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I was listening to Coffee Break French audio, season 4 episode 18. Near the beginning, the commentator says he has only a few days left until his holidays start. There is some phrase used like "je jis moins jours" or "j'ai J moins jours" (something like that). I would love to know what he is saying

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He says C'est J moins 2, literally "it's D minus two" (only two days left before the vacations).

When English says 'the D-Day', we say le jour J1.

Note that jour J is not restricted to a military context. That might be any day when something special is going to happen, happens, or happened, like 'the big day'. We also use the similar heure H.

Voyons, réfléchissez... Vous m'avez bien dit que A a été tué par B à l'heure H du jour J en un point P ? Eh bien, mon chèque dit : payez à l'ordre de X la somme de Y millions, signé Z ! CQFD.

Pierre Dac, Signé Furax, La lumière qui éteint, 1958.

1 But while en English, D-Day was generic military jargon that was popularized after the 1944 Normandy landing and kept that single mainstream meaning for most native speakers, French can use le jour J for any event in whatever context. We might also use D-Day to refer to the same date although the usual term is le Débarquement.

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  • Wow, weird. It seems that this is used for more than the actual D-Day landing on Normandy, then?
    – Luke Sawczak
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 18:02
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    @LukeSawczak Yes, jour J is not restricted to a military context, that might be any day when something special is going to happen, happens, or happened, like the big day. We also use the similar heure H.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Oct 17, 2023 at 18:20
  • Note that in English, we’d be more likely to say, “T minus 2”, using an aeronautical analogy (T = takeoff) instead of a military one. Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 10:05
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    @LukeSawczak In France, “jour J” is not at all associated with 6 June 1944. The expression has been around (both in English and in French) at least since WWI. In English, it entered everyday language very quickly to refer to that specific event. In French, it's more recent and means the day an important event happens, like “big day” in English. To refer to the military operation that started on 6 June 1944 in France, you'd say “le Débarquement”, or “le Débarquement [allié] [de 1944] [en Normandie]” if you need to be more precise. For the specific day, you could say “le jour du Débarquement”. Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 11:18
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    That's very interesting. Whereas Google "D-Day" and you'll see it's all Normandy. So I think jlliagre's note that "when English says 'the D-Day', we say le jour J" should be clarified. I've actually never heard the generic meaning used in English because of the dominance of June 6, 1944. (But I do see that it's listed on Wiktionary.)
    – Luke Sawczak
    Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 12:23

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