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11 Phrases You Need to Understand Parisians

Paris Languages
by Kathy Saunders Nov 30, 2015

1. Putaaaaaaiiiin

Technically putain means prostitute, but it also serves as a handy exclamation of rage, frustration, disgust, joy, surprise, excitement and more rage. “Putain, ça pue !” is particularly useful to know when around unpleasant odors, which brings us to…

2. Ça schlingue!

To schlinguer is to stink. So, if you want to really emphasize the malodorousness of your surrounding environment (and you probably will at some point), let rip with a “Putaaaaain, ça schlingue !” especially if somebody has already let rip.

3. Non, mais, c’est pas possible !

Some places are known for having a “Yes” culture, but Paris is not one of them. Whether you’re at the bank, in a café, or anywhere else you might expect some kind of helpful service client when you really need it, you’re more likely to hear “Non, mais, ce n’est pas possible !” than a friendly “Oui, sans probleme.” Don’t lose hope, however, just keep asking politely but firmly until you get what you want, or are at least given a reasonable explanation as to why it isn’t possible (if that genuinely is the case).

4. Crever la dalle

Not uniquely Parisian, but oft overheard in the capital, when “Tu crèves la dalle”, you’re starving, and you’ll either punch someone or faint if you don’t get something to eat soon.

5. Fait chier !

When something is really annoying, it makes you shit. This particular gem can be used for almost any irritating occurrence, whether you’ve dropped your groceries – “ça me fait chier !”, tripped over a cobblestone – “putain, fait chier !”, or arrived in front of a McDonald’s at 1.50 am only to find it closed ten minutes earlier than scheduled – “fait chier, je crève la dalle !”. It can also be put to good use in the spatial awareness vacuum that is the metro.

6. Grave

Agreeing with something can be easily expressed with a carefully placed “grave” after the other person has finished speaking, whether you’re agreeing enthusiastically, in an eyeroll-y kind of way, or aren’t really listening at all.

7. J’hallucine !

Literally “I’m hallucinating!”, this phrase is perfect for creating an over-exaggerated sense of ridiculousness. Technically it’s just a way of expressing surprise, but is often used to turn various molehills into mountains, such as “J’hallucine ! Il n’a même pas repondu à mon texto !

8. Rouler une pelle

When you’re kissing with tongues, you roule une pelle. “Rouler” means to roll, and “une pelle” is a shovel, an uncomfortable metaphor for a tongue. It sounds gross, but makes a surprising amount of sense when you think about it.

9. Meuf

A very informal word for woman that will cause offence when used haphazardly among elderly relatives or professional superiors. Grannies, bosses, or anyone you usually feel the need to vouvoyer are not meufs.

10. J’arrive

Running late? Nobody needs know, especially if they’re waiting for you. When asked about your whereabouts, answer with a quick “J’arrive !” to let them know you’re on your way. Literally, it means “I’m arriving!”, but anyone who says it, especially if they’re on the metro, definitely isn’t.

11. Non, mais, what the fuck quoi !

If you ever find yourself in a Parisian office environment, you’ll notice adding anglicisms to French sentences tends to happen ALL THE TIME. It’s weird, but a super helpful tactic when you’ve forgotten the French word for something. “What the fuck quoi !” is a particular favorite, as is “Bullshit !”, “C’est hype !” and “Je suis dans le rush, j’arrive !

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