Heist (aliasheist) wrote in linguaphiles,

French and French-Canadian hockey terms, gendered and aspirational language

This post is originally from little_details, cross-posted here on the advice of rhiannon_black. Thank you immensely for your help in advance!

Prior research: The dreaded Wikipedia, NHL.com, wordreference.com, "french hockey terms", "french-canadian hockey terms", "hockey sur glace," several French textbooks and multiple semesters of collegiate French class. Unfortunately, this is also a usage question and I'm not sure how to Google that, so please please please forgive any egregious or obvious errors on my part.

Here is the situation: I have a character, E, who is writing an essay in her sophomore (or junior year, I honestly haven't decided yet) French class about hockey. She plays right wing on her (American) school's college prep girls hockey team, and she wants to play in the NHL. Her friend in this class, S, a goalie on the boys prep team, hails from the greater Ottawa metropolitan area, and he has a fair bit of Canadian French (though both are native first-language English speakers.)

This is where things get complicated. I am assuming the focus of the class is continental/Parisian French, which is what most American schools seem to teach, so S isn't a total authority on the subject, but he definitely knows enough of the language to mock E and her incorrect usage when he sees it. What I am trying to communicate is that E is writing that she currently plays right wing for her school, but that she is going to be a right winger in the NHL. I know I'll have to play with tenses, and I want to do it in such a way that S pokes fun at her presumption as well as her incorrect grammar/usage. The way I've currently got this framed out is that she's using some form of the futur instead of the conditionnel, but tense alone isn't going to fully convey her meaning, nor the fact that she is honestly unwonderful at the French language.

So how do I do this? This is something of a joking conversation; E and S are definitely 'bros' in modern American parlance and teenagers at that, but E nevertheless takes this idea very seriously and is somewhat superstitious about the power of intention, and she's very firmly saying she's going to be in the NHL instead of that she wants to be. (I am keenly aware of the unlikelihood of this actually happening, as is S; that's kind of the point.)

Keeping in mind that E isn't a French prodigy by any means, is it the 'correct' mistake in this situation for her to say in the essay, "Je serai le mailleur ailier droit (gender here addressed below) dans le LNH!" or would it be more that she says she's going to play in the NHL, "Je jouerai dans le LNH"? This essay is slightly self-serving on E's part, and while her sentences can be technically correct, she needs to be obviously wrong in an intentional way, and at the very least I'm not sure whether using futur proche or futur simple is the more likely mistake here.  I've every intention of S 'correcting' her mistakes to bring the essay back into the realm of possibility/correct usage, but by that point E is frustrated enough to be asking their teacher how to say what she'd rather be doing than writing a stupid essay. "Professeur, comment dit-on 'punch myself in the face?'"

Furthermore, how does E currently refer to herself in writing? I know feminine terms for hockey positions exist, and I know that 'hockeyeur/hockeyeuse' is strictly European whereas 'joueur/euse de hockey' is preferred in francophone Canada, but I'm also aware that in many modern professions (admittedly dependent upon which country you're standing in) gendered language is no longer used because to do so implies a lack of respect. As an example, though I can say, "J'écris des histoires," that carries different weight and implication than saying, "Je suis écrivain," and given my gender the latter also earmarks me as a learner of Parisian French rather than Canadian. So! As a nonprofessional who nevertheless takes hockey more seriously than anything else on the earth, does E describe herself as someone who plays hockey, or as a hockey player? I'm tempted to say she writes "Je suis hockeyeur" or "Je suis ailier droit" in the masculine as a Parisian French class might teach, with S correcting her to 'joueuse de hockey' based on his upbringing, but the wrench in the works here is that their fictional school is located in upstate New York, which is sufficiently close to Canada to perhaps supersede some textbook vocabulary. The quandary here is that I'm perhaps trying to do too much heavy lifting with one conversation: as smug and superior as S gets to be over E's mistakes, he gets taken down a couple notches by the prof for making the faulty assumption that what's correct in Ottawa is likewise right in a continental-French class. This is perhaps an absurd amount of detail, but for the sake of versimilitude and characterization I want to make sure I get it right.

Thanks again for any help. I appreciate it!

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