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Let’s go fishing… and learn hard-core French while you’re at it! – Post 5 of 6 (#328)



I ranked this next colloquial dialogue as a very difficult “5” on the scale of one to six.  This is the shortest of the six audio examples of colloquial speech, yet it is one of the most difficult.

There are three main reasons:

  1. The accent is strong, which is somewhat made fuzzier by the phone line – but people regularly hear such conversations over the phone)
  2. The speed is quick (which makes for some heavy contractions and improper use of tenses)
  3. The punchline
    1. comes very fast (it begins at 18 seconds and ends at 23 seconds),
    2. is heavily contracted and accented, and
    3. would be extremely difficult for anyone to understand, unless they were a native speaker, or at the very minimum, unless their verbal French was at the most advanced levels.
    4. If you were to miss the five seconds of the punchline, the entire story would not make sense.

Difficulty levels 5


Because colloquial French is so different from standard French, you might wonder where can you practice listening to colloquial French if you are not exposed to it on a regular basis?

I chose these excerpts from Radio-X (CHOI FM) for a specific reason.  Radio-X’s website (and APP) allows you to download their radio shows.   You can load them into your phone or MP3 player, and listen to them anywhere and anytime (in your car, as you’re going to bed, as you’re doing your chores, or at the office).

I’m familiar with French-language radio stations across Canada, and I can pretty much guarantee you that the informal nature of Radio-X’s programs makes their speech the most colloquial French you will hear on any of Canada’s or Québec’s radio stations (and much more colloquial than what you will hear on television, or TV sitcoms).

What’s more, the radio programs are interesting.  Although the station is based in Québec city, the shows feature well-known radio hosts and columnists who love to discuss Canadian Federal politics and society inside-and-out.  They regularly talk about topics which are equally pertinent to someone living in Kamloops (BC), Steinbach (Manitoba), or Fredericton (New Brunswick).

Starting on August 15, 2015, they will have a new program line-up featuring some of the most well-known columnist names in Québec (Dominic Maurais, Richard Martineau, André Arthur, Denis Landry, etc.).

Radio-X is one of the most listened-to radio stations in Québec and Canada (they regularly top the Eastern-Québec listener rankings).  They recently dropped somewhat in the ranking numbers owing to stiff competition (from 93.5FM and NRJ Québec City).  But their revamped scheduling slated for August 15th is their way of fighting back.

Check them out at http://quebec.radiox.com/accueil

Now for the next audio tract (don’t forget to turn on the closed captions).   The colloquial English translation will follow in the transcript below.




  • 0:00 – Yes, c’est à mon tour?
  • Yes, It’s my turn?


  • 0:01 – Oui, vas-y. T’es en ondes.
  • Yes, go for it. You’re on the air.


  • 0:03 – C’est dans le fond, moi j’étais plus jeune, j’allais à la pêche dans le fleuve avec mon père.  (Il) y avait de la grosse barbotte sale.  Pis (puis), on s’est fait poigné par la marée.  Fait-que là, on s’est avancée à la marée basse. 
  • Bottom line, when I was younger, I went fishing on the river with my dad.  We were after big, dirty burbot (bullhead).  But we were caught by the tide.  So we went to where it was lower. 
  • 0:15 – C’est du bord du fleuve sur des grosses roches. Pis ç’allait ben (bien), ç’allait ben.  On pêchait. 
  • It was on the edge of the river where there were a lot of big rocks. It’s was all going hunky-dory, just fine.  We were fishing.
  • 0:18 – Mon hors (moteur hors-bord) ça revire, et on a dû (avoir) douze pied d’eau en avant de nous autres qui nous séparait de la rive. Mettons qu’on n’a pas trop trippé
  • My outboard (motor) came unhitched / fell off, and there must have been 12 feet of water in front, separating us from the banks. Let’s just say we were less than happy.
  • 0:25 – Moi j’avais à peu près onze ans. Mon père il trippait pas pantoute.  J’savais nager, mais j’étais pas le meilleur nageur contre le courant, mettons à onze ans. 
  • Me, I was about 11 years old. My dad was not happy, not at all.  I knew how to swim, but let’s say that at 11 years old, I was not the best swimmer against the current.
  • 0:33 – Fait-qu’on s’est mouillé pas mal jusqu’au cou. Lui encore plus.  Lui, il avait encore une petite rame en arrière. 
  • So we got drenched we right up to the neck. Him a bit more.  He still had a little paddle in the back.
  • 0:37 – Il nageait pis il m’a tiré en même temps, pis on a réussi à sortir sur la rive. Mettons que c’est une petite course qu’on a eu là.
  • He swam and he pulled me at the same time, and we succeeded in getting out onto the banks. Let’s just say que it was quite an adventure which we had there.


  • 0:45 – C’était pas votre meilleur.
  • It wasn’t your best (moment).


  • 0:47 – Non, malheureusement.
  • No, unfortunately.


  • 0:49 – Ok, ben content que ç’a bien tourné quand-même.
  • Ok, I’m still really happy that it turned out nonetheless.


