French conversation – Real-life Example 6 from Québec – Part 1

Deconstructing a conversation in Quebecois Vernacular French.

If you are at all interested in Québécois French as spoken on the streets of Montreal, you’re in for a treat. I’ve transcribed an entire videoclip by a very popular Québécois comedic group called Les têtes à claques. As usual, I provide a cursory translation and in part 2 a technical commentary about the language used.

To be « une tête à claques » is to be a pain in the butt, someone who gets on your nerves, who deserves some slaps (claques) to the head. The grammar of the expression is interesting because here the preposition « à » is used in the sense of « who deserves ». A literal translation would be along the lines of « a head that deserves some slaps ».

This comedic group has been producing a series of hilarious animated short clips and and some longer shows that can be found at Like many Québécois comedians, these shows make extensive use of a informal variety of spoken French that I like to call Québécois Street French or Québécois Vernacular French. This sort of French, often called « le joual », is a kind of urban slang generally associated with speakers lacking in formal education and living in working-class areas of Montreal.

Be forewarned ! This sort of language is considered low-class bad French and is vilified by teachers and the school system in general. Many radio and television broadcasters, especially on Radio-Canada, would not be caught dead speaking like this. However, the interesting thing is that all native speakers of Québec French understand this stigmatized variety of French and can use it when they desire.

For these very reasons, this variety of French attracts both young people who want to rebel against authority figures and comedians who like to poke fun at people. I think it’s important to learn to at least understand this kind of French because it is so widely used for comic effect. On the other hand, I would strongly discourage you from learning to speak in this manner unless you have a particular interest or want to be a comedian.

You are warned again! Be very careful when using this kind of language

Just like slang in most languages, this form of Quebec French Vernacular should be used with much discretion. Much of this language is considered very low-class. Attempts to speak like this may be seen as insulting and making fun of certain speakers. That said, it’s a lot of fun, and if you get the accent right you’ll certainly impress speakers of Québécois French. If you like this sort of stuff, here is another clip with the central character, the notorious low-life Raoul: Le speed dating – Têtes à claques
If enough people want a transcription of this clip,let me know and I’ll consider it.

How to use this material

As with all our real-life example posts, you should print out the transcript. Using the technical commentary in Part 2 and listening to the recording, slowly go through the transcript in order to get a good understanding of what is being said.  Then listen to the recording as many times as you wish until you feel you know the recording by heart and no longer need to look at the transcript. Normally, I would recommend you practice repeating the dialogue until you are comfortable with your fluency and pronunciation, but here I’ll leave you on your own.

Les têtes à claques

– Eh, on est-tu ben, hein…on est-tu ben. (1)
– Mets-en. (2)
– Eh, trouves-tu (que) (3) j’ai des beaux petits pieds.
– Héhéhé.
– Ah – Tamherst.(4) Y a pu (5) moyen d’avoir la paix, host. (6)
– Allo.
– Hey. Johnny Boy, comment qu’y va (7) mon Johnny Boy. (8)
– Bof, pas pire, pas pire.(9)
– Hey écoute ben mon Johnny Boy. Attache ta tuque avec du duct tape-là (10) parce qu’à soir (11), toé, moé (12) pis la belle Cécile, on s’en va faire du ski de soirée à Bromont.
– Tu veux aller faire du ski à soir ?
– You bet, mon ti-pète-là. (13) Aweille, (14) mets tes combines (15) pis tes goggles-là. M’a (16) passer te chercher avec ma BM.(17) On va téper les skis su le top du char. Fuck le rack, (18) j’ai pas le temps, il n’y en a pas-là. M’a pogner deux chocolats chauds chez Dunkin (19) pis après on descend jusqu’à Bromont straight pipe non-stop.
– Non, dis, dis non. Y (20) n’en est pas question.
– Ah. Ben, écoute Raoul. C’est parce que Cécile, elle file (21) pas aujourd’hui-là, je, je pense qu’a (22) a un début de rhume. Elle a le nez qui coule là.
– Mais, j’ai pas le nez qui coule, moi. (23)
– Bah, inquiète-toi pas (24), mon Johnny, m’a y (25) verser une grosse chotte (26) de Benylin (27) en son (Nes)quik–là (28) pis (29) m’a y coller un couple (30) de hot patchs (31) un peu partout sur le body. Avec ça mon ti-poutte (32) elle va se sentir comme si elle faisait du ski à Myrtle Beach (33). Je… je te jure, hostie, elle va-tu être humide, hostie.
– Du ski à soir. Et, lui est fatigant, rare. (34)
– Hé…Cécile, elle fait dire qu’elle est fatiguée pis elle s’endort. (35) Ça…a s’endort la pauvre petite, t’sais (36) ben. Écoute, parce que ça nous tente pas vraiment de faire du ski à soir. Ben, en fait. Ça nous tente pas pantoute.(37)
– Haha. Hostie, qu’on est sur le même wave moi pis toi, hostie. Le ski-là, c’est juste un prétexte. Il y a un beach party dans le chalet. Ah, écoute mon Johnny-là, dis à la belle Cécile qu’y a rien de mieux pour réveiller quelqu’un que de se faire garrocher (38) de l’eau dans ‘a (39) face pendant le concours de wet t-shirt, hostie. A va capoter, hostie.
– Ouf, je suis pas sûr que m’a y dire ça, pas sûr que c’est une bonne idée.
– Écoute mon Johnny-là. C’est parce que là, j’ai…tu peux pas passer à côté de ça. Moi, j’ai trois passes VIP, avec ça t’as deux pina colada pis y (40) te donnent un freesbee gratis. Hé, tonight is the night. On va danser le Macarena sur le speaker, ça va être l’enfer, (41) il va y avoir de la poule (42) partout, hostie, on va capoter.
– (bruits de poule)
– Qu’est c’est qu’y dit ? Là, (43 ) que c’est qu’y dit ?
– Attends, attends une minute. Il dit (imitation d’un poulet).
– Passe-moi-le, passe-moi-le, là. (44)
– Ben, ben. Bouge pas, Raoul.
– Allo, Raoul.
– Hey, Cécile, darling. Comment qu’a (45) va la belle Cécile.
– Ban, elle va pas ben parce qu’il y a un gros moron (46) qui l’achale (47) pendant qu’a prend son bain.
– Cécile, Cécile t’es dure avec mon Johnny. Y est pas si pire que ça. (48) Bah ok y est un ti peu (49) moron mais pas tant que ça-là. Écoute mon ti-poussin-là, fais-toi des tresses avec des jujubes (50) aux bouttes-là (51) pis mets-toi que’que (52) chose de super tight qui sèche pas trop vite-là. Je shoute (53) dans ma BM pis m’a être là dans vingt minutes. OK, bye.
– Ben, attends. Ça dit, Johnny-là. Ça, ça te prend un afficheur (54). Ouais. Là, ben, ça va faire çà. (55) Ça prend un afficheur.
– Ben, on y (56) aller. Y donnent un frisbee gratis.


