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  #1  
Old 01-02-2012, 10:31 AM
HeyHomie HeyHomie is offline
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What is This French Expression? Sounds Like "Zoot-allay!"

Keenan Thompson does a bit on Saturday Night Live where he impersonates a French comedian. Whenever he says something [that he thinks is] witty, he exclaims something that sounds like "Zoot-allay!" and breaks into dance. Because, you know, that's his shtick.

I thought that was just specific to Keenan's act, but apparently this expression is a thing, because another person imitating a Frenchman (for comic effect) did the same thing on another show I saw last night.

What is it, and what does it mean?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 01-02-2012, 10:34 AM
Motorgirl Motorgirl is online now
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Zut alors ?
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  #3  
Old 01-02-2012, 10:34 AM
Kamino Neko Kamino Neko is offline
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'Zut alors!'

Basically means 'dangit!'
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  #4  
Old 01-02-2012, 10:34 AM
Simplicio Simplicio is offline
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Zut Alors!

I've usually heard it translated as "damn"

ETA: Zut Alors people are fast

Last edited by Simplicio; 01-02-2012 at 10:34 AM..
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  #5  
Old 01-02-2012, 10:36 AM
Simplicio Simplicio is offline
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OK, since we're doing french cuss words, my dad used to say something when he wanted to swear. It sounded like "mouche tabernac".

I know "tabernac" is a quebecquois cuss, taking the holy tabernacle in vain. What was "mouche"?

If it helps, he was American, but had spent a good chunk of his life in Vermont near the Canadian border, so I suspect thats where he picked it up. So probably something they say in Quebec?

Last edited by Simplicio; 01-02-2012 at 10:38 AM..
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  #6  
Old 01-02-2012, 10:44 AM
Vinyl Turnip Vinyl Turnip is online now
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Do they have flies in Vermont or Quebec, by any chance?
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  #7  
Old 01-02-2012, 10:59 AM
Simplicio Simplicio is offline
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Originally Posted by Vinyl Turnip View Post
Do they have flies in Vermont or Quebec, by any chance?
Crap loads. And googling I see Mouche is french for 'fly' which I assume is what your driving at.

But "fly tabernacle" doesn't make a lot of sense (granted curses are often pretty abstract).

And probably more importantly, I just made up the "mouche" spelling. I never saw him write it (and don't even know if "mouche" was one word or two, though it sounded like one to my ear). The word had two syllables, the first sounded like the sound a cow makes, the second sounded like the "che" in the name Che Guevara.
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  #8  
Old 01-02-2012, 11:05 AM
jz78817 jz78817 is offline
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As has been said, it's "zut alors." It's French for "Look, a lors!"
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  #9  
Old 01-02-2012, 11:13 AM
leahcim leahcim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simplicio View Post
So probably something they say in Quebec?
I know that it is something they say a lot in French-as-a-second-language catholic elementary school textbooks targeted at the Anglo-Canadian market. My take is that it is a comically weak curse.
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  #10  
Old 01-02-2012, 11:15 AM
Simplicio Simplicio is offline
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Originally Posted by leahcim View Post
I know that it is something they say a lot in French-as-a-second-language catholic elementary school textbooks targeted at the Anglo-Canadian market. My take is that it is a comically weak curse.
"zut alors" or "moochee tabernac"? If the latter and you've seen it spelled, do you know the spelling of the first word(s?)
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  #11  
Old 01-02-2012, 11:24 AM
mnemosyne mnemosyne is offline
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maudit tabarnak.

If your father was prone to saying the "d" as "dz" (very common in Québecois French), then what you are remembering is likely 'maudit" (cursed/damned), which could be pronounced a little like "MO-(d)chee"...with a clipped 'd' sound.

I suck at phonetic spelling, especially with sounds from French written in English!
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  #12  
Old 01-02-2012, 11:28 AM
Simplicio Simplicio is offline
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Thanks Mnemosyne!

One of those things I've been sort of wondering about on and off for a decade or so.
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  #13  
Old 01-02-2012, 11:35 AM
leahcim leahcim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simplicio View Post
"zut alors" or "moochee tabernac"? If the latter and you've seen it spelled, do you know the spelling of the first word(s?)
Sorry, zut alors. (zut, ZUT, ZUT!!!) But I've also seen the "maudit" mnemosyne mentions (although certainly not in any catholic elementary school textbook).
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  #14  
Old 01-02-2012, 01:16 PM
mnemosyne mnemosyne is offline
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Glad I could help.

