Opinion

Patois: the letter A, part 2

Because the St. John Valley was isolated from the rest of North America for so long, the residents gradually evolved their own variation of French based on 15th century France French, Acadian French, Quebec French, English and Malecite words.

The result is a rich and colorful language loaded with imaginative expressions, some of which are very similar to those found in long-ago Acadia, Kamouraska/Témiscouata, and France, some that appear to be translations of common English expressions, and many others that are local and original.

We now continue local patois, dictons and metaphors.

aller a bon trainliterally: go at a good train: At a steady pace

aller au Fort – go to Fort Kent 

aller aux moving/ portraits – go to the movies

aller cri – fetch; go get something

aller donner du foin au coqliterally: go give hay to the rooster: Do farm chores

amanchure – badly dressed

amarré – tied

amarre les avec d’la brocheliterally: bind it with wire: What to say when someone itches

amiolé – tame; lure

antéka – in any case: Anyways

aouère d’la djeulleliterally: have a mouth: Outspoken

aouère d’la grébouille – quarrel

aouère l’aire beuliterally: appear oxen: Stubborn

aouère l’aire puteu – appear sad or pensive

aouère une dent d’su’literally: have a tooth on (a person): hold a grudge

aouère un nerf salutaireliterally: have a solitary nerve: uneasy

a pas frette aux yeuxliterally: her eyes aren’t cold: she’s brash; (Y a pas frette aux yeux = He’s brash)

a pied – on foot; to walk

a p’tite mésure – little by little

a plein mittand – dead center

a premiére abôre – suddenly

après Noël, les journée relonge pas un pas d’coqliterally: after Christmas, the days get longer by a rooster’s step

arracher des naveaux savage / d’la moutarde – literally: pull out wild turnips: Pull weeds by hand

arracher la laine su’l’dos/ les nerfs du nezliterally: pull the wool from the back: Take everything

Letter A, last part, next month.

Don Levesque is a Grand Isle native who worked in community journalism for almost 35 years. He was the publisher and editor of the St. John Valley Times for 15 years prior to retiring in 2010. He wrote a weekly newspaper column, called Mon 5¢, in the Valley Times for more than 20 years. He has been inducted into the Maine Journalism Hall of Fame and the Maine Franco-American Hall of Fame.

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