Dépannage linguistique

Comment dit-on “deli” en français? Good question, but no good answer… just yet.


By Steve and Sara Emry [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

Une épicerie is not your average deli (open 24/7 and right around the corner), especially when it is fine, which many are these days. No better asset indeed, in the face of cheap and ugly supermarchés, than finesseet des produits qui ont une âme. Guy Martin may be the only three-Michelin star chef dreaming of une vie de cochon du Sud-Ouest; he is, right now, living the life of a gastronome. Listen to his hands, they say it all about his passion for the finest of food.

Before your tour de France des meilleurs produits, back to our question: “deli” in French? L’Arabe du coin has a good deal in common with the deli guy on the corner, true, but that’s just not a great thing to say — or ask for.

Need more convincing? Here is how Monsieur Ibrahim, le vieil épicier turc de la rue Bleue, in the Paris of the ’60s, puts it to the young and puzzled Moïse. “Arabe, Momo, ça veut dire ‘ouvert de huit heures du matin jusqu’à minuit, et même le dimanche’ dans l’épicerie.” His smile will do the rest, but promise you’ll read the novel before you see the movie.

OK, time for a recap: épicerie is too delicate, l’Arabe du coin, not enough. So no French “deli”? French French, no, Canadian French, oui — and nos amis québécois nailed it.


By Minm (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

En panne de sucre in the middle of baking? Now you know where to go. Dépanneur comes from dépanner, to help out of difficulty. And life will get easier, because our friends didn’t stop at food, they took dépannage to the next level. If unsure about grammar, or spelling, or vocabulary, or punctuation, or pronunciation, or… — yes, the list gets longer — la Banque de dépannage linguistique is there to help. And we’re not talking deli here, la BLD is the épicerie fine for language freaks. If you’re one of them, give it a try. Rarely have I found clearer and fuller answers to my questions. Chapeau bas les Québécois!

— Claire

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