Canadian French

Ben   Friday, April 16, 2004, 13:34 GMT
It seems to me that English MUST have some influence on Quebec French. I mean, French Canadians (at least in the cities) are noticeably able to pronounce English significantly better than their European counterparts. It just seems that kind of increased exposure to a foreign language would have some effect.
Simon   Friday, April 16, 2004, 13:59 GMT
But it makes me think of why the Celtic languages have had little impact on English. Apparently, the "existence" (in the boradest sense) of the people who spoke the Germanic dialects that became English was not different enough to those on Great Britain to make it neccessary to borrow. Loanwords were borrowed for new things, like the laws or luxuries the Normans introduced and Roman/Church things (from Latin). The same kind of flora and fauna that exist on the NW European mainland exists on Great Britain and Ireland.

Maybe this is part of the answer regarding French and English in Canada.
nic   Friday, April 16, 2004, 14:20 GMT
Do not forget many french native speakers came from Swiss.
Lavoisel   Friday, April 16, 2004, 16:42 GMT

I agree, an increased exposure to a foreign language necessarily has some effects. However, Canadian French sounds are blatently different from Canadian English sounds. Plus, the urban Canadian French accents sounds much more like the Parisian French accent than their numerous rural counterparts. I think the good pronounciation of English is mainly due to the countless chances they have to practise the language.
Clark   Saturday, April 17, 2004, 18:54 GMT
I was just wondering about the "F" word in French. I know the verb, but how would I say, "F***!" Or, in context, "F***, I dropped the pint glass!"

Is this word different in Québec and in France?
Lavoisel   Saturday, April 17, 2004, 21:05 GMT

here are some equivalents in different contexts:

very often the equivalent is "putain" (which originally meant "whore" before it became a very common swearing).

Fuck, I dropped the glass! => Putain, j'ai fait tombé le verre !
Where the fuck are you? => Putain, t'es où ?
Where is that fucking building again? => Il est où ce putain d'immeuble déjà ?
Fucking hell, it's him again! => Putain, encore lui !
He fucking did it!! => Putain, il a réussi !!

And I also hear more and more:

"Il est putain de chiant" which means more or less "he's fucking boring".

But, in some cases "merde" can also be used...

Oh, fuck! => Oh, merde !
Where is that fucking building again? => Il est où cet immeuble de merde déjà ?

"Fuck" as a verb has different equivalents. "niquer", "baiser", are the most frequently used.

That's about all about French French "f" word.

In Canadian French, "tabernacle" is, I believe, the most used equivalent for "fuck" as a swearing.
Clark   Sunday, April 18, 2004, 11:26 GMT
Thanks Lavoisel. Ah putain, c'est tard ! Je vais me coucher ! :-)
Lavoisel   Monday, April 19, 2004, 06:57 GMT
Je vois que t'as tout compris. Bravo. ;-)
Lavoisel   Monday, April 19, 2004, 11:04 GMT
I made a grammar mistake: "J'ai fait tombé" should be "J'ai fait tomber".
Paul   Monday, April 19, 2004, 16:05 GMT
French Canadian Swearing on Religious Artifacts is almost incomprehensible to the ordinary secular English speaking Canadian. Still we get along. Unfamiliarity breeds a sort of esteem. Even more there is an ill-considered yet long-time developed vague affection.

Regards, Paul V.
Paul V.   Monday, April 19, 2004, 16:07 GMT
It is time to break out of your cultural melleux. Learn a little french.
Clark   Tuesday, April 20, 2004, 23:25 GMT
I was just thinking about a friend of mine who came from Louisiana. When I met her, the only reason I knew she was from Louisiana was because she told me. Since I have a deep interest in language, I asked her why she did not have an accent. She told me her mother was an English teacher and she just grew up speaking with a 'neutral' accent.

So, are there any French Canadians who just grew up speaking a more neutral French, one that people from France could very easily understand?
Daniel   Thursday, April 22, 2004, 08:13 GMT
From Montreal:

I can provide a few answers. First the "rolled R": in France this has disappeared a couple hundred years ago, or less (it was, before that, the standard pronounciation). Quebec started following this example some time during the 20th Century, and I suppose some regions have been slower in getting rid of the old way of pronouncing R's, most notably Montreal, where older people still "roll" their R's. It is bound to disappear entirely. I cannot see how this could have arisen by influence of English. It was, after all, a common feature of standard French no more than 200 years ago.

However pronounciation of certain vowels in specific phonetical contexts tend to differ from standard French I think by influence of English, as with I, which is closer to "é" (="ay") than "i" (= short "ee") in short words with T or P stops, much like the I in English "pit", "fit", "pip", etc.

Compare "vider" (="veeday" both in Canadian and Standard French), and "vite" (="vit", but "veet" in Standard French) or "pipe" (="pip", Standard French "peep") or "mythe" (="mit", but "meet" in Standard French). "Mythologie" will however be pronounced with the standard I (short "ee"), because there's another vowel after the T.

Different vowels in different phonetical context. In monosyllabic words ending with voiced consonants, I tends to be closer to E and A (relatively) closer to O.

A is much closer to O in quite a few words, just like English, whereas the French A is generally much more open. Another influence of English I think, besides the numerous borrowings.

There is no strict rule in the pronounciation of vowels, or perhaps should I say no rule by which to figure it out, because every exception is in fact the rule... But it is mostly determined by phonetical context, as I call it, sometimes by history: long vowels, which do not survive in Standard French, are still extant in Canadian French, e.g. "lâcher" (long a), "paraître" (trailing "ai" sound). Notice the circumflex accent. This almost always indicates a longer vowel in Canadian French, and I believe this was so also in older French.

Andrew   Thursday, April 22, 2004, 17:59 GMT
Je suis un Savoiard! Well, part Savoyard, anyway; my dad's mother's mom's family came from somewhere in the Italian Piedmont near Turin (home of the next Winter Olympics!) to Connecticut, USA about a hundred years ago. When my grandma went to France a few years ago, she said she could understand a lot of the language first-hand, since her mom used to talk to her sometimes in Savoyard Italian.

It's certainly a wonderful region. I got the chance to see Chamonix and Mont Blanc last summer; we rode the tramway to the Aiguille du Midi and everything.

If Savoy were to become an independent nation, my guess is that Geneva would probably become the capital city.

Coming back to the Quebec French discussion; I too have heard that the language spoken there is more based on the old pronunciations of pre-Revolution France. Similarly, American English preserves many expressions, pronunciations, and words considered archaic in London (but used at one time in various regions throughout the country).
Gian   Wednesday, April 28, 2004, 08:17 GMT
I am savoyard, and i want to keep my french nationality. There won't nevver be any independance for the Savoie especially with Genève. These old swiss bastards!