers, both French and English, use this word ALL the time. Unless it's winter.  

    To pronounce it, say TERRR-ASS. And really roll that R.

    See Also: Montreal's Top Terrasses

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  • 11 of 21

    The 5-à-7

    Canadian French expressions in Quebec: the 5-à-7
    ••• Frederick Bass / Getty Images

    What is a 5-à-7? If I told you cheap booze is involved, could you manage an educated guess? Just don't be mixing it up with what it means in France.

    Across the pond, 5-à-7 traditionally denotes the post work-a-day witching hour for engaging in extra-marital sex. The Quebec 5-à-7? Not so much. It could refer to that, I suppose. But it seems like folks cheat more on their lunch break in these parts.

    Rather, it refers to happy hour, which typically happen from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m.

    See Also: Montreal's Best Brew Pubs

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  • 12 of 21

    Steamé

    Canadian French Quebec words: steamé.
    ••• Photo by Flickr user sarah

    Nowhere else in the world will you hear this term unique to Quebec. The steamé is a lovely bastardization of both the French and English language. And it refers to the humble hot dog. Steamed.

    It's pronounced STEAM-AY.

    And if you really want to impress the casse-croûte employee taking your order, say you want your steamé "all-dress" (and roll that R). That's Quebec code for "would you kindly add onions, mustard, relish and a mysterious vinegary coleslaw mix atop my steamed hot dog please?"

    So to reiterate, if you want a steamed hot dog with the works at a Quebec fast food joint, just bark out "steam-ay all-drrrress" (roll the R, people).

    Prefer your hot dog toasted? Easy peasy. Just say hot dog toasté (TOAST-STAY).

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  • 13 of 21

    Casse-croûte

    Canadian French Quebec expressions: casse-croûte.
    ••• Photo by Flickr user Laure Wayaffe

    What is a casse-croûte? Stick around Montreal long enough and you will inevitably end up in one.

    Translated literally, it means "break crust." Not that anyone ever uses the expression to denote the breakage of crust. Rather, it's a common term for greasy spoons and fast food joints in Montreal and across the province of Quebec.

    Foods you will undoubtedly find in a casse-croûte include hamburgers, poutine and most definitely a Montreal staple, the steamé.

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  • 14 of 21

    Dépanneur

    Canadian French Quebec words:the dépanneur.
    ••• The dépanneur. THE quintessential essential in every Quebecer's life. Photo by Flickr user jbcurio

    Dépanneur. If you're moving to Montreal, remember this word. 

    Dépanneur is the French Quebec word for “corner store.” Montreal residents as well as citizens across Quebec use the expression almost exclusively instead of “corner store,” including when speaking in English.

    It's pronounced DAY-PANN-URRR.

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  • 15 of 21

    Friperie

    Canadian French Quebec words: friperie.
    ••• Photo © Clint Lewis

    Can't say Quebec has the monopoly on this particular French term. But I thought I'd share it since they're so popular. 

    What is a friperie? A vintage shop, stores that are all the rage since hipsters highjacked pop culture airwaves and in Montreal, they are everywhere. Vintages stores, that is.

    See Also: Montreal Vintage Shopping

    And in tune with Montreal's tendency to spice up English phrasing with the language of love, you're just as likely to hear a local Anglophone go on about the latest vintage hot spot as you are to hear "hey, wanna check out the new friperie?"

    It sounds a little like FRIP-RRREE. Bonus points if you can roll the R's.

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  • 16 of 21

    Action de Grâce

    Canadian French words and expressions: Action de Grâce.
    ••• ballyscanlon / Getty Images

    Don't be surprised if you hear the term "action de grâce" tossed around the next time you visit Montreal and the province of Quebec around the second Monday of October. 

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  • 17 of 21

    SAQ

    Canadian French Quebec words and expressions: SAQ.
    ••• Photo by Flickr user Julia Manzerova

    Granted, the SAQ isn't so much a Quebec French expression as it is a Quebec crown corporation. But it's used so often in everyday speech in these parts that it might as well be a word. The SAQ's pervasiveness in local vernacular might have something to do with what SAQ storefronts sell.

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  • 18 of 21

    Le Weekend?

    Canadian French Quebec words and expressions: fin de semaine.
    ••• Le weekend? In France, maybe. But not so much in Quebec. Photo by Flickr user Andrés Nieto Porras

    Quebecers are sometimes accused of using too many anglicisms in everyday French conversation. But when you look at the amount of anglicisms used in France, like "parking" or chewing gum" for example, you almost wonder who is more guilty of anglicizing the French language. Not that I think it's a horrible thing. I personally love switching back and forth between languages, but some people express concern that doing so might render the French language extinct and so on and so forth, and before you know it, all political hell breaks loose (long story, it's complicated).

    So. Weekend. In France, a weekend is a "week-end." But in Quebec, a weekend is a "fin de semaine," which means "end of the week."

    Pronouncing it is fairly easy once you get the hang of it. Try "FAYN-DUH-SEUH-MEN with an almost silent N on FAYN.

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  • 19 of 21

    Stationnement

    Canadian French Quebec words and expressions: stationnement.
    ••• Chris Cheadle / Getty Images

    Stationnement is the French word for “parking lot” or even “car park,” as it's called in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Stationnement can also refer to the overall concept of parking.

    Not that anyone in France knows that, so the language gossip mongers say. You're likelier to hear a Parisian ask you where the closest “parking” is located (pronounced pahr-keeng with a barely audible “r”).

    It's entirely possible that same Parisian might even scratch their head in confusion if you were to use the word “stationnement” in the context of a vehicular parking space in the first place.

    Outside of Quebec and by extension Canada, “stationnement” doesn't so much refer to parking spots or parking lots or car parks so much as it describes the act of stopping, of staying put, of being stationed.

    How to promounce  “stationnement?” Try STASSEEE-OH-NE-MAHN with a barely audible N at the end.

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  • 20 of 21

    Cabane à Sucre

    Canadian French Quebec words and expressions: cabane à sucre.
    ••• Leanna Rathkelly / Getty Images

    Cabane à sucre is a term that's thrown around in both French and English conversation in Montreal as soon as winter snow starts melting. A rite of passage for many locals, cabane à sucre season typically heralds the arrival of spring in Quebec. 

    But what does it mean?

    It translates literally as "sugar cabin."

    To say it, try CABAN-A-SUCR-UH.

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  • 21 of 21

    Pour Emporter

    Canadian French Quebec words and expressions: pour emporter.
    ••• Hero Images / Getty Images

    If you plan on getting takeout in Montreal or anywhere in Quebec and want to show off your knowledge of local lingo, then you'll need to learn how to use and pronounce “pour emporter.” 

    When the staffer at the cash takes your order, he or she will eventually ask you “pour ici ou pour emporter?” That means "for here or to go?"

    That's your cue to... say it with me... POO-HOMP-ORTAY.

    And roll that R! Gently though.

    Next Slideshow: How to Swear Like a True Quebecer