French Canadians have worked very hard at their language.

In the fifties, there was a moment when many felt it was on the verge of disappearing. This was the greatest encouragement to the separatist movement that has been propelled into the government of Quebec, and called the National Assembly, as well as the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa.

There is a 'joke' about 'Jouale'--I think that's the spelling--the language spoken by the pur laine ("pure wool", or real Quebecois):thatitisonebiglongword, for anglophones--native English speakers--it is hard to understand.

I personally find that the French spoken by Haitians to be much more clear, even more so than, so-called, Parisian French.

There is almost a class structure associated with the speaking of the language, with Parisian French at the top--not that it is restricted to French.

In England for a long time, the accent, or dialect that you spoke determined what you were, what you could do, where you could go. This is the basis for George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion, and the musical based upon it My Fair Lady.

This will in all likelihood get nuked, but I just can't help myself.

Cyt's w/u on the nature of the french language in Quebec is not only offensive and smacks of elitism, but is also wrong. Yes, the french spoken in Quebec is reminiscent of that spoken in France in the 17th century, but that most definitely is not the case for the written french. I defy any French citizen to read a Quebec newspaper (preferably La Presse rather than one of the tabloids) and identify significant departures from the language as it is used in France.

When the French complain about the status of the language in Quebec, they are complaining about the accent and the use of colloquial terms. The grammar is the same. The words are the same (more or less). The ebb and flow of communication is the same. They complain because they find it difficult to follow the Quebecois when they speak amongst themselves. This is akin (one might be so bold as to say identical) to the English complaining about the accents of the Irish and Scottish, New Yorkers complaining about the accents of Floridians, Spaniards complaining about the accents of Mexicans etc. The essential problem with the attitude that there is something wrong/broken with the spoken language of an ethnic/regional/cultural group is that it discounts the flavour and depth such groups add to the language. I believe that in the absence of regional character, language dies for it cannot evolve.

In summary, I would like to say in my heaviest Quebecois accent: "Toiye, mon tabarnac, viens-toiye icit pour que je puisse te creuver la yeule!"


Personal background: I am a recent adoptee to the Quebecois family, having moved here from Ontario. I spoke french with a Parisian accent and style prior to moving here, but have adopted the Quebecois style of communication. My co-workers (all francophones) are or multiple nationalities, and my impressions concerning the French are based on my discussions (at length) with the two French students in our lab. So, this is not entirely without foundation...
This is probably not necessary, but as a Quebecoise I kind of wanted to give an example of the moment I discovered that I actually *didn't* speak French very well.

After nineteen years of living in grand old Quebec, I moved to Toronto a couple of years ago. My first job was at a French (France-French) bakery. On my first day, my new boss asked me to come to work wearing "des baskets". I had to ask a knowledgeable friend to decode for me. "Baskets" meant running shoes. There were more of these crazy, English-influenced terms that I didn't understand.

In Quebec, running shoes are "des espadrilles", "le week-end" is "la fin de semaine", and so on. We'd be apalled if someone referred to braking at a red light as "stopper".

French Canadians might very well speak their own language, but it seems to be differentiated from France-French because Quebec refuses to adopt the multitude of English words that France has incorporated.

If you go out into the boonies of Quebec, you'll even find roadside restaurants advertising "chien-chauds" and "hambourgeois".

Please be aware that this is not an attempt to malign the language of Québec in any way.

In a way, one might be able to say that the language of Québec isn't French, from a historical point of view. The country of France is so called because it is the result of of the centralization policies of the kings of France. In the Middle Ages, France referred to the Ile-de-France, the region immediately surrounding Paris. The other parts of what is now France spoke their own dialects, similar to, but different from, the dialect of Paris. The concept of a national "French" language did not yet exist. (The official language of the kingdom of France was Latin until the reign of François I.) For example, the language that was imposed on England in 1066 by William the Conqueror was not Francien (the "French" of the Paris region) but Normand (the "French" of Normandy). This is why the English words we label as borrowed from French are not identical to the French words themselves: carpenter v. charpentier, mercer v. mercier, for example. The dialect of the Parisian basin did not truly become seen as the national language until the Revolution, when the need for such a language was first identified.

Now, most immigrants to New France came from from Normandy, the Maine, and Anjou, in the case of the Québécois, and from Saintonge and Poitou in the case of the Acadians, between the early 17th century and the middle 18th century. Their speech was different from the speech of the Parisian region, which had not yet been defined as "French." The standardization of French in France took place after the Québécois left the Mother Country. Therefore, the modern language we call standard French is descended from one medieval dialect, and the modern language we call Canadian French is descended from another.

Furthermore, the "French" that we are familiar with today is based mainly on the idioms of the aristocracy and the academics. If you read Molière, you'll see that the dialects he uses to represent peasants, particularly those from the provinces, speak very much like French-Canadians.

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