  • 0:51 – Yes


  • 0:52 – Hey, merci d’avoir appelé, bye-bye.
  • Hey, thanks for having called.


  • 0:53 – Salut
  • Bye.




Let’s go fishing… and learn hard-core French while you’re at it! – Post 1 of 6 (#323)



The last few posts which combined some language learning exercises garnered some pretty high traffic.

I guess that means that a good chunk of people found them interesting or useful to study spoken French.

Those could be considered rather straight forward in the sense that post #321’s conversation was rather short (even if it was colloquial / verbal), or in a controlled interview, such as in the case of post #322.

Regardless, such exercises give you a perspective and an opportunity to learn French as it is spoken in every day speech.

Textbook French only gets you so far.   The true key is if you can put yourself in a situation where you have to use your French, you understand what is going on around you, and you can follow it enough to respond.

In the next few posts, I’m going to give you the opportunity to practice your listening skills, to learn some colloquial (oral) French vocabulary as it is spoken in everyday situations, and to challenge yourself a little.

I’m going to provide you with six texts, each with a different level of difficulty.   I’ll rank them for you on a scale of one to six.

Because there is quite a bit of work involved in putting these together, I won’t be able to do them every day.  But I will do my best to put one together every couple of days.

Also, I UNDERLINED some very colloquial words and expressions which might be of particular interest.

SCENARIO:  This past long weekend I spent some down-time doing some camping, and some friends went fishing.  on the way home, I was listening to Radio-X in the car (a very well known talk radio station).  The coincidentally were talking about fishing stories.

I obtained clips from the show, edited them, added subtitles, and am presenting them to you with translated texts.   I feel they provide you with the real-deal on how people speak to each other in French using relaxed, everyday colloquial French — at least on this side of the Atlantic, in Québec, and across Canada.

This first clip introduces what’s about to come with the real fishing stories (the subjects of the next few posts).

Lets dive into it.

Colloquial Difficulty Level:  1

Difficulty levels 1cc

Host A :

  • 0:00 – Ça fait toujours réagir quand on parle de chasse et pêche ici sur nos ondes. Beaucoup de chasseurs sont à l’écoute, et beaucoup de pêcheurs.
  • It always gets a reaction when we talk on air about hunting and fishing. Many hunters are listening, as are many fishermen/women

Host B :

  • 0:07 – Oui. C’est la saison. 
  • It’s the season.

Host A :

  • 0:09 – Mais pas de la chasse, par exemple. Il n’y a pas plus grande chose à chasser à ce temps de l’année.  Vous autres, les gars, vous n’avez jamais pêché?
  • Well, not for hunting. There isn’t much to hunt at this time of the year.  You, you guys, you’ve never fished before?

Host B :

  • 0:16 – J’étais supposé aller pêcher avec mon propriétaire, qui est le cousin à Véronique Bergeron, pis il avait dit…
  • I was supposed to go fishing with my landlord.  I told you he’s Véronique Bergeron’s cousin.

Host A :

  • 0:23 – “Je vous sors”, Véro c’est une pêcheuse aussi.
  • “I’ll take you out”… Vero is also a fisherwoman.

Host B :

  • Ben oui
  • Of course

Host A :

  • 0:26 – Parlant de filles qui font de la chasse et de la pêche,
  • Speaking of women/girls who hunt and fish, well

Host B :

  • 0:29 – Je me demande, elle est supposée prendre son permis de port d’arme…
  • I wonder, she is supposed to get her firearm holder’s permit…

Host A :

  • Ouais
  • Yup

Host B :

  • 0:33 – … pour aller à la chasse. Mais c’est une grande pêcheuse, Véro.  Pis mon propriétaire m’avais dit « On va aller pêcher le soir.  On va se faire du fish ‘n chip.  On va cuisiner tout ça avec une bonne bouteille de vin.
  • … to be able to hunt. But Vero, there’s a big fisherwoman.  And my landlord has always said to me “We’re going to go fishing tonight.  We’ll make some fish ‘n chips.  We’ll cook it all up with a good bottle of wine.”

Host A :

  • 0:44 – T’étais prêt .
  • And you were like ready to do it.

Host B :

  • 0:45 – J’étais prêt. J’étais cranké.  Et quand on était dans la voiture, on allait mettre du gaz dans le bateau.  Mais la température et des vagues de 3 pieds dur le fleuve, fait-que c’était vraiment pas idéale
  • I was ready. I was all geared up / on my mark / cranked up.  And when we were in the car, we were all ready to put gas in the boat.   But those temperatures and the 3 foot waves on the river… it made it so that it really wasn’t ideal.

Host A :

  • 0:55 – Les conditions intactes.
  • The conditions lined up.

