French Conversation – Real-life Example 3 From Quebec – Part 1

Ear training for Quebec French Conversation

Ready for a challenge? Here is a sample of French conversation in contemporary informal Québécois French. Listeners who are unfamiliar with Québécois French will find much of this recording incomprehensible

Most of the features of spoken language that I discuss in my post on how to use these real-life examples are present.  The speed is very fast. Lots of contractions and overlaps of the two speakers. A few things are not intelligible even for native speakers.

Why this example?

This is an excellent example  of contemporary Quebec French spoken by two male friends of similar age (mid-30s)  and background. It is colloquial French with lots of joking, but it is not really slang and it does not have the main features of uneducated  working-class speech.

It is not the snobbish French of Radio-Canada, but it represents very well the informal language used  in everyday conversations. If you can understand this, you will have no problems with Quebec French.

Although the language is unscripted, I really got the impression that conversation was somewhat staged with all the main themes worked out in advance.

The speakers are two young show business personalities in their mid-30s. Simon-Olivier Fecteau is a  well-known actor, stand-up comic and movie and theatre director. He is well known for a web tv program called En auditions avec Simon. MC Gilles is a movie director and has a web tv program called “Deux steamés” from which I took the following excerpt.

(The title “Deux steamés” comes from the popular name of a steamed hot dog or “un steamé.” The concept of this program calls for the interviewer, MC Gilles,  to meet his guest in a fast-food restaurant. Here the venue is a popular Montreal restaurant called La Banquise that is famous for that unique dish, poutine, an artery-clogging combination of French fries, cheese curds and brown sauce.)

How to use

Print out this transcript. You will have to listen to this recording in very small doses with the transcript in hand.  Then look at the translation and listen to the recording a few more times until you get used to the accent and you think you can understand the entire conversation.  The next post goes in to the technical details of the language used.

This excerpt ends at 2.49 of the complete recording.


–Merci, Simon-Olivier d’être….(1) à la Banquise.
–C’est un plaisir, M.C. Comment qu’on t’appelle ? (2) On t’appelle..,
— M.C.
–M.C. Gilles. Personne t’appelle Gilles ? (3)
–Tu peux m’appeler M, tsé.(4)
–C’est encore plus (5) intime,
–Çomme de fait (6)..Merci, M.
–Est-ce que c’est un endroit que tu fréquentes, la Banquise ?(7)
–C’est un endroit que je fréquente tard la nuit.(8)
–C’est ça. (9)
–Pis, là,(10)  c’est de jour, c’est la première fois que je vois la couleur (11) des murs.
–Tu trouves ça dur un peu, hein?
–Mais non, c’est pas si pire (12).
–Là, je veux savoir, qui c’est que (13) j’interroge parce que  t’es quoi dans la vie? Parce que là t’as (14) t’as fait comme un milliard d’affaires. T’es-tu (15) un humoriste ? Un réalisateur ? Un acteur ? Un metteur en scène ?
–Je pense…ça.. quand je signe, mettons,(16) mes chèques, quoi que ce soit.
–Ouais (17)
–Je veux dire des affaires écrites. Réalisateur. On dirait que ça englobe la patente (18) parce que qu’est ce que j’aime,  c’est.. j’aime ça, conter des histoires.(19)  Fait que (20) je les écris. J’aime ça, jouer dedans. Fait que je..tsé…(21) j’écris ce que je joue dedans.(22)
–Pis en web ?
–Fait que…que ce soit …soit réalisateur ou un égocentrique maniaque…genre(23) un…un entre les deux.
–Pis en web c’est la même affaire, tsé, tout (24) le…
–Mais t’es pas un puriste,  quand t’avais huit ans, t’avais pas une caméra chez toi en disant je vais devenir réal…tu faisais pas comme ça avec ton père?
–Ben, pas loin en fait, mon père en fait
–Parce que mon père…(25). ça tu le sais pas…c’est pas dans ta fiche, qui est vide d’ailleurs.
–Mais non, ça c’est (26) d’autres choses que tu vas voir tantôt(27). Ha!!
–Mon père c’est un artiste peintre(28) …de métier. Fait que (29) quand j’étais jeune,…euh… i (30) faisait tout le temps (31)…(re)garde (32) là-bas…il y a du rouge…dans…dans la nature…checke ça..(33) pis il faisait ça. Fait que je commençais à faire ça jeune. Pis (34) à dix ans j’ai commencé à gosser (35) mes parents pour avoir une caméra vidéo pour faire de petits films…genre (36) à onze ans j’ai eu ma première caméra vidéo…C’était un Fisher-Price et ça filmait sur des petites cassettes audio quatre-vingt-dix minutes. Ça durait quatre minutes de vidéo. noir et blanc vidéo horrible mais ç’a commencé…
–Mais sur e-Bay-là, un couple (37) de piasses (38) que tu pourrais faire avec ça-là (39).
–Un couple de piasses que je pourrai faire avec ça si je retrouve les cassettes. (40)
–(rire) Détail. T’as coréalisé Bluff (41). Est-ce que tu parles encore à ton co… Moi, (42) j’ai déjà coréalisé de quoi…pis j’y (43) parle pu (44) …on se parle pu.
–Pis ç’a créé de la chicane (45).
–C’est-tu vrai ? (46)
–Est-ce que tu y (47) parles encore ?
–Oui, en fait, on s’est…on s’est…on s’est très bien entendus sur le tournage. Pis, ce qui est rare. En effet, parce que c’est très dur. Mais, moi, (48) je viens d’un groupe… je te dirais qu’à l’époque on était plus jeunes aussi …pis ça…là c’était plus toffe (49) mais on avait ben de fun pareil (50) mais c’était dur…tsé.. par boutte (51)…des idées…pis tout ça…pis tout le monde avait ben des idées…fait que.(52)
–Pis, un. Est-ce que tu leur parles encore ?
–Oui, j’étais allé à leur lancement récemment…pis j’ai pas parlé…il y en a un sur trois à qui je parle.
–Ben, c’est pas pire. (53)
–Ghislain le nouveau membre…on n’ a pas eu le temps..

