Ça m’énerve, ces bouchons !
sah may-NAIRV, say boo-SHAW! Click below to hear this pronounced!
These traffic jams drive me crazy!
Or, as translated more directly, That drives me crazy, these traffic jams! It’s common, in French, to invert your sentence so that the expression with a pronoun and a verb in it comes first, and then the word that explains the pronoun.
So ça is a pronoun, about as general a one as you can find. It means that, when there is no indication of what you are referring to. That’s why ça is invariable: no masculine or feminine, no singular or plural. Just ça.
What’s really happening is that you are answering a question that hasn’t been asked. Ça m’énerve ! –Quoi ? (What does?) —Ces bouchons !
Énerver means to drive (someone) crazy, or to unnerve. The é- at the beginning of the word often comes from the Latin prefix ex-, which means out, off, un, and a variety of other words that mean not-something.
As for the bouchons… The word really means cork, as in a bottle. That’s certainly an accurate metaphor for a traffic jam! Another word is un embouteillage (uh nah-boo-tay-YAHZH), which means a bottleneck (and that, of course, is the narrowest part of the bottle…). Which word would you rather say? Two syllables or four?
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