In the middle of a customer service call I was interpreting, I stumbled on the expression my Québécois caller used to express her anger: « Mais vous êtes bien capoté, Monsieur! ». I interpreted on the spot as “Are you crazy?” and then when I heard my American caller say: “What did you say?”… I realized I should probably have come out of my interpreter role to explain that our caller thought he had some nerve… As usual, don’t kill the messenger, people!
In France, the only usage of “la capote” I am familiar with, is the “capote (anglaise)”, a slang word for condom like “rubber” in the US. “Le capot” (again, importance of gender!) is the hood of a car. So it took me a bit abash, to hear this word. Outside of slang, “capoter” just means to fail/ cancel, or for a vehicle, to be turned/ knocked over or overthrown.
So our expression of the day is:
// (Ne) capote pas*! (QC) // C’est pas la peine de flipper! (FR) // Don’t freak out!
// Mais vous êtes bien capoté! (QC) // Mais vous avez du culot! (FR) // You’ve got some nerve!
// Il roule à 200 km/h, mais il est complètement capoté ce gars! (QC) // …, mais il est complètement cinglé/ fou ce mec! (FR) // He is driving 200 km/ h, the guy is completely insane/ crazy!
* In Québec, they want people to calm down and take it easy… A few example expressions: Tords pas tes bas! Capote pas! Brise pas ta chaîne! Garde tes shorts! Grimpe pas dans les rideaux! Mange pas tes bas! Pogne pas les nerfs! Prends ton gaz égal (du calme!)
I wanted to end the week with a fun “Canadian French” expression because last night, I got to attend the “Canadian Culture Night” organized by the Upstate Global Professionals, the business group of the local International Center. It was a lot of fun to meet and hear stories by South Carolinian David Wilkins, former US Ambassador to Canada during the Bush administration; Steve Brereton, Canadian Consul General in Atlanta, GA; Dana Hicks, Honorary Consul for Canada in Charlotte, NC.
We were immersed in Canadian culture for one night, with a hearty Canadian dinner, images of the Canadian outdoors projected on the wall, people proudly wearing the Canadian maple or red & white and meeting people who have either lived in Canada, are from there (including a new Quebecoise friend whom I had so much fun getting to know!) or have traveled there. I personally have only traveled to Vancouver Island in 2000, and to St John, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick in 2008… And I got to experience July 1st in Halifax, which was so much fun! I have yet to make it to Québec or Toronto though. One day, but after listening to Mr. Hicks’ stories, it is mainly the outdoors I want to experience (including the Bay of Fundy!).
Have a great week-end, ey!