Difference between French in Quebec and in France?

Discussion in 'Cultural Discussions' started by JLanguage, Mar 26, 2005.

  1. JLanguage Senior Member

    Georgia, US
    USA: American English, Learning Hebrew and Spanish
    MODERATOR'S NOTE: This thread now includes several threads posted on the same topic over the past years.
    NOTE DE LA MODÉRATON : Ce fil comprend maintenant plusieurs fils sur le même thème affichés au cours des dernières années.

    Hi, I don't know French, but I was thinking about it, and I would like to know the differences in speech and in writing.

    Thanks in Advance,
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 23, 2010
  2. scandalously in love

    scandalously in love Senior Member

    Canada - English
    well, I'm not a native speaker, but I'll give you my attempt at a broad generalization...

    It would be quite like N. American and British English.

    1. Pronunciation is different; accents are different.

    2. Words have different meanings. First example that comes to mind is the adjective plein(e). In Québec, when a person says it, it can mean they are full of food, whereas in France, it means they are pregnant!

    3. Expressions are different. You have Québec idioms that mean not very much to a Parisien french speaker, and vice versa. (can't think of any...)

    So that's just a warmer-up post ;) Stick around until a speaker wise and native (hehe) answers your question.
  3. Cath.S.

    Cath.S. Senior Member

    Bretagne, France
    français de France
    Hi SIL, :) no one would use that expression to refer to an expectant mother in France, it would be perceived as very insulting indeed! :eek: :mad:
    The term is sometimes used to refer to pregant non-human females.:thumbsup:
    In slang, il est plein = he is inebriated.

    Now to the difficult part.:( :D
    There is another thread on exactly the same topic, here!
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 23, 2010
  4. Agnès E.

    Agnès E. Senior Member

    France, French
  5. patrickr Senior Member

    canada, english
    I`m trying to learn french. I read that Quebec french is as dissimilar from france french as american english is from british english. Can I get some opinions on if thats true or an exaggeration? It would be a shame to spend so many hours learning the language one way through audio programs and sites like this if I don`t sound native at all here in Montreal. My goal is to be completely billingual to the point that locals can`t tell that I`m anglophone.

    thanks all.
  6. HogansIslander

    HogansIslander Senior Member

    Vancouver, Canada
    English, Canada
    Well, I wouldn't worry too much about this. If you are living in Montreal (or really, anywhere in Canada), you are not going to somehow come out with a Parisian accent unless you somehow manage to avoid all contact with Canadian francophones. Since the francophone radio and TV are almost all Quebecois accents, you are going to hear a lot of this accent as you learn. A few audio-tapes and occasional France French movies are not going to make that much difference unless you are going out of your way to learn it the France French way.

    But if you are concerned about it, I would recommend conversing with native Quebecois as much as possible, trying to get a Quebecois teacher whenever possible if you are taking any classes/lessons, and exposing oneself to Quebecois media as frequently as can be done. Even here in Vancouver, far from the French-speaking heartland, there is French radio and TV, and with the internet you can get a lot more of it.

    In the end, however, sounding native is going to take years and years. Losing your English accent is pretty damn hard :)
  7. Tsoman Banned

    New York
    English -- US
    So do you speak french, but it's just that you have an english accent?

    When I went to montreal, it seemed like almost everyone was speaking french (even though to me they could speak enlglish also).

    Is it normal for an anglo montrealer to not speak French?

    Interesting topic. Quebec fascinates me
  8. Québecois French does have a lot of great expressions, many of which take their roots in the catholic-based traditions there - like "Sacristi!", or "Mes amènes!" (not sure I wrote that correctly) lots of the swear words hare very blasphemous.

    There are also lots of vocabulary differences. "Ma blonde" means my girlfriend/wife (slang), no matter what her hair color is. "Mes gosses" does not mean "my kids" as it does in FF, it rather means "My testicles"... So no asking colleaugues "Ca va, les gosses"?

    There are surely lots of good (and probably fun) websites on QF. Their French always seems more colorful to me.
  9. xtrasystole

    xtrasystole Senior Member

    Of course, it will. Differences only concern the vocabulary (some words), and the accent.
  10. tilt

    tilt Senior Member

    Nord-Isère, France
    French French
    First, I want to say there is NO Parisian French; there is French from France. Paris is not France! :mad:

    That said, there are, indeed, several differences between French from Quebec and from France, but each one understands easily the other one. You'll just have to take care of some words that have different meanings on both side of the ocean (let's speak about the famous gosses! :D).

    Not trying to lose any Canadian accent once in France is the best insurance to avoid confusion in my opinion; especially when you think that Canadian accent is a real benefit for flirting. ;)
  11. LjeviGuz New Member

    Croatia (Croatian)
    I didn't mean to step on any toes here, I know that there is a France outside of Paris.

    Now on to the Canadian French accent. So when you said Canadian Accent is a real benefit for flertin (can you elaborate more on this sentence, and as well as Canadian accent in France in general)

    What i mostly try to do when moving to a new country and adopting a new language is to quickly pick up on the accent asap. So you sound proper, but having an outsider accent has proven quite beneficial on a lot of occasions here in Canada.
  12. polaire Senior Member

    English, United States
    Uh oh, I know this is going to be ... controversial. :) But isn't the French accent that educated foreigners are taught usually some form of "northern" Parisian French? Not "Titi Parisien" French, but, for want of a better term, "Sorbonne French"? In other words, the accent used on my Hachette pronunciation tapes, which I believe were produced by academics?
  13. tilt

    tilt Senior Member

    Nord-Isère, France
    French French
    Of course, this makes sense. But would you say "the New-Yorker English" to refer to the American one? And, anyway, the question was about vocabulary and grammar, which are the same all over France. After all, why not calling it French French? :cool:

