Word on the Street

The Word on the Street Is . . . Me, I

Whoa be it to any English teacher who, fresh off the boat, seeks to remove this diamond in the rough from the mouths of down-home Montrealers. “Me, I” (a literal translation of “moi, je”) is a classic gem that you won’t find anywhere else in continental America. (And if that isn’t reason enough to encourage [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . Fire

While sauntering past a Montreal bar, you may be approached by a tall, dark stranger who asks “Do you have fire?” This is not a Homo erectus come on, nor is it time to jabber on about your fiery tango classes. They couldn’t care less about what makes you burn with passion. So what, exactly, [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . Après-ski

With the snowy season upon us, it’s time to wax your skis and see if you can still squeeze into your snowsuit after all those Christmas cookies. Let’s be honest here, half the motivation for skidding down the slopes is the après-ski, especially if you’re like me and it’s been 20 years since you tossed [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . Stage

Stage may look English but it’s not. Well, not exactly. Or is it? As English usage grows around the globe, what’s considered English is up for debate, and Montreal English is no exception. In Ontario, the word stage is what you stand on in a theatre and what you do with your house when you [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . Friperie

It’s all the trend among Montreal Anglos, mainly of the female persuasion, to use the term friperie (or frip store for short) instead of thrift store, second-hand store, or Sally Ann. Perhaps the inclination is due to the more archaic use of the English term frippery, which according to Merriam-Webster’s means “an elegant or showy garment.” Or perhaps it’s simply due to that fact that thrift [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . Branché

If a Montrealer calls you branché, don’t panic. It doesn’t mean that you look like a tree. Branché, albeit an adjective, is about as a close a translation as you can get for hipster. This tree-like term is generally used to refer to a cool cat donning thick-framed glasses, an eagle feather fedora or a [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . Tempo

It’s that magical time of year when Tempos start popping up all over town. For most Montrealers, Tempo has nothing to do with speed or music; its origins lie in the idea of temporary, for a Tempo is just another “brand name-gone-common noun” that designates a temporary car port. Most times, they’re used by people who stuff [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . Garburator

Even though “90 percent of [Canadians] live close to the US/Canada border,” it’s nice to know that we still have expressions that set us apart from our neighbours to the south, and I’m not just talking about “eh.” Which, by the way, I try to suppress in order to blend, but every once in a [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . Resto

If you’ve ever received a message like “meet me at the resto” and didn’t bat an eye, then congratulations! You’re a dyed-in-the-wool Montreal Anglo. For the rest of you, you can probably guess that it’s short for restaurant, and not rest stop, restroom, or leftovers (from the French les restes). Then there’s the resto-bar, which [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . Coordinates

It’s a funny feeling when a word that might have struck me as peculiar before moving to Montreal starts to feel completely natural. Take coordinates. Where I grew up, we had a class called Orienteering. Basically, the teacher would shove us onto a school bus, drive us deep into the woods, and drop us off [...]

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