Overheard in Montreal: 5 Quintessentially French Canadian sentences from the streets of Quebec.

September 5, 2011 / by Rachel Reardon

I love Montréal; the sights, the sounds, the food (try the poutine at La Banquise Resto), the people, everything! But let’s talk about the sounds.

One of my favorite parts of traveling to Montréal is overhearing, “Québécismes;” words and phrases that are très French Canadian.

Check out these five actual phrases I’ve heard during my travels to Montréal and what they can teach us about the language:

1. C’était bien le fun!
What it means: It was really fun!
Why it’s awesome: I was speaking in French with a Quebecois man when I heard this phrase. After he said it, I remarked that it was interesting that he used the English word “fun.”

He looked at me like I was crazy.

Much like “bouquet” or “clique” in English, the word “fun” (among many others) is used so frequently that French Canadian speakers don’t even realize it’s an English word.

2. Je vais te sender un email.
What it means:
I am going to send you an email.
Why it’s awesome:
The word “sender” in this sentence is what I found the most interesting. Especially when it comes to technology, French Canadians borrow lots of English words. When referring to email, the English verb “to send” was adopted into French grammar by adding an "–er" verb ending.

3. Il faut pas se bâdrer avec les détails!
What it means: Don’t bother with the details!
Why it’s awesome: The word “bâdrer” comes from “to bother” in English. This sentence is awesome because of what it reveals about the difference in the accents of Francophones when speaking in English. Stick with me here. When someone from Paris says, “the car” it usually sounds like “zee car.” When someone from Montreal says it, it usually sounds like “deh car.”

So, the word bâdrer comes from the French Canadian pronunciation of the word “bother” in English. The “th” sounds like a “d” and an "–er" verb ending was added.


4. C’est le friforâll.
What it means:
It’s a free-for-all.
Why it’s awesome: When I first looked at a street advertisement boasting this sentence, I had no idea what friforâll meant…until I sounded it out in French: free…for…all ! Voila! French Canadian often takes English words and changes the spelling so that when sounded out in French, the pronunciation remains similar to how it’s pronounced in English.

5. Je suis badeloqué, la.
What is means:
I have bad luck.
Why it’s awesome:
Much like the free-for-all example above, badeloqué comes from the English “bad luck” but with a French spelling and is used as an adjective, “bad-lucked.” The “la” at the end of this sentence is heavily used in French-speaking Canada. In instances like this, “la” doesn’t have much meaning. It’s a filler that can be compared to “um” or “so” in English and is used to show emphasis.

The French Canadian language is a fascinating mélange of culture and history (with some English mixed in for good measure). Have you encountered any interesting “franglais” phrases or any other language combinations?

Topics: Language Learning and Culture

Rachel Reardon

Written by Rachel Reardon

Rachel works with some of the coolest marketers, designers, and writers around to help Mango look and sound its best. She loves bold colors, old books, the Montréal metro, and Star Trek. She has conflicting feelings about the Oxford comma.

Subscribe to Email Updates