Host B :

  • 0:56 – Les conditions étaient absentes. Non, non.  C’était vraiment sur le fleuve là.   Donc on a oublié le projet.  Mais il y avait quand-même du bon poison.  Fait-qu’on s’est fait pareille du fish ‘n chip, mais sans avoir été sur le fleuve.  La seule fois chu allé pêcher, dans un petit lac quand j’étais jeune, avec mes parents.  C’était à l’Île d’Orléans.  Pis moi, la seule fois que j’ai swingé la channe à pêche, c’était comme dans les cartoons. 
  • The conditions were not there. No, no.  It was all that on the riverSo we simply forgot our project.  But we still had good fish, even without having gone on the river.   The only time I’ve gone fishing, it was in a little lake when I was young, with my parents.  It was on Orleans Island.  And me, the only time I swung a fishing rod, I ended up looking like a cartoon.

Host A :

  • 1:17 – Tu l’as accroché par le col en arrière!
  • You hooked / caught the back of your collar!

Host B :

  • 1:19 – Pas loin! Ou c’était… j’ai vraiment swingé!
  • Pretty close! Where it was sitting, I really was swinging!

Host A :

  • 1:23 – À deux bras?
  • With both arms?

Host B :

  • 1:24 – Comme dans les cartoons!
  • Like in the cartoons!

Host A :

  • 1:25 – Ouais? C’est dangereux, .   Ça, je sais panoute, mais il y avait du monde autour?
  • Really? Like, that’s dangerous.  Ya know, I have no idea, but there was nobody around you?

Host B :

  • 1:29 – Non, non! Mais c’était « Fuck! Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! ».  Je veux pas ça de mêmeFait-que c’est la seule expérience que j’ai, de pêche, dans ma vie.  C’était une expérience qui a complètement tombé à l’eau.  Et l’autre expérience, que c’était pas super fameux.  J’étais trop jeune pour m’en souvenir .
  • No, No! But I was like « Shit!  Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!”  I’m not hot on thatSo it’s the only experience I have, with fishing, in my whole life.  It was an experience which totally fell through.  And the other experience, it wasn’t so hot  I was like too young to remember it.

Host A :

  • 1:48 – , t’as comme jamais pêché. T’es jamais allé à Costco.
  • So like, you’ve never fished, and you’ve never been to Costco (Costco is a running joke between the hosts).

Host B :

  • 1:52 – Je ne suis jamais allé à Costco.
  • I’ve never been to Costco.

Host A :

  • 1:54 – Mais t’as pas ta carte de membre.
  • Well, you don’t have your member’s card.

Host B :

  • 1:55 – Je n’ai pas ma carte de membre.
  • I don’t have a member’s card.

Host A :

  • 1:56 – D’ailleurs là, salutations à ton père, qui était à l’écoute, et qui t’a envoyé une preuve d’amour. Il t’aime quand-même.
  • By the way, hi to your dad who was listening and who sent you a few words of love. He loves you regardless.

Host B :

  • 2:01 – Il m’a texté, et je cite : « Ben oui, je t’aime mon garçon. »
  • He sent a text, and I quote “Oh yes, I love you son”.

Host A :

  • 2:06 – Ça me rassure.
  • That makes me feel better (in the sense of being reassured).

Host B :

  • 2:06 – Oui, ça me rassure, moi aussi.
  • Yes, that makes me feel better too.

Host A :

  • 2:07 – Ouais, de bon moments.
  • Yup, beautiful moments.

Host B :

  • 2:09 – Mais il n’y avait pas de lol, ni de bonhomme clin d’œil, fait-que je ne sais pas si c’était sarcastique.
  • But there was no lol, no winking man, so I don’t know if it was sarcastic.

Host A :

  • 2:13 – Ah, ok. Toi tu penses que ça pourrait pas être vrai. 
  • Oh, ok. Tu think it wasn’t sincere.

Host B :

  • 2:16 – Non, je ne pense pas que mon père est assez développé, technologie texto, pour faire des bonhommes sourire encore.
  • Non, I don’t think my dad is with it enough, regarding texting technology, to be able to send smiling men.

Host A :

  • 2:20 – Oh ya ya. Écoutes, un jour ça viendra.  Et quoi de mieux que d’aller au Costco avant un voyage de pêche.  Ça là, c’est comme, c’est comme Noël.
  • Oh man. Listen, one day you get it.  And what’s better than going to Costco than a fishing trip.  And once there, it’s like, it’s like Christmas.

Host B :

  • 2:29 – Tu sais, quand tu joins l’utile à l’agréable
  • Ya know, when you combine usefulness and likeable together…

Host A :

  • 2:31 – La gang de boys qui débarque au Costco pour faire l’épicerie avant le voyage de pêche , pis là tu sais que c’est le lendemain, il y a comme une effervescence… Toi Alex, toi non plus tu n’étais jamais aller pêcher?
  • The group of guys who head off to to Costco to do their grocery shopping before, like, a fishing trip, and you know that the next day, it’s like riding on cloud nine…. You Alex, you neither have never been fishing?