The word "maudit" might have been in a Catholic elementary textbook, as it is also used as a regular word and not just as profanity, as is the case with most Québecois profanity that originates in the church. You'll see variant spellings and pronunciations - like tabarnak for tabernacle - to emphasize the curse or more accurately reflect the way it's said when used, but these really are words used "every day" in religious contexts.

Two examples of the interesting duality of these words in Québec:

The Montreal Archdiocese's ad campaign from a few years back consisted of giant signs with the words Tabernacle, Ciboire and Hostie, along with their proper definitions to "reclaim" the words. It was humourous and perhaps mildly scandalous and rather clever.

A Québec-based brewery, Unibroue (originate here, but they've been bought by Sleemans, which was bought by Sapporo...) names most of it's beers off of Québecois folk tales and plays a little on sacrilege; La Maudite, L'eau bénite ("holy water"), Don de Dieu ("gift of God") are some of their beer names.


I feel like I post a lot in threads about Québec profanity... either that, or the Habs. This year, the two seem to mix well... :P
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  #15  
Old 01-02-2012, 03:16 PM
Jaledin Jaledin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Simplicio View Post
One of those things I've been sort of wondering about on and off for a decade or so.
Could have been "moche" -- I guess like a filthy tabernacle. I don't remember enough of the IPA to write the standard vowels of that and "mouche," but they're pretty close-ish, I guess, to be mistaken depending on the accent. Never knew that francophone Canadians might say "dz" for "d" -- good thing to keep in mind.

"Zut alors" is already covered -- but who says that, anyway? It's like a comic book slang -- really corny. At least IME.

Last edited by Jaledin; 01-02-2012 at 03:18 PM..
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  #16  
Old 01-02-2012, 07:22 PM
Hypnagogic Jerk Hypnagogic Jerk is offline
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Of course, zut alors! isn't actually pronounced like "zoot-allay" in French -- the vowel in "zut" is a [y] or maybe a [ʏ], and "alors" is all wrong -- but Americans really seem to enjoy transforming all French vowels into this 'ayyyyy' sound. So that's what.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mnemosyne View Post
The word "maudit" might have been in a Catholic elementary textbook, as it is also used as a regular word and not just as profanity, as is the case with most Québecois profanity that originates in the church.
This said, I don't think I've heard the specific word combination "maudit tabarnac" very often. And "maudit" doesn't very much sound like "moo-chee", but filtered through an American accent, it can end up sounding a bit like that.

Quote:
A Québec-based brewery, Unibroue (originate here, but they've been bought by Sleemans, which was bought by Sapporo...) names most of it's beers off of Québecois folk tales and plays a little on sacrilege; La Maudite, L'eau bénite ("holy water"), Don de Dieu ("gift of God") are some of their beer names.
Well yeah, and there's a brewpub in Sherbrooke called the Siboire. Their ads play on the homophony between "ciboire" (the church vessel, and the swear word) and "si boire..." ("if drinking...", followed by some witty thought).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jaledin View Post
Never knew that francophone Canadians might say "dz" for "d" -- good thing to keep in mind.
In front of 'i' or 'u', 't' and 'd' are usually pronounced with a certain amount of affrication in Canadian dialects of French (maybe others as well).
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  #17  
Old 01-02-2012, 07:40 PM
Northern Piper Northern Piper is offline
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For instance, "petit" often is pronounced "p'tzit".
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  #18  
Old 01-02-2012, 08:03 PM
Hypnagogic Jerk Hypnagogic Jerk is offline
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Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
For instance, "petit" often is pronounced "p'tzit".
Petit might be pronounced [ptsɪ], but there's no 't' there at the end. Although the feminine form petite would be something like [ptsɪt].
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  #19  
Old 01-02-2012, 08:41 PM
mnemosyne mnemosyne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hypnagogic Jerk View Post
Of course, zut alors! isn't actually pronounced like "zoot-allay" in French -- the vowel in "zut" is a [y] or maybe a [ʏ], and "alors" is all wrong -- but Americans really seem to enjoy transforming all French vowels into this 'ayyyyy' sound. So that's what.
That is odd, isn't it? It's an interesting reflection of how non-francophones might hear the French language...full of "ayyy" sounds!


Quote:
This said, I don't think I've heard the specific word combination "maudit tabarnac" very often. And "maudit" doesn't very much sound like "moo-chee", but filtered through an American accent, it can end up sounding a bit like that.
I've certainly heard maudit tabarnac...any pretty much any combination of terms. That's why I thought of it, and imagined it through the ears of an Anglohone to suggest it.

I wonder if it's semi-regional? Perhaps in the Gatineau region, people use certain combo-phrases of profanity, and in the Townships they use something else, etc? I wonder if anyone's ever studied that? I am very much not a linguist and wouldn't even know where to start looking!


