Word on the Street

The Word on the Street Is . . . Welcome

Yesterday a waitress gave me a heartfelt “welcome” when I thanked her for the plentiful portion of cracked-pepper poutine that she placed before me. She wasn’t the first Quebecer I’ve heard drop the standard “you’re” that most anglophones are accustomed to expect. And I’ve come to the conclusion that’s it’s another classic Montreal‑ism—derived from a [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . “Live”

“On se voit au parc live,” my daughter squeals into the phone. I smirk and shake my head as I put down the phone. I’ve been living in Montreal for over 20 years and it still takes me by surprise to hear English words—with English pronunciation nonetheless—thrown into French sentences. “Live” (rhymes with “hive”) used [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . “Actually”

It looks English. It sounds English. But don’t be fooled, on the streets of Montreal, “actually” is not an English word, at least not all the time. In a city where French and English are swapped like hockey cards, “actually” is a term that can have a surprising meaning, especially if you’re an out-of-towner who’s [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . “Crudités”

Last week I was hosting a dinner party with a bunch of my West Coast friends. For an app, I set out a scrumptious plate of fresh-cut carrots, celery, broccoli, and peppers. As I placed the tray on the dining room table, I said with flair, “Crudités, anyone?” The group of anglos looked at me [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . “Metro”

Montreal is famous for its underground city. Buried beneath the skyscrapers and busy streets is an endless trail of shopping malls—and the metro. Yes, the metro. That’s what we anglos call the subway system in Montreal. We use the French word métro—we just don’t pronounce the accent. Parisians might be the only ones who have [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . “Beurre de Peanut”

As an anglo from BC, I moved to Montreal with the best of intensions—putting my schoolgirl French to the test, immersing myself in the culture of the city, and most of all, learning the street lingo—the French that true Montrealers speak. After countless university courses, crappy jobs, and one or two summer flings with Quebecers, [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . Spa

The other day I overheard my daughter telling her grandmother about her friend’s spa. My mom listened on in disbelief. It wouldn’t be the first time my kids stretched the truth, especially when it comes to their friends’ possessions. Little did my mom know, her granddaughter wasn’t telling a fib, she was simply using the [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . BS

If you’re visiting Montreal, be wary of the acronym BS—it may not be what you think it is. In the rest of the English-speaking world, BS refers to cow paddies lying in a field. Once you cross the border into Quebec, those two letters take on a whole new meaning. On the island of Montreal [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . Kit

When I first moved to Montreal, one of my ESL students came up to me and said, “Check mon nouveau kit,”* stretching her arms out wide as if to say “Ta da!” She was clearly referring to her amazing all‑pink ensemble—a pink T-shirt under a pink hoodie with a matching set of pink stud earrings. [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . Receive

While chatting with my neighbour about our respective plans for the weekend, he said he was “receiving some friends” to watch the hockey game. I smiled and nodded, but all I could picture were rowdy men stuffed into cardboard boxes delivered by a UPS agent. When I think of “receiving guests,” I picture a white-gloved [...]

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