The translation

Translating this material was not easy. I have deliberately resisted the temptation  to make the translation very idiomatic or colloquial.  It’s a bit awkward, but it lets some of the French structure stand out a bit.

–Thanks, Simon-Olivier  for being…at the Banquise.
–It’s my pleasure, M.C. What do people call you? People call you?
— M.C.
–M.C. Gilles. Nobody calls you Gilles?
–You can call me M. You know.
–It’s even more intimate.
–So.Thanks, M.
–Is this a place where you come often, la Banquise?
–It’s a place that I frequent late at night.
–So, now it’s during the day, this is the first time I’m seeing the colours of the walls.
–You must find it a bit rough, eh?
–No, no, it’s not that bad.
–Now, I want to know, who am I interviewing because what are you really? Because you’ve done like a billion things. Are you a comedian, un movie director, un actor, a stage director?
–I think…that…let’s say when I sign checks, whatever.
–I mean written things. (Movie) director. It seems to include the whole shebang because that’s that what I like. . that is…I like to tell stories. So I write stories.  I like acting in them. So…you know.. I write what I play in
–And on the web.
— So,  it’s either director or an egocentric maniac. of the two.
–And on the web it’s the same thing. you know, all…
–But you’re not a purist, when you were eight years old, you didn’t have a camera at home and saying I’m going to become a director…you didn’t do that with your dad?
–Well, actually, you’re not that far off. My father in fact…
–Because my dad…that you don’t know…it’s not on your sheet, that’s empty by the way.
–But no, that’s something else that you’ll see later. Ha!!
–My dad is a painter…a professional painter.  So, when I was young, umm,…he was always saying to me…look over there…there is some red…in nature…look at that…and he would do like this.  So, I started to do this at an early age.  Then, at the age of ten I started to bug my parents for a video camera…so by the age of eleven I had my first video camera…It was a Fisher-Price and it used these little audio cassettes 90 minutes long. . It gave about four minutes of black and white video; it was awful, but it was a start.
–But, on e-Bay, you could make a few bucks with it.
–I could make a few bucks if I could only find the cassettes.
–(laughs) A minor detail.  You codirected Bluff. Do you still talk to your co… I codirected some stuff…and I no longer speak to them.  We don’t speak.
–So, it caused a falling out.
–Is that so?
–Do you still speak to them?
–Yeah, actually we really got along well during the shoot.  Something that’s pretty unusual.  Actually, it’s pretty difficult . But I come from a group….I’d say that at the time we were much younger…and so back then it was tougher but we had a lot of fun. But it was hard at times…ideas and all that stuff…everybody had ideas. So.
–So, one,  Do you still speak to them?
–Yes,  I went to a launch party recently. ..and I didn’t speak…I only speak to one of the three.
–Well,  not bad.
–Ghislain the new member…we didn’t have time to..,

The transcript and the translation should allow you to decode this sample of a Quebec French conversation. Part two in the next blog will explain lots of little details that may be causing you problems.

As always, I recommend that you listen to this material many, many times. It will grow on you. In no time you should be able to understand it easily.

Stanley Aléong is a polyglot, author, musician and language coach in French, English and Spanish. He likes to share his passion for languages and believes that anybody can learn to speak a foreign language well with the right methods and tools. He has also invented a cool visual learning tool called the Language Wall Chart Calendar that is based on his own learning experience. Reach him at


French Conversation – Real-life Example 3 From Quebec – Part 1 — 3 Comments

  1. i am able to comprehend with slowly spoken french ….. however when i hear it spoken so quickly and with the right accent i really find it difficult to even hear…. any recommendations on how to improve on this?

  2. @webam
    I know it’s difficult, but that is the purpose of the blog and these case studies. I really believe that it is very important to listen many times. And I’m talking 20 times or more.

  3. “C’est un endroit que je fréquente tard la nuit.”

    Quand il dit “tard la nuit” il n’utilise pas de mot comme ‘pendant’ ou ‘dans’ dans la phrase. Donc est-ce que c’est correcte à dire, par exemple, “D’habitude, je me reveille tôt le matin” ou “Pendant le weekend on reviens à la maison tard la nuit”?

    Une autre petite question: “Par boutte.” T’as expliqué dans l’analyse technique que “boutte” est la prononciation quebecoise de bout, mais il veux dire quoi quand il dit l’expression “par boutte”?

    Merci beaucoup!