Host C :

  • 2:41 – La chasse, zéro fois, pis la pêche ça se compte su’les doigts de la main. J’aimais mes expériences, mais je ne sais pas pourquoi ç’a jamais vraiment donné que j’aille à la pêche et au camping, ou des choses comme ça.   Si ça se compte, c’était peut-être à trois ou quatre fois que je suis allé à la pêche de même.
  • Hunting, not once, and fishing I can count the number of times on one hand. I liked the times I had done it, but I don’t know why, but it never quite fit me to go fishing or camping, or anything like that.  If I count, it was maybe three or four times that I’ve been fishing like that.

Host A :

  • 2:54 – Je pense qu’on est dû, les gars, pour vous donner un peu d’expérience par procuration. D’après moi, on est dans un cas de spotted
  • I think it’s about time, guys, to let you live a little vicarious experience. In my opinion, we’re in a situation of having been caught with our pants down / being able to identify / bring to the fore / highlighting things…

Host B :

  • 3:01 – Parce que des histoires de pêche, il y en a. Regarde, mon propriétaire, chaque fois que je le croise en partant de chez nous , y a toujours une histoire de pêche à me conterPis c’est minimum une demi-heure par histoire de pêche
  • Because when it comes to fishing stories, there certainly are those. Look, my landlord, each time I cross paths with him when I like leave our place, he always has a fishing story to tell meAnd it’s like a minimum half hour per story for fishing.

Host A :

  • 3:13 – Mais , je veux des histoires de pêche, de chasse, avec un « H » majuscule. Pas des histoires de pêche « Aw, j’en ai poingé une grosse de même, pis… ». 
  • But like, I want fishing stories, hunting stories with a capital « H » (for “H”ell). I don’t want to hear fishing stories which go like “Aw, I got such a big one and …”

Host B :

  • 3:21 – Non, non, des vraies histoires. Parce qu’il y en a toujours des histoires, des bateaux qui partent à la dérive quand on est au chaletUne petite raconte « Ouais, j’ai oublié d’attacher le bateau ».  Pis le bateau s’en va, pis t’es obligé d’aller nager.
  • No, no, give us real stories. Because there are always stories, like boats which go off on their own when we’re at the cabinHere’s a little story, “Yup, I forgot to tie up the boat…”.  And off the boat went, and you had to go swimming.

Host A :

  • 3:33 – Mais t’arriverais à un moment donner. On allait dans un chalet, mais tu sais, spotted, chasse et pêche, chalet :  670-9098, 1-877-440-2464, et il y a toujours le « live » à Radiox.com.   Je sais qu’il y a ben de gens qui dans leur première semaine de vacances de la construction sont allés dans des chalets, sont allés pêcher, sont allés faire un peu de plein air, et plus souvent qu’autrement il y a des histoires d’alcool, de boisson. 
  • Well, we’ll get to you at a certain point. You went to a cabin, and you know, caught with your pants down, hunting, fishing, and cabins:   670-9098, 1-877-440-2464, and there’s always “live” at Radiox.com.  I know there are many out there in their first week of construction vacations who went to cabins, fishing, who went to take in a bit of the great outdoors, and who more often than not have stories involving alcohol, of drinking. 
  • 4:02 – Il ne faut pas que ça tombe mal, mettons. Il ne faut pas que ça tombe mal ces histoires-là.  Mais, mettons que des fois il y a des trucs quand-même assez cocasse qui se passe quand tu t’en vas à la pêche.  Pis souvent, ce n’est pas pour être sexiste, mais souvent t’sais, c’est les boys, y vont à la pêche pis il y a toujours un paquet d’histoires.  Moi j’avais déjà oublié d’attacher le pédalo au chalet.  Pis le chalet était devant la rivière.  Fait-que calcul-le comme tu veux. 
  • It doesn’t have to end badly, let’s say. These stories doesn’t have to end badly.  But, let’s say that sometimes there are things which can yet be wacky enough which can happen when you go fishing.  And often, it’s not to be sexist, but often, ya know, it’s the guys, they go fishing and there are always a ton of stories.   Me, I even forgot to tie up the water-cycle to the cabin.  And the cabin was in front of the river.  I’ll leave it to you go guess what happened.

Host B :

  • 4:26 – Bye-bye pédalo.
  • Bye-bye water-cycle.

Host A :

  • 4:28 – Il aurait fallu remorquer le pédalo. Il était rendu comme 500 pieds plus loin poigné dans des roches.  C’était pas ma meilleure celle-là.  OK, les lignes sont pleines.  Je pense que vous nous avez des histoires à nous raconter.   Spotted, chasse et pêche, plein air, ou appelez ça comme vous voulez.  Peut-être sauf une fois au chalet, aussi ça peut entrer dans cette catégorie-là.  On s’en va au téléphone.   Allô, Radio-X…
  • We had to tow the water-cycle. It went 500 feet down and go caught on the rocks.  I wasn’t at my best with that one.  OK, the lines are lit up.  I think we’re going to have stories for you.  Caught with your pants down, hunting and fishing, great outdoors, or call us about whatever.  Except for that “one time” at the cabin, that can also enter into that category.  Ok, let’s get to the calls.  Hello, Radio-X…



Texto Lingo, and the debate about dedicated cycling lanes (#274)

In the last post, we looked at what I call Texto Lingo”; our special “French” SMS language.  Sometimes it is the same as European Texto Lingo, but other times it is different.   It is sort of a digital Joual.

