Thursday, March 03, 2011
Like Ross Macdonald, another lost Canadian, I too feel the pull of the Great White North tugging at me, always tugging. And being a Montrealer (a distinct society within a distinct society within a distinct society) the gravity can get particularly fierce.
That's why I got such a hoot out of this photo my friend Bruce sent me. It was taken in predominantly English-speaking Ontario...
Not from Québec? Basically, French swear words in Québec are very idiomatic, rotted in history and culture, and many of them are based on the sacraments of the Catholic Church. To utter the French words for "tabernacle" or "chalice" or "the host" is just rude, the equivalent of saying "shit" or "fuck" or "hell" or whatever. But with the very real sin of blasphemy added to the mix.
So, just like in English, people uses slightly less offensive euphemisms: sugar, fudge, heck. Stuff like that.
"Câline des bin" is a popular phrase, generally acceptable even in polite company. Sort of the equivalent of "What the heck!" or maybe "Darn!" Literally, it almost translates as "cup of beans", but whatever, it's pretty harmless.
My mom even used to say it, and she didn't even speak French. My dad, who learned his French in the VanDoos, a French-Canadian regiment of the regiment, would use something considerably stronger.
Yeah, it's a long walk for a short laugh, but that picture made my day.