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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Ça caille!

With the weather really starting to cool down in France, today's French expression is about to become essential for everyday conversation.

French Expression of the Day: Ça caille!
Photo: Depositphotos
Why do I need to know ça caille?
 
As winter sets in, this expression could become a valuable part of your daily vocabulary when you step outside each morning.  
 
What does it mean?
 
Although you might have seen the word la caille meaning ‘the quail’, this expression has nothing to do with birds. 
 
Ça caille! is actually an informal way of saying that it’s freezing cold and it’s more likely to have evolved from the verb cailler, which means ‘to coagulate’ or change from a liquid to a solid, as water does when it freezes. 
 
You can use ça caille! (it’s freezing!) as a stand-alone expression when you’re stepping out into crisp weather, or if you’ve been outside for a while and the cold has started to set in.
 
It can also be incorporated into a sentence, for example, je n’ai pas envie de sortir, ça caille dehors. (I don’t want to go out, it’s freezing outside).
 
You might also hear je me caille, meaning ‘I’m freezing’, which comes from the verb se cailler.
 
Using this verb means that you can conjugate the expression to talk about different people and in different tenses, for example, elle n’a pas de manteau, elle va se cailler (She doesn’t have a coat, she’s going to freeze).
 
Although it’s frequently used in spoken French, the verb se cailler could be considered a bit vulgar  – a translation of on se les caille ici! comes up as ‘we’re freezing our balls off here!’ 
 
And the common expression se cailler le miches translates as 'to freeze your arse off.' as
 
Take care when pronouncing ça caille as a lot of the letters are silent. Ça is said with a soft 'c' that sounds like an 's', and caille is said with a hard 'c' that sounds like a 'k' with that rest of the letters making a single syllable that sounds a bit like a 'y'. Check out 0:03 of this video for an example.
 
Alternatives
 
If you need a politer way to say how cold it is, try Il fait bien froid (it is very cold) instead.
 
How do I use it?
 
Ça caille aujourd'hui! – It’s freezing today!
 
Il n'aime pas du tout se cailler. – He doesn’t like getting cold at all.
 
(The above examples come from wordreference.com)
 
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FRENCH WORD OF THE DAY

French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

This is definitely not lip synching.

French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

Why do I need to know Chanter faux ?

Because if you were not blessed with a beautiful singing voice, then this might be a good phrase to know. 

What does it mean?

Chanter faux – pronounced shahn-tay foe – literally means to ‘fake sing.’ You might assume this expression would mean ‘lip sync’ in French, but its true meaning is to sing out of tune. (Lip synching is chanter en playback).

It joins a chorus of other French expressions about bad singing, like chanter comme une casserole (to sing like a saucepan) or chanter comme une seringue (to sing like a siren).  

Chanter faux is actually the most correct way to describe someone being off key, so it might be a better option than comparing another’s voice to a cooking utensil. 

You might have seen this expression pop up recently amid the drought, as people call for rain dances and rain singing (where there is no shame in singing badly).

Use it like this

Pendant l’audition pour la pièce, Sarah a chanté faux. Malheureusement, elle n’a pas obtenu le rôle. – During her audition for the play, Sarah sang out of tune. Sadly, she did not get a role.

Si on fait un karaoké, tu verras comme je chante mal. Je chante vraiment faux, mais je m’en fiche. Il s’agit de s’amuser. – If we do karaoke you will see how badly I sing. I am really out of tune, but I don’t care. It’s all about having fun.

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