One very awkward englishman, boldly goes…

Marseille Language and Phrases

So, you can speak French? Now speak like a local by learning the following Marseille words and phrases. I will keep adding to this list when I come in contact with more phrases.

Tips on pronunciation…

-Try to be as forceful as possible

-Try to pronounce these things as loud as possible with maximum conviction

-Try to gesture with your hands. (I find a a outwards slap gesture in mid-air is particularly affective)

-Try to add an ayy! or an aghh? at the end, even if the sentence doesn’t appear to require it

* C’est ça oui!  (roughly translated as “yeah right” or “whatever” or “Yeah, and so”

* Putang! (Putain with a Marseille twist- very vulgar, but seemingly used a lot in any conversion on any subject!)

* Cafouch (A cupboard or small storage room with a door)

* C’est Bon ça! / C’est cool ça! (That’s good that! / That’s cool that!)

* Ta Mère! (“your mum!” Not just used in Marseille, but again an insult used in various situation with varying levels of intent here)

* “tè!” (pronounced more or less “‘ta” (like in “cat”) which is the provençal word for the french “tiens!”

* “vé!” (pronounced more or less “vay”) which means “look”. You may even have heard the two words together “tè, vé!”.

– Many thanks again to Corinne for the last two suggestions!

*il faut se sortir les doigts du cul! (this literally means “take your fingers out of your ass”. Possibly used in driving situations, and not during a meal with the mother-in-law!) Many thanks to Sydney for this suggestion. The meaning of this generally means if your fingers are inserted in this region you can’t do any other task correctly. Many thanks to Corinne for the correction.

8 responses

  1. corinne

    Hello Englishman,
    Very good analysis of the Marseillais language, only I think you didn’t catch the meaning of the last phrase : il faut se sortir les doigts du cul which means Take your fingers out of YOUR ass (because of course if you have your fingers in this place you can’t do things correctly)
    corinne

    March 4, 2012 at 9:24 am

  2. Many thanks Corinne. I have now corrected. Sorry about that. Are there any other expressions I can add to this?

    All the best,

    T

    March 4, 2012 at 10:35 am

  3. corinne

    Of course there are dozens or even BILLIONS (to be true to the marseillaise reputation of exagerating everything) of expressions you could add!!
    You surely must have heard the word “tè!” (pronounced more or less “‘ta” (like in “cat”) which is the provençal word for the french “tiens!” and the word “vé!” (pronounced more or less “vay”) which means “look”. You may even have heard the two words together “tè, vé!”.

    March 4, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    • Brilliant! I have heard these, but I didn’t realise that was provençal. I will add this in tomorrow if you don’t mind.

      Many thanks again!

      T

      March 4, 2012 at 9:21 pm

  4. If you want some more, there’s a comic called “Comme on parle chez nous”, a rather funnier way to learn than buying a dictionnary 😉
    Nice blog by the way.

    March 12, 2012 at 2:51 pm

  5. This is fantastic. I definitely heard people use ‘putang’ a lot when we were there, which always made me secretly laugh. Definitely an all-purpose word!

    -Jessie

    April 21, 2012 at 4:28 pm

  6. It is defo used a lot more generally here, and seems less offensive! I just laugh at how it is pronounced down here with the southern accent. A lot of words seem to end in …ang! When my girlfriend was growing up and started talking she first started pronouncing maman as mamang!

    April 21, 2012 at 4:37 pm

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