English speakers in Quebec turn their heads
10 Quebec French Phrases You Need To Know
The development of Quebec French has been shaped by colonial history, First Nations influences, industrial change, and the occasional Anglicism, and is a dynamic feature of the region's cultural identity. To fully appreciate the wealth of Québécois you need to go beyond the basics of the textbook. Here are 10 expressions you should know while in town and interacting with your French-Canadian friends.
Direct translation: My bud
In Quebec the word chum can refer to a friend or a friend, which can potentially confuse things. This word is also a clear example of the mixing of French and English in common slang terms, as words move between the two languages and take on different meanings.
Quebec City | © Remi / Flickr
Direct translation: My blonde
Likewise relates blonde in Canadian French does not affect your hair color. Instead, the word is used to To mean girlfriend.
Avoir mal aux cheveux
You a HIRACHE
Have you ever awakened to a headache and rolling nausea in the aftermath of a wild night of drinking? This phrase perfectly describes that feeling. To times aux cheveux means you have a terrible hangover; basically it's so bad that even your hair hurts.
Night club | © Sax / Flickr
Virer une brosse / prendre un brooch
To turn / take a brush
That phrase is another one that refers to an alcoholic night, or more colloquially, shaken up or wasted. The verb variant depends on the region of Quebec you are currently in.
Bédaine de bière
Direct translation: beer belly
Following the topic of alcohol, one bédaine de bière have is a literal translation of the well-known English term "beer belly". Interestingly, this expression does not exist in France.
The beer culture in Quebec is strong © Raymond Johnston / Flickr
Être en musus
Direct translation: To be angry
Québec has many slang expressions - not to mention swear words - that come from the province's French Catholic heritage. A variant (although far-fetched) of maudit , mus (or mouse) means cursed and implies that someone is having a bad day or is angry.
Avoir du front tout le tour de la tete
Direct translation: To have a forehead around your head
Having your forehead around your head is a Québécois expression that means that you are naughty or outrageous. This term is usually used to describe someone who goes too far in insolence, who demands too much, and who has attitudes that are inconsistent with culturally appropriate humility.
J'ai la langue à terre
Direct translation: I have my tongue on the floor
In Quebec, if you have your tongue on the floor, it means you are either very tired or very hungry.
On se calme le pompom!
Calm down the pom-pom!
This term refers to the wool pompon that adorns the end of a tuque (or winter hat) and is reminiscent of an overly excited child jumping around uncontrollably in the snow. When you put two and two together, this delightful phrase is used in times of excitement or panic to "calm down" or "relax".
Skiing on Mont-Tremblant, Quebec | © Shelby Bell / Flickr
Être vite sur ses patins
Direct translation: be faster on the skates
Another expression that goes back to the region's stiff winter weather, to be quick on skates is a big compliment. It means that you are a quick thinker, agile, and intelligent.
Skating in Montreal | © Pikawil / Flickr
Thanks to Isabel Harvey for her linguistic advice and recommendations.
Author: Stewart Bradley
Stewart Bradley is a 38 year old journalist. Pop culture advocate. Analyst. Passionate travel evangelist. Communicator. Twitter specialist. Zombie enthusiast.
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