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Slang Words and Idioms that are different in Quebec French and France French

Slang words and idioms are the main difference between French spoken French and Metropolitan French. This is mainly because Quebec French has a large collection of unique slang words and idiomatic expressions that are not present in European French, and, therefore, makes no sense for a French speaking speaker metropolitan. In fact, the number is so large that several reference books devoted to this subject have been, and continue to be, written.

Here are some expressions and slang words specific to Quebec French. The examples below range from being weird to funny, even to a non-French speaker.

My boyfriend. It means “my friend” among French-speaking Canadians and is also a clear example of Anglicism – “chum” is actually an English idiom. What makes this expression a bit confusing, even for Francophones in Canada, is that “chum” can also mean “boyfriend”, so that it has the potential to create embarrassing situations between the sexes.

My girlfriend. Similar in some respects to the previous example, this expression means “my girlfriend” for a Quebec francophone, whereas it literally means “my girlfriend” to a metropolitan francophone, which will not make much sense.

Fucked-garlic. Literally means “kiss my garlic”. Clearly, it is a derivative of an English expression that asks you to embrace a certain part of human anatomy. As to why francophone Canadians chose to use garlic instead of an area between the back and the thighs, we still do not know very well.

To have pain in the hair It is roughly translated as “to have a pain in the hair”. It is an expression used to describe an intense headache. We can only assume that this comes from the fact that the headache is so severe that it has even caused the pain in the hair.

Be tiguidou. Everything is just dandy. No problem here! A-OK! (I like this expression and I wish we could have here in France).

Hello hi. Quite explicit, this greeting frequently used is another example of anglicism in French Quebec. This should be understandable; this is often used by someone who offers help, such as a salesperson or government employee, which is their way of saying “I can help you in French or English”. However, the Parti Québécois has repressed this greeting recently (source: here), we will see how it goes.

Letting someone “eat wool on your back” means that you are letting someone go crazy or scam you. Personally, I think it’s one of the most creative expressions of the French Quebec variety.

I have the language on the ground. This translates to “my tongue is on the floor” which means that you are really hungry or tired. The disadvantage of this phrase is that you may need to elaborate further after each time you say it, which, all the more, delays the relief you hope to get from hunger or exhaustion. This expression, like the previous example, can have its roots in classical French.

Do not drop the potato! Literally, it means “do not let go of the potato”. Another interesting expression, if you hear that from a French Canadian, he could encourage you not to give up a difficult task, which is touching. But, most of the time, it more likely threatens you to not bet on a bet, a challenge or a promise.

Kids. It can be a very delicate word between Quebec French and Metropolitan French. When in France, it will not be a problem if you tell someone “Are you ok, kids?” In which you ask just how their children do. Kids in French Quebec, however, became mean “testicles” for whatever reason. In short, the typical way to greet the children of someone in metropolitan French may not arouse a pleasant answer when speaking in Quebec.

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