Speaker’s Corner – The Francophonie

 Your favourite word or expression in French

My 93-year-old mom was politely helping her nurse practise her French. But she told me “Elle parle français comme une vache espagnole!” [literally: “She speaks French like a Spanish cow!”]. There's nothing like that in English!

Also, since we have no tu/vous in English, my favourite verb is tutoyer.

– Kathryn

J’ai mon voyage! [I’m fed up!]

– Sylvie

Saint-Sicroche, it’s an old expression that we used in Malbaie!

– Élie

Ayoye!

– Marcel

Berlingot [a small carton of milk]. I think it’s cute!

– Robin 

T’es pas sérieux! [You can’t be serious!]

– Ginette

Je ne parle pas français [I don’t speak French].

– Neal

 

Grasse matinée [Sleeping in]. I don’t get to do that much these days.

– Serge

C'est génial! [That’s great!]

– Alice  

Prends soin [Take care]. An expression used when saying goodbye, a local regionalism, full of good intentions.

– Pascal

Animaux [Animals]. Yes, I like all words that end in “aux”, but “animaux” is my favourite. It isn’t because of the pronunciation; I just like these three letters together.

– Diego

C’est pas évident! [It’s not that simple!]

– Yolaine

Mon doux! [My sweet!]

 – Brigitte

C’est la vie! [That’s life!]

– Carrie 

 

Débarbouillette [facecloth]. It’s difficult to stay serious when you’re saying that word!

– Jean Philippe

Bravo!

– Linda

Turlupiner [to bother].

– Barbara

Quintessence.

– Jean-Sébastien 

Balbutiement [stammering].

– Luc 

Vive la vie!

– Kim

Hurluberlu [eccentric]. It’s a word that always makes me smile!

– Amélie  

Sacrebleu. My father said that, and my German friends thought it was very funny.

– Chantal 

Sainte-Bernadette!

– Marc

 
 A Francophone person or character that inspires you

Acadie Man (Acadian comic book superhero)

– Neal

George Forest, for his conviction and dedication to the language rights of Manitoba Francophones. Louis Riel, who devoted a large part of his life to fighting for the rights of Franco-Manitobans and Métis.

– Denise

Bonhomme sept-heures! [A bogeyman]

– Réjean

Jean Béliveau (Montréal Canadiens legend)

– Louis

Chantal Petitclerc (Paralympic champion)

– Julie

Jean-Robert Gauthier (former senator and great defender of Francophone rights)

– Chantal

Edith Piaf (famous French singer)

– Diego

Éric Lapointe (rock singer)

– Sylvie

Guy Laliberté (founder of Cirque du Soleil)

– Lise

Tintin (comic book character)

 – Luc

Biz (member of the hip hop group Loco Locass and speaking coach on “Star Académie”)

– Linda

Matthieu Ricard (Buddhist monk, photographer and author)

– Léo-Paul

René Lévesque (former journalist and premier of Quebec) and Pierre Lapointe (singer-songwriter) 

– Antonia

There are so many! But if I had to choose, I would say Céline Dion (internationally renowned singer).

– Yolaine

Louis Garneau (cyclist and businessman)

– Jason

Damien Robitaille (Franco-Ontarian singer and musician), because he adds his Franco-Ontarian flavour to the musical scene. It’s refreshing!

– Steve

Ginette Reno (beloved Quebec songstress)

– Joanne

Pierre Elliott Trudeau (former politician and prime minister of Canada)

– Marcel

Abdou Diouf (Secretary-General of the International Organization of the Francophonie)

– Hélène-Annie

Étienne Drapeau (singer-songwriter, who became famous through “Star Académie”)

– Lucie

Gisèle Lalonde (Franco-Ontarian activist who led the fight against the closure of Montfort Hospital)

– Ethel

My favourite journalists, Patrick Lagacé and Pierre Foglia, but there would be others if I took the time to read newspapers more often.

– Barbara

Jean Vanier (founder of l’Arche, an international organization that helps people living with developmental disabilities)

 – Peter

Carl Bernier (Radio-Canada host in the Ottawa-Gatineau region)

 – Brigitte

 What you like the most about French or the Francophonie

The precision of the language. English is so fluid that you can basically get away with murder. With French, you can’t, you need to be more precise. So French can help you be more precise in English too.

– Carrie

The ones that I know, they all know how to have a good time!

– Peter

Francophones’ particular relationship with their language. Their pride.

– Julie

The enrichment of Canada by having two languages and more.

– Barbara

French is a rich, expressive language that uses detailed expressions.

– Élie

I like French simply because it’s my language.

– Linda

The diversity of accents and ways of expressing oneself.

– Luc

The resonance of the language.

– Sophie

Its variety. The number of words that you can use to describe something in particular, the number of synonyms, the richness of the language.

– Alice

Its revolutionary fervour! The Francophonie is at its best when it’s tearing up the cobblestones.

– Richard

I find it romantic.

 – Diego

It represents my heritage.

– Louis

It lets us communicate with people from around the world.

– Marc

The history of the language.

– Jean-Sébastien

For me, it’s family traditions—food, for example…sugar pie, my grandmother’s soup, galettes, etc.

 – Marcel

They are different. They are not English and not from the States, and they have a different culture.

– Neal

The colour of our language, the fact that we have so many words to express different things. It’s colourful and full of different nuances.

– Brigitte

It’s meaningful to me because of my roots. And it’s a beautiful, poetic language.

– Yolaine

 What you find the most difficult about the French language

For me, I would say it’s accents. I have gotten used to them by now, but I remember when I was a child, there would be French from France, and I thought they were speaking Japanese.

– Linda

I grew up in a French neighbourhood east of the city, and I would have to say probably the different dialects. I can understand French, but if I go to Hawkesbury or Cornwall, for example…

– Peter

I have battled with French for 50 years, even growing up in Montréal. It’s tough! I can understand it, but not speak it. 

– Barbara

Getting served in French nearly everywhere.

– Marc

I find it difficult to convince others that it’s important, that it’s necessary to protect our language.

– Brigitte

Always justifying why we are here, why we exist and why it’s important.

– Sophie

I would like French to be at the same level as English, and for there to be a lot of people who understand us.

We are Francophones, we have meetings with 10 people, and everything is in English even if there is only one Anglophone. It’s always like that. I have always said that it doesn’t bother me, that it’s an opportunity to practise my English. But it’s difficult.

My sister works for the Quebec government, and I always tell her how lucky she is to be able to work in her language, not to have to struggle to write long reports in English.

When I started working for the federal government, I didn’t speak a word of English. I find that they’ve given me a great opportunity by sending me to six months of full-time English training. It’s a great gift that they’ve given me.

– Ginette

I think for me it’s verb tenses.

– Carrie

The rules, which make it very difficult to become good at French when it’s not your mother tongue, especially from the point of view of writing.

 – Joanne

For me it’s “tout”. “Tout”, “toute”, “tous”: I get them mixed up. I have so much trouble with it. – Jean-Sébastien

– Jean-Sébastien

Verb agreement.

– Linda and Yolaine

There are too many verbs!

– Élie

Grammar.

– Luc

Word boundaries. The way that the words work together makes it hard to hear what people are saying sometimes.

– Neal

The many different sounds.

– Diego

Integration, use, and acceptance of anglicisms. You don’t know which anglicisms are acceptable anymore!

– Alice

Finding the right word. I’m constantly asking myself whether I’m using the right word and I’m never sure.

– Jean Philippe

 

How about you? Would you like to share your opinion? Write to us!

More information about the festivities is available on the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie Web site.

Published on Monday, March 19, 2012

Date modified:
2017-11-08