French Culture – Canadian Style Posted by on Apr 9, 2019 in Culture, Music, Vocabulary

While my taste in all things French tends to run to the France French, if you’ve read me before you know that I have family in Québec and I go there from time to time. I also like to keep up when I can with how the culture is evolving up there. This week I happened to come across two tidbits I wanted to share with you.

Les nouveaux immigrés The new immigrants

 With high unemployment, European and domestic turmoil, and uncertain future, more French are leaving France today for Québec than just about anytime since the early days of Nouvelle France. There are no so many in and around Montreal, in fact, that the cultural differences of these long lost cousins (cousins) is (playfully) causing friction. From sports (soccer vs hockey) to beverages (wine vs beer) to even les rapports entre les sexes (the relations between the sexes), it seems the years and the miles that have separated these two groups have driven them apart. This great song from a few years back (written and performed ironically by an actual French person in Montréal) laments “[Il] y’a trop de Français à Montréal […] qui font monter les loyers et viennent niquer nos femmes.” (There are too many French in Montreal […] who drive up the rents and steal our women.)

Fun fact: According to a recent New York Times op ed piece about Brexit, there are over 300,000 French citizens living in London, making it one of the world’s largest French-speaking cities!

 C’est l’accent / It’s the accent

I learned my French in France. Over the years though, I’ve learned to adapt to the Québecois accent and vocabulary (which in the end, isn’t all that different; I think if you know the difference between American English and British English, you’ll get the picture … though sometimes the Canadian accent does veer a bit towards Scottish and then I get lost!). The song below by the French Canadian group LGS (Le Groupe Swing) is not only fun, but is a great example of that accent and some unique vocabulary.

On compte les heures, à tous les jours We’re counting the hours, every day
On tape du pied, oh, comme un tambour We tap our feet, like a drummer
Plus on attend, plus on devient fou The more we wait, the crazier we get
Dans quelques heures, ça s’passera chez nous In a few hours, it’s on at our place
So pogne un Uber* et come on over So grab and Uber and come on over
Tape tes mains et flip tes cheveux Clap your hands and flip your hair
Un vodka soda, un sake bomb A vodka and soda, a sake bomb
La fête commence dès que la nuit tombe The party starts as soon as the night falls
Que tu sois beau ou laitte** Whether your handsome or ugly
Partout sur la planète Everywhere on the planet
Ce soir on perd la tête Tonight we’re losing our heads
Y’a rien qui nous arrête Nothing’s gonna stop us
Nous on va faire la fête We’re going to party
Ce soir on perd la tête Tonight we’re losing our heads
Oh y’a des girls et y’a des gars Well there are girls, and there are guys
Mais quand je danse, tassez-vous de d’là But when I danse, get out of the way
Et quand ça part, check bin*** mes moves And when it starts, check out my moves
Macarena, oh, ostie qu’ça groove The Macarena, oh man how that grooves
Oh toutes les girls, chacun leur tour Oh all the girls, they get their turn
Sur Instagram, man je suis so cool On Instagram, man I’m so cool
On tape du pied, comme un tambour So tap your feet, like a drummer
Sur un remix de Charles Aznavour To a remix of Charles Aznavour
Refrain Chorus
Mirror, mirror sur le wall Mirror, mirror on the wall
C’est qui l’coolest of them all (x3) Who is the coolest of them all (x3)
Mirror, mirror sur le wall Mirror, mirror on the wall
C’est moi l’coolest of them all I am the coolest of them all
Refrain (x2) Chorus

* Slang expression.
** laitte is also slang for ‘laid(e)’ (ugly)
*** ‘bien’

Photo by O-seop Sim from Pexels [CC0]

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris