French Glossary 2

Click to hear these words and phrases pronounced by a French-Canadian speaker, John Langlais. He says that some words may sound “slangy” compared to Parisian French, but he pronounces them more as the voyageurs would have said the words. In a few places, he’s added an article le or un and made spelling changes and other corrections.

Adieu – Farewell. (when people will not meet again, as at death)

Allez! – Go!

Allons! – Let’s go! (person giving command is leading)

Au revoir – Goodbye (literally “Until I see you again.”)

Avant – Primary steersman in the bow of the canoe

Beaucoup – Very much, as in “Thank you very much.”

Bon-à-rien – Good for nothing

Bourgeois – Owner of the fur trade company, a high-ranking company officer or gentleman trader from the upper class, the boss

Capot – Woolen coat, made from a heavy blanket

Capot – Alternate pronunciation

Crèche – Cradle or stable scene of Jesus, Mary and Joseph

Décharge – Process of guiding a canoe over a rapids too dangerous for a loaded canoe (which may be fully or partially loaded or unloaded, due to danger or water depth)

Engagé – Voyageur, person engaged to paddle and portage in the fur trade

Gouvernail – Steersman, second in command a canoe, steers from the stern or back

Je suis un voyageur – I am a voyageur. (spoken with great pride)

L’Enfant Jesus – The infant Jesus

un Livre – Money. On the voyageur’s contract, wages were listed in livres.

Aidez-moi! – Help me! (John Langlais feels that Aidez-moi is more correct than M’aidez.)

Marchons! – Let’s go! March! (implies hard work or struggle)

Merci – Thank you.

Merci beaucoup – Thank you very much.

Mon dieu! – My God!

Milieu, milieux – Middleman, middlemen; paddlers in the middle of the canoe

Non – No

Nous sommes voyageurs – We are voyageurs (spoken with great pride).

Oui – Yes

Pas! – Not! (very dismissive)

le Rendezvous – Annual meeting of bourgeois of the fur trade, including voyageurs from Montreal and winterers from inland fur posts

Rubbaboo – Stew made from dried corn and pemmican, a staple in voyageurs’ diets

un Sault – Waterfall

un Sou, sous – Money, a very small coin, a penny

Tourtière – Spiced pork meat pie eaten in French Canada or the pan it is baked in

un Tuque – Tight-fitting knitted cap worn by voyageurs

Un, deux, trois – One, two three

la Vielle – The old woman, a poetic description of the changeable Lake Superior

Voila! – Aha! Oh look!

un Voyageur – Canoe-man transporting trade goods along fur trade routes, an engagé

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