Texto Lingo is not just restricted to SMS messages.   We routinely find it used on social media (Facebook & Twitter), as well as the comments section of news articles.

I can give you a perfect example I recently came across.

For some time now, there has been a bit of a debate in larger cities across Canada (particularly in Montréal and Toronto) as to how much leeway should be accorded to cyclists on city roads (especially downtown or on busier city roads).

One not-so-diplomatic gentleman (presumably in Montréal) obviously is frustrated at urban cyclists.  He took his frustrations out on the facebook page of the SAAQ (a comment which has since been taken down).   The SAAQ (Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec) is Québec’s state auto insurance company (the counterpart of ICBC in B.C., SGI in Saskatchewan, or MPI in Manitoba).

The SAAQ has received several such comments lately, and each time, they have responded in a very level-headed manner.   Such comments which advocate rage and violence against urban cyclists have not gone unnoticed, and they have been picked up by the satirical web-monitoring website Petit Petit Gamin.


1.  Translation from Texto Lingo to colloquial (informal) French :

Tab*****, tu as beau leur laisser de la place.  Mais quand le fameux crisse de cycliste est seul, et il est en plein milieu de la rue, puis ensuite il faut que tu klaxonne pour qu’il se tasse – et en plus il t’envoie chier – … j’ai juste le goût de donner un coup de steering, puis il y aurait un de moins…  Désolé, mais tab*****, ils ont la route exclusivement à eux.  Alors utilise-la mon tab*****.  Mais viens pas me faire chier sur la route.   Shit ils ont un vélo à tas de marde!

2.  Translation from colloquial (informal) French to English :

F***!  We always have to give them space.  But when it’s just you and the bloody cyclist alone, and he’s in the middle of the street, and you have to let on the horn to get him the hell out of the way – he then tells you to screw off – … It just makes me want to swing the steering wheel, and paff… one less.   Sorry, but f***, they’ve got the road all to themselves.  So fine, take and use it!!   You ‘lil f***er!    But don’t piss all over me on the road.  Christ!  their bikes are a piece of shit!

3.  Translation of the SAAQ’s reponse from Standard French to English:

I would dare to hope that you do not truly believe what you are writing.  You would be ready to live with a death on your conscience in exchange for saving several seconds on the road and a few extra km/hr on your speed indicator?  Unless you are serious, we’re lead to believe that you don’t have the cognitive capacities to drive.


Ouch!!  But I certainly commend the SAAQ’s even-keeled response.

“Commuter cycling paths” in Québec vs. Anglophone Canada

On this topic of cyclists, just this morning I was speaking with a friend who lives in a smaller community of South-Central Ontario, but who is originally from Montréal and Québec City.

There are a few people from Québec who have moved to the same small community in Ontario as my friend.  He said that all of the Québec “ex-pats” are complaining that there is a lack of an “urban cycling commuter paths” in Ontario which one can specfically use to commute downtown to work from all across the city. He contrasted this with Québec’s various cycle networks in numerous cities (large and small).

The lack of cycle paths is something my friend’s acquaintances have noticed.  Some are not happy about it, and they’re left wondering if this is a cultural difference between English and French Canada.

I’m not sure.  It left me wondering also.  I’ve been running various English Canadian cities through my mind… and I certainly can think of a bazillion highly urban cycling paths in Victoria, Vancouver, and in Ottawa to an extent.  Calgary has a good number of bike paths, but they tend to be restricted to green corridors (and not adjacent to major thoroughfares).   Edmonton, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, St. John, and Halifax have bike paths, but they generally are found in parklands (the Edmonton, Saskatoon, Winnipeg river corridors, Regina’s Wascana Park, St. John & Halifax’s waterfront).  But other than that, the rest of the country’s Anglophone cities are not the most bike friendly.

With this being said, closing city street lanes and turning them into dedicated cycle-thoroughfares has been a subject of debate in English Canada for a number of years – particularly in Toronto and Vancouver.   The debate certainly exists in English Canada, just as it did in Québec a while back.  So perhaps the cultural difference is not that large after all.  And just like in Québec, we see people in English Canada who are for it (hence the Vancouver, Victoria, & Ottawa networks), and people who are against it just like the guy in the SAAQ comments (perhaps the Montreal equivalent of Toronto’s “Ford Nation”).

There is some movement on this issue in Anglophone Canada which may see the rest of the country begin to catch up to Québec at some point in the next decade or so.  We’re seeing “shared” bike lanes and “green lanes” being painted on the roads to remind drivers to be careful when sharing lanes with cyclists.

It will be interesting to see where this debate goes in Canada – and just how much Francophone & Anglophone mentalities converge on this issue in the future (or not).  The issue has come a long ways in the past 10 years.  The next 10 years might bring even greater convergence.

