The Star-Herald

Lettre B (1e partie)

As you probably already know, many years ago, more specifically, until 1967, most St. John Valley students were punished for speaking French on school grounds.

They were told they spoke some sort of bastardization of a language that no one outside the Valley understood. Of course, this was a lie.

So, most of us never learned to read or write French, standard or otherwise. This column is written largely phonetically so that we, the people who were cheated by the legislature in 1918, can read it and share a laugh or two.

babinne basse – literally: low lips; downcast; sad

babinne pendante literally: hanging lip; pout; be ashamed

babinneux – talkative bore

babiche – goatee; long hairs hanging off a goat’s chin

bafouer – tossed around (like a ship on a rough sea)

bagatelle – easily done

bagosse – moonshine

baise ma rais – kiss my a**

baise ma sainte plais – literally: kiss my holy wound; kiss my a**

baise mon tchu – kiss my a**

balancine – porch swing

balancinouére – porch swing

balié l’chaminliterally: sweep the road; decorate the roadside

baloxé – confuse(d)

banc d’néige – snowbank

banc d’toiletteliterally: toilette seat; nasty person

baratte – old car

barbine – mini-van, station wagon, SUV, or other huge vehicle

bardassé – bang and slam things

bargameaux – gum rubbers (one piece, with three eyelets at the top for laces)

bargerie – where sheep are kept

barlan – apple container; game using apples instead of money

barniques – eyeglasses

barouette – small wagon

barreau de Franceliterally: post from France; bossy person, know-it-all

barrer a trenteliterally: locked at thirty; slow person, inhibited

bavassé – scolded

baveu – insolent; 

bazou – old car

bazouelle – misbehaving child (as in, “mon p’tit bazouelle!”)

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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