How to sound French: March 2016 edition

This winter, the expression on everyone’s lips seems to be pas mal.  We learn this in college as meaning not bad.  However, colloquially it can also mean something like a lot.  In fact, I’ve been hearing it quite a bit even from a friend who prefers the 17th-century language of Molière to the language of today and doesn’t speak very colloquially at all.  You can find good examples of how to use pas mal in this sense on Laura Lawless’s Lawless French web site.  Here are some more:

Screenshot 2016-03-26 01.47.21
“I saw Manon this morning and we talked a lot it’s cool” Picture source: Twitter screen shot.

If you use pas mal to modify nouns, it’s a quantity term, and is followed by de:

Screenshot 2016-03-26 01.50.15
“I think that we have a lot of things in common” Picture source: Twitter screen shot.

Be aware that even the expression as we learn it in school–that is, with the meaning not bad–can be difficult to understand, with the intended meaning being conveyed in part by intonation.  There’s a very nice video on the intonational subtleties of the expression here, on the Français avec Pierre YouTube channel.

6 thoughts on “How to sound French: March 2016 edition”

  1. No, don’t confuse me any more. I have had to COMPLETELY unlearn all my school French and pronunciation- it seems to bear no relation to the love language .
    ZIp, can you please ask your French colleagues if “chiquenaude” has any rude or offensive connotations please? I get a different answer everywhere

    Liked by 1 person

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