Texto Lingo : C-tu c kwa? (#273)


Translation into English :

Hi everyone.  Do you know the meaning of this SMS?  If yes, then perfect!  If no, don’t worry, it’s ok.  At any rate, we’re going to have a look now at something different which you perhaps do not know about… the world of the language of text messages.

Translation into regular French:

Salut tout le monde.  Sais-tu c’est quoi le sens de ce texto?   Si oui, parfait!  Si non, ne t’inquiètes pas, c’est pas graveDe toute façon, nous allons maintenant regarder quelque chose de différent que peut-être tu ne savais pas… le monde de la langue des textos.

Just like in English, French also has many commonly used SMS acronyms.    An SMS is a texto in French.

Not everyone uses texto acronyms, and sometimes your cell’s “type checker” makes it so there is no longer much use to use a number of them.  Regardless, they are still used — often more than regular words (some are used very often)

If you have ever exchanged a number of SMS in French, I’m sure you have ran into them:  mdr instead of “lol”, qqn instead of “quelqu’un”, etc.

Did you know…?

French SMS acronyms are sometimes different in France/Europe than here in Canada, owing to a difference in colloquial expressions.

Example from France (which we don’t say/use):  gp (gros pigeon) = means a “looser” in English (we’d generally say “cave” in Québec / Canadian French).

Example from Canada / Québec (which is not said/used in France):  cbr (crampé ben raide) = means “keeling over with laughter” in English.  In Europe, people may say “dcdr(décédé de rire” = “dead from laughter”).

The following are the most common text acronyms people use on this side of the Atlantic.

Happy texting!!

  • A1 = A1, a+
  • agreed = dac (d’accord)
  • all = tt (tout)
  • always = tjr (toujours)
  • anyway = dtf (de toute façon)
  • anyway = en tc (en tout cas)
  • are = st (sont)
  • b/c (because) = pcq (parce que)
  • during = pdt (pendant)
  • everyone = tlm (tout le monde)
  • excellent = xl (excéllent)
  • for = pr (pour)
  • hahaha = hihi
  • hello = bjr (bonjour)
  • hi = slt (salut)
  • hi again = rbjr (rebonjour)
  • I don’t care = jmef (je m’en fous)
  • I mean = cad (c’est-à-dire)
  • I’m = chu (je suis)
  • It’s = c (c’est)
  • It’s fine, it’s ok  = cpg (c’est pas grave)
  • listen = ect (écoute)
  • LOL (laughing out loud) = mdr (mort de rire)
  • long time = lgtmp (longtemps)
  • lots = bcp (beaucoup)
  • luv ya = jtm (je t’aime)
  • maybe = p-e (peut-être)
  • message = msg (message)
  • now = mtnt (maintenant)
  • OK = k, ok
  • pls (please) = stp (s’il te plait)
  • prob (problem) = prob (problème)
  • ROFL (rolling on the floor laughing) = ECDR (être crampé de rire) / RAL (rire aux larmes)
  • serious = srx (sérieux)
  • smooch = mouais
  • sms = txt (texto)
  • someone = qqn (quelqu’un)
  • something = qqc (quelque chose)
  • sorry = dsl (désolé)
  • tmrw (tomorrow) = dm (demain)
  • to be worried = etk (être inquiète)
  • to worry onself = tkt (t’inquiète)
  • that = q (que)
  • unless = snn (sinon)
  • us = ns (nous)
  • what = koi, kwa
  • what’cha doing? = tfq (tu fais quoi?)
  • whatever u/I want= nptk (n’importe quoi)
  • who = ki
  • why = pk (pourquoi)
  • with = av (avec)
  • wtf = wtf (ouate de phoque)… smart, eh?
  • yah, yup = (ouais)
  • you (you plural or formal) = vs (vous)
  • you know = tse (tu sais)
  • you’re = t (tu es)
  • yr the best = jtdr (je t’adore)

A very interesting French-language experience in Anglophone regions of Canada (#270)

This post is for Anglophone Canadians who are seeking ways to speak more French in Anglophone regions in Canada.

For those of you who are learning French, or who are trying to integrate a bit more of our country’s Francophone culture into your own life, this post might help to offer new avenues to expand your horizons, meet people and improve your French speaking and listening skills.

The French reality of my own background

To give you a bit of context, I’ll tell you a bit about how this fits into my own background.

Owing to decisions my parents took when I was still an infant, I was chosen to be one of the first “guinea-pigs” for the new “early-development immersion programs” in Western Canada.

When I was 3 years old, I was placed in the early pre-school immersion experiment.   Since then, my life has been a fairly even split between French and English:  Friends, school, work, and many other aspects of life.  Because of this, I have always considered myself both Francophone and Anglophone.

During my younger years, school (and school friends/peers) were key to this duality – regardless if I was living in British Columbia or Alberta.

Later in life, my Francophone university, friendships, Francophone communities in which I lived (in Western Canada, Eastern Canada, and also abroad) all played into this duality.  Over the course of years, I held numerous occupations which were sometimes 80% or more in French.

