Quebecois French

James   Fri Jul 13, 2007 6:07 am GMT
I have some questions for both native French speakers and those who have learned French as a second language: What do you think of the French language as it is spoken in Quebec? Is it easy to understand if you are fluent in Continental French? Is it at all similar to any particular dialect within France? Is the written language/grammar almost the same?

(I suppose I should also let the Quebecois give their opinions about Parisian French...)

I'm asking because I've always been interested in the region, and, as for most Americans, it is obviously a lot easier to travel there than to Europe.

Finally: Are there any Quebec authors you like--especially those that can be read without too much difficulty by us not-so-fluent learners?

Guest   Fri Jul 13, 2007 5:59 pm GMT
Quebec french is completly understandable for france's speakers, especially in big cities and medias. said that, there are ac lot of old-fashonned and local expressions, as well as anglicisms and a strong accent. some people in deep quebec have a very strong accent which is much harder to understand.

culturally speaking quebecers are much more "anglicized" than french people, and they lead a way of life which is in big part closer to the US's than France's.
Parisien   Fri Jul 13, 2007 8:02 pm GMT
- Written language: undistinguishable from European French. Less differences than between American Eng. and the Queen's English.

- Spoken language - a few special features you've got to be acquainted with:
. before stressed weak vowels (i, é), 't' and 'd' tend to become 'ts' and 'dz' (in other words, it's like the second consonantic shift in German).
. there's a general vowel shift, the nasal 'an' sounds a little bit like Eur. Fr. 'in', 'a' tends towards 'o'.
No big deal, it takes a few minutes to adjust. It's like the differences between mainstream French, Belgian French and Southern French.

"Is it at all similar to any particular dialect within France?"
- extremely similar to Western French accents, with the same lexicon.

Now, the REALLY BIG differences. It's a question of registers. In Quebec, high ranking officials and CEOs speak basically the same language as common people, unlike the Parisian bourgeoisie that sticks to a purely articulated French.
Quebecers feel that upper class speak as unnatural, snobbish and unpleasant. On the other hand, to Parisian ears Quebec is the country where lawyers, professors and ministers are speaking like Norman peasants...

Montreal urban slang is something really special. Barely intelligible to French ears. Plenty of idiosyncrasic words and idioms. Suppose an American from the deep South and a Glaswegian speaking their own respective slangs: the American will be fully understood in Glasgow, but he won't grasp anything from Glaswegian speech. This is the kind of one-way communication French people sometimes experience in Montreal.

"culturally speaking quebecers are much more "anglicized" than french people": caution, this is a VERY sensitive issue!
Both France's and Quebec French underwent a heavy English influence, but separately. As a result anglicisms aren't the same between both shores on the Atlantic. And since people take notice first of all of the anglicisms they aren't used to, Quebecers are shocked at the many anglicisms in French French, and conversely the French are just as much...

English: "I left my car on the parkin lot for the week-end'
Fr.French: "J'ai laissé ma voiture sur le parking pour le week-end'
Q.French: "J'ai laissé mon char au stationnement pour la fin de semaine'...
I hate spam   Fri Jul 13, 2007 10:55 pm GMT
dear parisien,

i doubt you are french (or parisien)

a french would rather say :

J'ai garé ma voiture pour le week end.

He would never say "j'ai "laissé""

Parisien   Sat Jul 14, 2007 8:58 am GMT
"a french would rather say : ..."


"J'ai mis ma voiture au garage"
"Je me suis garé devant" (sur la rue)
"J'ai laissé la voiture au parking"

Ces 3 expressions emploient des verbes différents exprimant 3 nuances distinctes, parfaitement usuelles.
Guest   Sat Jul 14, 2007 2:10 pm GMT
Je suis Français et je dis "J'ai laissé ma voiture sur le parking" ...
Certaines personnes passent vraiment leur temps ici à chercher des poux dans la tête des autres...

I love Quebecois French. The way it sounds is much more pleasant, I think it sounds like a song. It's perfectly understandable except when it is old/remote dialects of Quebecois. I love it though.
Guest   Sat Jul 14, 2007 5:21 pm GMT
''I love Quebecois French. The way it sounds is much more pleasant, I think it sounds like a song.''

I agree.

''On the other hand, to Parisian ears Quebec is the country where lawyers, professors and ministers are speaking like Norman peasants... ''

similar to Portuguese, to many Portuguese people Brazilian Portuguese sounds like a mixture of Northern and Southern Portuguese dialects spoken with bad grammar.
Jérémy   Sat Jul 14, 2007 8:35 pm GMT
Latest "guest" was me, sorry, I always forget to write my name.

I wanted to add that though I'm French, I must admit that compared to Quebecois French, I find French French flat and dull.
James   Sun Jul 15, 2007 5:23 am GMT
Thanks for all the responses. Any recommendations about Quebec authors?
Parisien   Sun Jul 15, 2007 9:40 am GMT
My favourite Quebec author is one of the most famous of all French language blogs, "Journal de Bord d'une Camionneuse":

The author is the most unlikely character one can imagine: a young female truck driver, whose main centres of interest are, besides trucking, in litterature.

Her texts are exceptionally well written and deliver wonderful views of North American roads, towns and landscapes seen from a French Canadian eye.
Earle   Wed Jul 18, 2007 4:02 am GMT
Perhaps you should stick to French comparisons, rather than trying to extrapolate your theories onto Scots and US Southerners. In the American South, particularly the upper South, the settlers were predominately Scottish and Northern Irish. I live in an area with an SMA of around one million and the pages of the phone book beginning with "Mc" and "Mac" number in the dozens. My middle name (my mother's maiden name) is "Boyd" quite common in Scotland and Ireland. As a consequence there is much commonality with upper Southern speech and Irish and Scottish speech. The accents from Scotland are easily understood by me and my accent by them.
Parisien (LE VRAI)   Wed Jul 18, 2007 9:33 pm GMT

If your Scottish background of American Southerner allows you to grasp Glaswegian, I think you're a lucky man.