The Word on the Street Is . . . Receive

Word on the Street Montreal Translation SyllabusWhile 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 gentleman in an overly ornate drawing room kissing the gloved hands of ladies in long gowns as they sashay into the room. At my humble three and a half, I simply “have folks over” for drinks—there’s not much room for formal nineteenth-century-style “receiving.”

In French, however, it’s perfectly normal to “recevoir ses amis”—ain’t nothing haughty about it. In Montreal fringlish, “receiving friends” is as widespread as “opening your computer” and “closing the lights.”

Unlike English, French takes little stock in phrasal verbs, so when English and French collide on the streets of Montreal—you tend to get a formal verb in an informal setting. The result is often odd and absurd, but sometimes magical. And as speakers of this unique dialect, you get to decide how far you want to run with it.

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