The challenge of living in French in Anglophone-dominant cities across Canada

It can be easier to have French interactions in certain Canadian Anglophone cities versus others.   Some cities have “Francophone districts” – complete with Francophone stores, social activities, universities and services.   Edmonton (Alberta) has a Francophone district, Bonnie Doon.  Winnipeg has St. Boniface.   Moncton’s downtown core is very bilingual (and Dieppe is a French-dominant district).  And of course, Ottawa-Gatineau has numerous French-dominant regions and is quite bilingual in and of itself.

However, most other Anglophone cities across Canada do not have a prima facie Francophone districts or quarters.

I left Canada for a number of years for work.  But when I returned to Canada, I moved to the very Anglophone city of Toronto.  Toronto is the first major Canadian city I have ever lived in with does not have a Francophone quarter, district, or a district with a French-only University.

This has presented me with a new challenge:  How to meet others in French.  This is the first time I have ever had this explicit challenge.

In the year and a half that I have lived in Toronto, I think I have encountered many of the “language challenges” which other people across Anglophone Canada regularly encounter when they seek to incorporate more French into their own lives.

I’ll explain…

Toronto’s Golden Horseshoe

The high-density, urbanized region named the Golden Horseshoe (the region around Toronto) has over 10 million people — which makes is the third largest urban agglomeration north of Mexico (it recently overtook Chicago, and is now third behind New York and Los Angeles).

Golden Horseshoe

According to statistics Canada (2011), this region has over 100,000 Francophones who have French as their first language.   This gives the Golden Horseshoe region the third largest Francophone population outside Québec (behind Acadia, and Ontario as a whole).

Again, according to statistics Canada (2011), there are 541,271 bilingual people who speak both French and English in the Golden Horseshoe.   This makes the region the second largest bilingual region in Canada, outside of Montréal.

However, unlike Montréal (in which most linguistic minorities and bilingual speakers are centred around the downtown core) those who speak French in the Toronto-Hamilton Golden Horseshoe region tend to be evenly spread over a vast urban region which takes over two hours to drive across at full freeway speed (at 120 kms/hour – from Bowmanville in the East to St-Catherines in the South).

This makes it challenging to meet people who also speak French when French speakers are evenly spread over such a large urban region.  Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe do not have a “French District”, per se.   Granted, I hear more French being spoken in downtown Toronto than other regions, but it is not enough to say that the downtown core is “French”.

The real challenge arises when there is no way to know whether or not the person you pass in the street, or the store you pass on the sidewalk speaks French.

Similar situations exist in other English-dominant cities across Canada such as Vancouver, Calgary, Saskatoon, St. John’s and Halifax.

A fascinating solution to speaking, living and interacting in French in English-dominant regions of Canada

I found a great “solution” with which to meet others who speak French, and thus evening out one’s social life in Anglophone Canadian cities.   I can tell you that this little trick has surpassed anything I could have expected.  If you live in an Anglophone dominant city in Canada, you too may be very interested in this.

Quite by accident, I came across an online listing of French, Francophone and Francophile “Meet-ups” in the Greater Toronto area.   These “meet-ups” are generally socializing groups – sometimes in cafés, sometimes in bars, and other times in restaurants.  They are basically random social “drop-ins” in which everyone and anyone is welcome.  The common language is French.  It is an opportunity to meet new people from all walks of life, share a beer, share a meal, and make new friends.

How good of an “in” are these meet-ups?

I was completely caught off guard when I came across these meet-ups.  I was even more caught off guard when I saw them with my own eyes.

There are so many “meet-ups”; one every two to three days in Toronto alone.   They are spread throughout the whole Greater Toronto Area (GTA).   Three of the meet-ups regularly take place within a 10 minute drive of where I live, and one within a 10 minute walk.   There are so many in fact, that it would be rare that anyone in the GTA would be far from at least one of them.

In total, there are

  • 37 separate French meet-up groups across the GTA with approximately 8700 membres registered online.
  • Organizers tell me they estimate that the real number of “attendees” (those who come to the meet-ups, but who have not registered online to receive emails) is three times this amount, or 30,000 attendees.
These are large numbers!

(You can count for yourself in the “members” listings online — I’ll give you the link a bit further down)

Out of curiosity, over a month ago I attended one meetup in Markham (in the Northeast of the Golden Horseshoe).   It was held at a restaurant.  Some people ordered food.  Others ordered drinks.   There were 15 other people.   Perhaps half were originally from Québec, but who have lived in Toronto for more than 10 to 20 years.  The other half were a mix (Franco-Ontarians, Acadians, and Anglophones who speak French).    I have since kept in contact with a couple of people from that meet-up.

A week later I attended another meet-up in a restaurant in North York (physically located in the middle of the Greater Toronto Area).   Almost 40 people attended.   This one was more than a pleasant surprise.   Over half of the attendees were French-English bilingual first-generation immigrants… mostly Chinese, Indian, some East-Europeans, and some Iranians.   These are not Francophone countries – but yet these people were fully embracing Canada’s bilingual nature.   It was great!  The other attendees were a mix of bilingual Anglophones, Francophones from elsewhere in Canada, and from other Francophone countries (France, Belgium, Switzerland, Mauritius, and Africa).

