Though French is spoken in many countries globally, the unique native expressions and phrases used in Quebec make it a home to its very own language. From an outside perspective, when listening to French being spoken in Quebec, it can definitely be a challenge if you don’t speak Quebecois. Anglophones acknowledge our strong French accents, especially when saying words such as “three”, which we will most likely always pronounce as “tree”. We are also known for our humorous slang words. The Quebec language is one of a kind as it has slowly adapted and incorporated English words into it’s already diverse vocabulary. As a Quebecois myself, I am proud to say that Quebeckers can speak “Hanglish” and continue to challenge one another with language while respecting our cultural roots.
Below is a list of 15 French words and expressions that are often used in Quebec. These are just a few of my personal favorites that can help you learn to speak “Quebecois”. The proper French term is put in parentheses and the English translation is in italics!
1. Une clope (une cigarette) – a cigarette
2. Y’est malade (Il est malade) – He is sick/He is cool
3. Un char (une voiture) – a car
4. Y fais frette (Il fais froid) – It is cold
5. Chu pu capable (Je ne suis plus capable) – I can’t anymore
6. Grouille (Dépêches-toi) – Let’s go/ Hurry up
7. T’es une moumoune (Tu es peureux) – You are scared
8. Icitte (Ici) – here
9. Toé (Toi) – you
10. Une bibitte (Un insecte) – An insect
Take a look at
this French to English expression translation:
1. J’ai des croutes à manger (I need to eat my crust) – I have experience to acquire
2. Occupe-toi de tes oignons (to deal with your own onions) – to mind your own business
3. T'es de bonne heure sul' piton (You are early on the peak) – You are an early riser
4. Péter un plomb (Break a fuse) – getting mad
5. Y m’a chié dans pelle (He sh*t in the shovel) – He cancel the meeting
If you are interested in learning other common expressions used in Quebec, feel free to watch this video.
Protection of French in Opposition to English
The government of Canada is constantly trying to pass new bills that protect the French language as it is valuable to both the Quebecois and all of Canada. English and Mandarin are becoming more and more popular in the province of Quebec, it is crucial for the province to keep the roots of Quebec's own language. Quebec is attempted to tighten law in order to force retailers and corporations to add French descriptions to their brand names. Here are two examples of English to French translation that we can be seen in the province of Quebec:
1. KFC stands for Kentucky Fried Chicken, but in Quebec you’ll be surprising to see that the famous fast-food restaurants is instead using PFK for Poulet Frit Kentucky.
2. The stop signs say ARRÊT, instead of STOP.
And then, of course, the famous religious words that Quebeckers uses to express all sorts of emotions. Les Sacres are exclamations that are based upon religious values but are constantly used in alternate setting for other purposes outside of the church. Here are a few common words:
- Tabernak! (tabernacle)
- Esti! (the host)
- Calice! (The chalice)
- Criss! (Christ)
In order to understand the Quebecois culture, I strongly recommend and encourage you have a conversation with a Quebecois over a large poutine! If you are ever looking for someone to chat with, I would be happy to have the company. The last recommendation I will leave with you is to have a full experience at a Sugar Shack in Quebec.
*BONUS: Did you know that Sheppard’s pie in French is Pâté chinois, which translate to Chinese pie?
Be sure to share your thoughts with me, Merci!