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?

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

  1. Julien says:


    I’m a native French speaker and I spent several months in Montréal.
    Your article made me smile, because it reminds me so many things… french Canadians indeed often use english words.

    The first one that surprised me is “party” : “Tu viens au party ce soir ?”, meaning “Are you coming to the party tonight ?”
    Pretty understandable for a french guy, but Canadians do pronounce it like “parté”, which is totally weird…
    Generally speaking, they use english words they see every day on their computers => “forwarder, sender, checker (we also love this one in french)…”

    But something has always bothered me during my stay… they translate every single movie title or brand’s slogan!
    For instance, when yo go to Mc Donald’s, I’m pretty sure you can order a “Happy Meal” all around the world, but not in Quebec, you’ll ask for a “Joyeux Festin” … Come on ^^

    However, I love you guys !

    Greatings from France.

    • Bonjour des Etats-Unis, Julien!

      Thank you so much for your insight! I love your point about how they translate things that would normally just stay in English! You’re totally right! The “happy meal” example is perfect! Another one is their stop signs that say “arret” instead of stop like they do in France! I must admit, I love their selective stubbornness though!

      Thanks for the love and for commenting! :)

    • Denise says:

      “But something has always bothered me during my stay… they translate every single movie title or brand’s slogan!
      For instance, when yo go to Mc Donald’s, I’m pretty sure you can order a “Happy Meal” all around the world, but not in Quebec, you’ll ask for a “Joyeux Festin” … Come on” ^^

      That is becuase of the laws within Quebec to preserve their culture.

  2. Joe Garofalo says:

    How funny. I thought that Japanese was possibly the only language that did this. They have an alphabet called “Katakana” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katakana) which is used pretty much exclusively for foreign words and loan words.

    For instance, the word “camera” in Japanese is simply カメラ, or “Kamera.” What’s computer? コンピューター, or “Konpyuutaa.”

    There’s a running joke among native English people who speak Japanese that if you don’t know a word in Japanese, you can just “katakanify” the English word and they’ll probably know what you’re saying.

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