In the subsequent two weeks, I attended two additional events downtown, one in a pub, the other in the bar of a well-known hotel.   One event had around 90 people (mostly Francophones from Ontario, Québec and other Francophone countries – as well as a good number of fully bilingual Anglophones and first-generation immigrants).   Another event had over 170 people – with much of the same mix as the last event.

Last week, I attended a meet-up brunch in a restaurant, and met more people.  We were a good mix: Franco-Ontarians, Anglophones, Francophones from Québec, from France, and first-generation immigrants.


Not sure why I’m sticking out my tongue… but whatever.  Bad angle + lots of tongue = bad pic 😉
IMG_8988 IMG_8994

And the results?

One word:  unbelievable (I’m still shaking my head in semi-disbelief).

I only set out to perhaps meet a couple of people with whom to have a beer with from time to time (I value a bit of a French/English balance in my life).   I exchanged phone numbers and emails with just a few people.

But since having attended only a few of these meet-ups in the last five weeks, I have received,

  • 4 emails from individuals I met, inviting me to go for drinks after work or on the weekend (a couple of which I have taken up on their offer),
  • At least a dozen phone calls and SMS from other individuals inviting me for drinks, to dinner at restaurants, or to a dinner in their home with their families,
  • An invitation for brunch with another family and their friends (which I attended last weekend),
  • An invitation from three people to go camping in a couple of weeks,
  • An invitation to go kayaking with a couple of other people who have kayaks (like me),
  • A tentative offer from someone as a potential travel buddy to check out Gaspésie and Acadia this summer.

5 weeks, four meet-ups, and… well… holy crap!!

If you wish to find meet-ups in your own neighbourhood
The website where I found these meet-ups is http://www.meetup.com/fr/.

When you open the site,

  1. type “FRENCH” on the left side,
  2. choose a 100km radius
  3. enter your city


It will give you a list of many different French meet-up groups.


I checked other French meet-ups in a few other Anglophone cities across Canada which also do not have French districts.  Here is some of what I found:

  • Victoria, British Columbia: One large meet-up group, 402 members
  • Vancouver, British Columbia: 13 meet-up groups, 6278 members
  • Calgary, Alberta: 2 large meet-up groups, 1378 members.
  • Halifax, Nova Scotia: 1 large meet-up group, 593 members.

That’s almost 10,000 registered members in just these four cities alone — more than enough of an opportunity to meet others who speak French, and improve your language skills. (If the groups have more than 3 times the amount of unregistered members, like in Toronto, the numbers could very well be over 30,000 in these four cities as well).

And the last word?

It boggles my mind that a chunk of people in the sovereignist camp continue to say that French is dead outside of Québec.

On the contrary… I think with the advent of the internet and all the connections which can be forged, the net has basically become a “virtual French city”.  Things are taking off like we have never ever seen in the history of the country.  These sorts of opportunities to meet people, socialize and live in French have never been as easy to find as they are now.

I would even dare to say that this new meet-up movement is more effective and more efficient than traditional French communities were.   I say this in the sense that all of these people are out to meet others in a safe, public group environment – in cafés, restaurants and bars.   At least you can target your efforts for immediate results.

Combined with the massive French Immersion movement  (a good number of fully bilingual Anglophones I met at the meet-ups were products of the Immersion program), and what seemingly appears to be a good deal of interest on the part of first-generation immigrants towards Canada’s French fact… I would say things are looking pretty good as to the overall direction of things, and the interest in Canada’s French fact.  Wouldn’t you?

Anyway… I’ve been invited out for supper tonight with a small group of people I met at one of the meet-ups.   So I have to run!


Addendum:  2015-07-13

I went to the Mississauga Meet-up out of curiosity the other evening, and I found it to be one of the more interesting (and most “mixed”) groups.   Although it only had about 30 – 40 attendees, people were from everywhere in Canada (des Franco-Manitobains, une personne d’Abitibi, Franco-Ontariens, Acadiens, de gens de Québec et de Montréal, un Franco-colombien, une Fransaskoise, des Francophones d’origine de Toronto, Anglophones who are very fluent in French, Anglophones who want to improve their French, business people, government workers, white collar, blue collar, a good mix of women and men… a very nice and diverse mix – all with beer, wine, jokes, interesting conversations and a lot of laughs!!).

The irony…

It has been a few weeks since I started to go to the meet-ups… and ironically, I now am thinking I have to make an effort to make “Anglophone” friends to do things in English.  Considering all the people I have met through the meet-ups, and the social activities which have stemmed from it (camping, movies, boating, fishing, restaurants, day-trips & travelling – all in French, etc), it seems like my social life in and around Toronto is now more in French than English.

Perhaps I should look for English meet-up groups now to re-balance!  Hahaha!!!