European French and Quebec French

French is one of the official languages, or rather the official language, of 29 countries around the world. Between seventy-seven and one hundred and ten million people are French native speakers, while around 190 million speak it as a second language. The forecasts for the future of the French language in the world are varied. The international organization of the French-speaking community has published a prediction that says that by 2050 about seven hundred million people will speak French as their first language or as a second language. Of these seven hundred million, 80% will be inhabitants of the African continent where growth is undeniable.

After France, it is the Canadian province of Quebec that has, to date, the largest number of French speakers by birth, and if we add other regions of Canada and the United States, it results that 8% of the American population speaks French fluently . Given the high concentration of French speakers in Quebec, this province plays an important role in French-speaking countries, that is, in that community of countries, organizations, governments and groups of people who speak French daily or in the workplace.

The arrival of French in Canada
In order to understand the differences between French spoken in France and French spoken in Quebec (also called Canadian French or Québec), it is necessary to have an overview of how the French language has landed in Canada . It all started when King Francis I organized an expedition in order to find an alternative route to reach China. But Jacques Cartier did not arrive in China in 1534 but on the Gaspésie peninsula, today part of the province of Quebec. Thus Nouvelle France was founded and settlers began to arrive in North America. Nouvelle France hit its heyday in 1712 when its territory spanned more than half of what is now known as Canada and the United States.

The historical events that occurred later may explain the differences that now exist between European and Québec French . First, a surprise attack in 1754 that led to the wars of the Conquest (War of Conquest, ndt). Add to this the fact that the winters are much more severe in Canada than in France it is understandable that the population of Nouvelle France was much weaker than that of the 13 American colonies and therefore more vulnerable to attacks. Secondly, France and Great Britain were involved in the Seven Years War and this led to the Treaty of Paris (1763) whereby the province of Québec passed under the British regime and therefore cut the bridges with France.

What makes Québec different?
Before focusing on the differences between Metropolitan French and Québec, it is important to stress that as far as writing is concerned, there is no big difference between these two languages. Although there are differences in vocabulary and semantics, Quebecers use standard French grammar . In fact, reading a text it can be difficult to know if it was written by a French or a Québec.

The difference between these two languages ​​applies in spoken language. The major differences are found in pronunciation, in particular in the accentuation of vowels and consonants. Québec French has a more intense timbre , due to a more nasal pronunciation. As a result, some homophonic words in French will be pronounced differently in Québec, such as the words “pâte” and “patte”.

In addition to the pronunciation, the influences of British colonization and the Amerindian languages ​​are felt in Québec, and moreover, some words that developed in France after the break with Québec did not develop in Québec.

List of typical differences between French and Quebecer
The main differences that we find between these two languages ​​are found in the vocabulary and in the sense of the words. Here are some examples:

Quebecchese French English Translation

Achigan Perche noire Black bass Largemouth bass

Brunante Crépuscule Dusk Twilight

[1] Atoca Canneberge Cranberry Cranberry

[2] Carcajou Glouton Wolverine Wolverine

Barrer Verrouiller To lock Lock

Traversier Ferry / bac Ferry (boat) Ferry

There are also words that are used in both languages ​​but have a different meaning. For example, a “dépanneur” is a neighborhood food store in Québec, while in France “a depanneur” is a person who practices the profession of mechanic or electrician.

In some respects, Quebecer has not changed compared to French which has been spoken in the North-West of France for about three hundred years. The verb “magasinier” is still used to indicate that you are going shopping, while in France you will prefer to use the expression “faire du shopping”.

The Quebecchese also has a vocabulary and specific expressions of his country and culture. The expression “Baise-moué l’ail” (vulgar expression which in Italian sounds like “kiss my ass”, ndt ) which in French translates literally as “tie-backs but gousse d’ail” ( “kiss my clove ‘ garlic ”, ndt) is just one example among many. The most logical explanation for this expression is that the word “ail” indicates an area of ​​the body located between the lower back and the upper part of the thighs, and therefore echoes the English expression “kiss my ass”. Unfortunately until today no official explanation has been given for the use of this expression: the similarity between the two words? Their shape? Who knows.


by Abdullah Sam
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