Wednesday evening, we all had a beautiful dinner of wood-fired pizza outside on Rue Ste. Catherine, a very lively street in the middle of what people call the Village.
Everywhere we go, people seem to take to our group, finding us either bizarre or comical, especially because of our high energy and loud French conversation with overtones of American English. At every turn we do not hesitate to talk to people or ask questions, since a large part of the trip is to help us to understand our surroundings, both culturally and linguistically.
Speaking of the language:
An interesting thing about the French in Quebec is that when new words are added to the lexicon, they are usually calques of English words. A calque is a literal translation of a word. Here are some examples:
Watermelon – melon d’eau (melon of water)
cell phone- telephone cellulaire
You’re welcome (after someone says thank you)- bienvenue (welcome)
a place- une place
Quebec French is also a very productive language. They will take a verb in English such as watch, and add an –er to the end to signify the infinitive and voila! you’ve got watcher (pronounced wachay)!
After the meal, we were all going to a music session at a pub in the Centre-ville , since I really wanted to connect with a couple of musicians. Renee, Neelie and Alison were going to meet me there. In the end, altogether too tired to venture out after an exhausting day, they decided to stay in and play one of the French word games that Neelie had bought that day.
I decided on the other hand to continue on with the evening.
I walked into the pub and went to the bar to order a drink. As I am talking to the bar tender ( in English, being the English part of Montreal), I feel a tap on my shoulder. I turn around to see a woman I had met in Paris three years ago when I taught flute at the Irish Association in Paris. She had been living in Montreal for three years. What a small world! She brought me over and introduced me to the other musicians. It was a great session and the best part is that I met a man that is doing his doctorate in ethnomusicology on a certain kind of dance tune in the Quebecois tradition. He apparently is also a very prolific composer of Quebecois tunes. WE talked and played music until later than I really had planned. By midnight, it was time to go, since I was to get up at 6 the next morning so we could get to the airport to pick up our car that would take us to Quebec City.
How would I get back? I wondered. Oh yes! I would take the Bixi. Earlier that day I had tried out the relatively new rental bike system that Montreal put in place to make the city a greener place. It’s incredible! There are bike stations all over the city and it’s automatic. You insert a credit card and away you go. You get a code that allows you to unlock a bike. IF the bike is back to another station –any station in the city- in 30 minutes or less, it’s free. If not, you are charged. There is also a $5.00 fee for 24 hour unlimited access, which is really nice. Montreal is amazing by bike and has loads of bike lanes separated from the cars by cement barriers. IN any case, it was a full day and mighty difficult getting up at 6! Luckily there was a café open at 7:00 to get a stiff espresso…