This is a minimalist translation. I have no pretence at trying to render the flavour of Québécois slang.
– Isn’t this awesome. Cool.
– You can say that again.
– Eh, how do you like my little feet.
– Hahaha.
– Oh – shit. Can’t we have some peace and quiet here, damn it.
– Hello.
– Hey. Johnny Boy, what’s up with my Johnny Boy.
– Not bad, not bad.
– Listen up Johnny Boy. Hang on tight because tonight, you, me and little Cécile, we are going to go night skiing at Bromont.
– You want to go skiing tonight ?
– You bet, buddy. Let’s go, put on your longjohns and your goggles. I’ll pick you up in my BMW. We’ll tape the skis on the roof of my wheels. To hell with the rack, I haven’t the time, so there’s none. I’ll pick up two hot chocolates at Dunkin (Donuts), and we’ll head off to Bromont straight pipe, non stop.
– No, say no, no. There’s no way.
– Ah. Well, listen Raoul. You see, Cécile is not feeling well. I think she has a cold coming on. Her nose is running.
– But my nose isn’t running.
– Don’t worry, Johnny Boy, I’ll give her a shot of Benylin in her Kwik, then I’ll stick some hot patches on her body. With that she’ll feel as if she was skiiing on Myrtle Beach. I swear she’s going to be wet..
– Skiing tonight. He’s a real pain in the ass.
– Hmm…Cécile says she’s tired and sleepy. She’s falling asleep, you know. Listen, we’re not really interested in skiing tonight. In fact, we not at all interested.
– Haha. Shit, we understand each other. The skiing is just an excuse. There’s a beach party in the chalet. Listen, Johnny Boy, tell the pretty Cécile that nothing wakes you up better than a bucket of water on your head during the wet t-shirt contest. She’s going to freak out, man.
– Um, I’m not sure that I’m going to tell her that…I don’t think it’s a good idea.
– Hey, Johnny. It’s like this..we can’t let this go by. I have two VIP passes, you get two pina colada and they give you a free frisbe. Hey, tonight is the night. We’ll dance to the Macarena on the speakers, it’s going to be hot. There’ll be hot babes everywhere. It will be awesome.
– (chick cackling sounds)
– What’s he saying?
– Hold on, hold on a minute. He says (does a impression of a chick cackling)
– Let me speak to him. Hand him to me.
– Hold on Raoul, Hold on.
– Hi, Raoul.
– Hey, Cécile, darling. How’s the beautiful Cécile today.
– Well, it could be better ; there’s an asshole who is bothering her while she’s in the bathtub
– Cécile, Cécile don’t be so hard on Johnny. He’s not that bad. OK, he may be a bit of an asshole but he’s not all that bad. Listen up baby, do your hair in braids with candies at the tips…and put on a top that’s super tight and doesn’t dry too quickly. I’ll jump in my BMW and I’ll be there in twenty minutes.. OK, bye.
– Hey, wait a minutes. That’s it, Johnny, You need call display. That’s it. We need call display.
– Let’s go. After all, they’re giving away frisbees.

Related Posts

1. How to use the real-life examples.
2. French Conversation – Real-life example 6 from Quebec – Part 2

Stanley Aléong is a polyglot, author, musician, language coach in French, English and Spanish, language workshop facilitator and organizer of French-English conversation meetups in Montreal, Canada. 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 Essential French Wall Chart Calendar. Reach him at

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