Quote:
Well yeah, and there's a brewpub in Sherbrooke called the Siboire. Their ads play on the homophony between "ciboire" (the church vessel, and the swear word) and "si boire..." ("if drinking...", followed by some witty thought).
My mom, who doesn't drink beer, somehow got some of their coasters and gave them to us for Christmas (in our stocking). Despite being from Sherbrooke, I've never been there. I need to arrange to correct this oversight in my life.


Quote:
In front of 'i' or 'u', 't' and 'd' are usually pronounced with a certain amount of affrication in Canadian dialects of French (maybe others as well).
This is the one linguistic fact that I know! It's a bit of a shibboleth, apparently, since even a Québecois actor faking an otherwise good French accent will tend to do it. D->dz and t ->ts sounds both have it.

divan (couch) : France: "dee-vahn", Québec "dzee-vahn"
petit (small): France "pe-tee", Québec "pe-tzee"

I'll leave the actual IPA sounds to you, HJ
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  #20  
Old 01-03-2012, 01:12 PM
Hypnagogic Jerk Hypnagogic Jerk is offline
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Originally Posted by mnemosyne View Post
I've certainly heard maudit tabarnac...any pretty much any combination of terms.
Yeah, maybe, but I think I'd go with "maudit câlisse" before "maudit tabarnac".

Quote:
I wonder if it's semi-regional? Perhaps in the Gatineau region, people use certain combo-phrases of profanity, and in the Townships they use something else, etc? I wonder if anyone's ever studied that? I am very much not a linguist and wouldn't even know where to start looking!
Maybe it's been studied -- the differences in vocabulary between different regions in Quebec certainly have, but I don't know about this particular question -- but I'm also not a linguist, it's just a subject that interests me to some level. I'd really need to read some good books on the subject. Even when I transcribe some pronunciations using the IPA, I go with the few symbols that I know and with the help of Wikipedia. They may not be entirely accurate.

Quote:
My mom, who doesn't drink beer, somehow got some of their coasters and gave them to us for Christmas (in our stocking). Despite being from Sherbrooke, I've never been there. I need to arrange to correct this oversight in my life.
I don't know when they opened, and their website seems silent on the question (other than to say the café part opened in 2009).

Ah, I see that they opened in 2007. That's a few years after you moved from Sherbrooke I believe.
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  #21  
Old 01-03-2012, 02:22 PM
zut zut is offline
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Mais oui?
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  #22  
Old 01-03-2012, 02:26 PM
mnemosyne mnemosyne is offline
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My family is still in the area, as are several friends. I'm in Sherbrooke maybe one weekend every month or two, since 2006. Opening in 2007 does explain why I hadn't heard of it before, though! I know my FIL has been a few times.

In way-over-thinking my methods of profaning, I think I'm more likely to say maudit crisse and ostie tabarnac than maudi tabarnac, but the latter plays "in my uncle's voice" in my head, so perhaps he's prone to saying it. I've definitely heard it though.
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  #23  
Old 01-03-2012, 02:27 PM
mnemosyne mnemosyne is offline
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Mais oui?
...alors?
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  #24  
Old 01-04-2012, 10:41 PM
Sparky812 Sparky812 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mnemosyne View Post
A Québec-based brewery, Unibroue (originate here, but they've been bought by Sleemans, which was bought by Sapporo...) names most of it's beers off of Québecois folk tales and plays a little on sacrilege; La Maudite, L'eau bénite ("holy water"), Don de Dieu ("gift of God") are some of their beer names.

P

Espèce de merde, n'oubliez-pas Trois Pistoles et La Fin de Monde!

Unibroue has some of the greatest beer label artwork ever!
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  #25  
Old 01-04-2012, 11:49 PM
mnemosyne mnemosyne is offline
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Since I drank a Fin du Monde just 2 days ago, I can hardly say I forgot about it! But it's not as much of a religious/sacrilegious beer name, is all!

And yes, the artwork from Unibroue is as good as it gets. Beautiful stuff.
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  #26  
Old 01-05-2012, 02:58 PM
teela brown teela brown is online now
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How "cuss-y" is the exclamation "Sacre!"? David Suchet's Poirot is forever saying it.
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  #27  
Old 01-05-2012, 03:32 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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Zut Alors!
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  #28  
Old 01-05-2012, 04:05 PM
mnemosyne mnemosyne is offline
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Originally Posted by teela brown View Post
How "cuss-y" is the exclamation "Sacre!"? David Suchet's Poirot is forever saying it.
It's about on the level of "heck"... it's pretty much saying "swear word!" instead of actually saying a swear word.
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