- What is the difference between Canadian French (also known as Quebec French, Quebecois, Canadian French) and Parisian French (known as Europian French, Metropolitan French, Standard French)?
- Is Quebec French as different as American accent vs. British accent?
- Is the grammar different or just the vocabulary?
- Should I bother learning Quebec French if I live and work in Canada?
- I speak some French, will I be understood and understand others in Quebec?
- Do you speak Québécois or Standard Français?
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How is Canadian French Different From Parisian French?
I researched on this topic and read many different articles including Le Français en 10 leçons by Alexandre Coutu, Wikipedia, D’où vient l’accent des Québécois? Et celui des Parisiens by Jean-Denis and a few more articles I found. I am not an expert on that subject, but I am very interested in the answer so you are I guess if you are reading this post… Here is my little research … …. First of all I found many contradictions.. some sources say Quebec French was spoken by Kings, other say by paysans … but after some more research, here is the most accurate version…
The origins of Quebec French lie in the 17th- and 18th-century regional varieties of modern French. It was the language of paysans and working class, while standard French, also known as European French or Metropolitan French is a very articulated French and was the language spoken primarily by lawyers and doctors. Quebec French and Parisian French are not at all the same things, but the big difference that exists between the two is in spoken language, i.e the vocabulary used, while the grammar remains the same, and this is where the most confusion comes from. Quebec French is used in everyday communication, as well as in education, the media, and government. Even if you hear people speaking standard French on the streets, on TV, in the news or radio – don’t let this mislead you.
It is not really the weird Quebec accent that makes the French sound different but the vocabulary difference. You can keep your favorite French accent – but make sure to use the right words. A big number of words and expressions used in Français are NOT used in Québécois, and vice versa, that means a good number of tips you have learned so far related to French language, French culture and traditions may NOT apply AT ALL if you live and work in Canada. French speakers come to Canada from all over the world and the first job they have is ….. a tutoring job. They teach French they know without bothering of learning first the French that is actually spoken in Canada. This is disappointing, very disappointing. What is the most surprising of it all is that there is no course on spoken Canadian French.
I've found a dozen of dictionaries and tourist guides, but not a single course to structurally teach the language. There are a few blogs and books – but they are all in French, so if you are just a beginner – you will not understand a word of it. … Just because there are very little resources and too many questions on that subject, I decided to fill the gap … To begin with, here below are just some words and expressions that do differ between Standard French and French spoken in Quebec and create the most confusion:
- I’am 30 yrs old Français: J’ai 30 ans; Québécois: Je suis 30 (or chu 30)
- I take a walk Français: Je me promène; Québécois: Je prends une marche
- Stay on the line Français: Restez en ligne; Québécois: Demeurez en ligne
- At this time, presently Français: Actuellement; Québécois: Présentement
- To cancel Français: Annuler; Québécois: Canceller
- Email Français: Le mail; Québécois: Le courriel
- Mail Français: Le courrier; Québécois: Le mail
- Weekend Français: Le weekend; Québécois: La fin de semaine
- Breakfast Français: Le petit déjeuner; Québécois: Le déjeuner
- Cell-phone Français: Le portable; Québécois: Le cellulaire
- Parking Français: Le parking; Québécois: Le stationnement
- Shopping Français: Le shopping; Québécois: Le magasinage
- Car Français: La voiture; Québécois: Le char
Standard French and the French spoken in Québec are about as different as British and American English. Linguistically speaking, Canadian French is a dialect because of the different vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar used, but to a Quebecer is it a different language and if you are to work or live in Quebec it is very important to keep this in mind otherwise you risk to make a long life ennemi.
I speak some French, will I be understood and understand others in Québec ?
Yes, you will be. The majority of Quebecers know how to speak Standard French .. and would switch right away if they feel you are not “one of them”, but speaking standard French may feel awkward and tiring for them … On the other hand, if you at least try to speak their language, and I don’t mean imitating the quebec accent but chosing the vocabulary, they will open up … If you want to impress one of your colleagues or friends, learn a few expressions and use them.. Don’t take my word for it, try it and see where it will take you.
Do you speak Québécois or Standard French?
I learned French while doing my brevet a l’école secondaire in Brussels (Belgium) and French I speak is Standard European French (except for the fact that in Belgium French you don’t have to do math when counting 70-90). Quebec accent is not my favorite one, frankly speaking I don’t like it at all, but when I travel to Quebec – I always use the words and expressions that are common to Quebecers, that really makes the whole difference in attitude.
If you would like to learn more about Quebec French, make sure you subscribe to my Youtube channel where I teach Quebec French to English-speaking Canadians https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k86unFl-lE0
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