    About Canadian accent in France, I just meant that French people have undoubtly a positive a priori with it, like with English accent, whereas others (German, for example) do not sound so... cute. :)
  14. Gil Senior Member

    Français, Canada
    Try l'Alliance française there
    They probably have the accent you're looking for, but watch out: if they come from Toulouse, Marseille, Brest, Strasbourg, etc...it might be a little different...and interesting:)
  15. la petite anglaise Member

    England, English (BE)
    I am intrigued- I know from my time as an assistant that 'les gosses' is slang for 'kids'- but what does it mean in Canadian French then? :confused:
  16. Gil Senior Member

    Français, Canada
    It means "nuts";)
  17. aftereight Member

    London, UK
    It means balls in Quebec. :)
  18. xtrasystole

    xtrasystole Senior Member

    No you are not. People from the Touraine region are considered to speak French without any particular accent.
  19. Stantler New Member

    English- North America
    I had a discussion today with a lady (don't ask how we got on the topic) about who speaks the 'true' french language. It started with a comment from me about Quebec french having a lot of slang compared to parisien french....to which she took quite a bit of offence and insisted that Quebec french was the true french and Parisian was a 'bastardized' version of the real language.

    As it's not a topic that I have really thought much about, but apparently she has. And it surprised me that she would think that way, because in my mind I would put my money on original french coming from France! Her argument is tantamount to saying North American colony english is the real thing and the Brits speak a bastardized version.

    I obviously believe the 'original' french comes from France....but is there anything to what she's saying in so far as changes or modernization of Parisien french?
  20. Salvatos Senior Member

    Québec, Canada
    French - Québec
    I'll make it short since these topics tend to devolve into arguments and start by saying that no one speaks "ze true French" - because such a thing does not exist. In literature, there is one standardized French that will be understood by any French speaker, regardless of their origins. Formally, a similar standardisation can be achieved in speech, but it's not found on the colloquial level. All dialects have evolved from the same language, and they now all have their specific features - and Parisian French being spoken in France doesn't really make it any holier for that sole reason. If anything, its number of speakers should be what gives it its status, but in the end, for me, it's like apples: whether your prefer red or green ones, they're still apples, and the red ones being more popular doesn't make them objectively better ;)

    This article is a good, short read: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_French (the last paragraph being more a matter of opinions than facts).

    Now as for Québec French being the true variant... no. It is not the source of it and it is not the reference. What is interesting to note is that some of our pronunciations are inherited from the way the French spoke when they colonized North America (since a large portion of our ancestors were French to begin with). They did not follow the same course as imperial French and were possibly slower to change due to lack of communication between empire and colony and a desire from the settlers to speak what was then proper French. It is therefore ironic that some people say Québec French or its accent are bastardized forms, since they're actually closer to what used to be the norm (and I don't think that makes them better nor worse).

    As a result, we also still use many idioms that rely on word meanings that are now considered archaic elsewhere. For instance, amancher probably means nothing in France nowadays (otherwise my example is not the best but still works), but it is common in Québec (and Acadia apparently). And if you have a look at its entry on XMLittré*, you will see that #2 is one of the meanings still in use here. But that doesn't make Québec French better in any way, nor do I personally see it as archaic as a whole, but rather a different evolution of a same basis; "amancher", for example, is indeed archaic in France, but here it simply remained contemporary and evolved.

    On a last note, I wouldn't say Québec French has more slang (it's difficult to assess such a thing), I think it's rather that our familiar register might sit farther from standard French than the ones in Europe. You could actually consider Québec French a slang form of French, so if you're judging from there, it's hard to pinpoint what is slang and what's just part of the dialect. Because otherwise, our formal form is (mostly) the same. It's the step from formal to familiar that may be bigger here.

    Well, I hope that helped :) Just keep in mind that it's mostly a matter of opinion and there's never a language or dialect that is better than the others!

    * « Ce site propose une version interrogeable en ligne du dictionnaire de la langue française d'Émile Littré. Cet ouvrage a été publié à partir de 1863, puis dans sa deuxième édition en 1872-1877. » (Proof of "true French" origins.)
  21. Kikurukina Senior Member

    Canadian English
    Don't forget that there are French speakers in New Brunswick and they have their kind of French that is different from Quebec. French in Quebec varies by region as well. The French in Abitibi-Temiscamingue is not the same for as the one in Saguenay, Montreal or Quebec City. Quebec, the province, is kind of big, afterall.

    Off the top of my mind, Quebec French has a lot of neologisms from English--that is, Franglish/franglais, because we have such close English neighbours. There are too many to name that I'm not even sure if I'm making them up or that everyone else uses them. It's a language that evolves everyday and no one can really keep track of it. You could find some slang dictionaries on the internet but those are not chiselled in stone. I've never heard anyone tell me to go fart in some clovers so I would not bet on their authenticity yet.

    An example that we had used in class to study was the English verb "fuck." (No, really!) Fuck has various meanings in English. The obvious one and then the one that says "This computer is fucked up," as in messed up or broken. In French, I am more inclined to say "Ce ordi est fucké!" instead of "Ce ordi ne fonctionne pas!" in an informal setting.

    At the same time, since our French is fairly isolated that we need to make our own TV shows, there are a lot of expressions that refer back to the good old days (Tire-toi un bûche!). Even in some of older citizens, they'll say "M'aller" instead of "Je vais."

    Also, "Yes, no, toaster," seems to be universal in Quebec. I don't think that is something you would need to express in France.
  22. Spira Banned

    South of France
    UK English
    Oui, non, grille-pain.
    What does this mean?
    Also, "Yes, no, toaster," seems to be universal in Quebec. I don't think that is something you would need to express in France.
    What does this sentence mean?
  23. Salvatos Senior Member

    Québec, Canada
    French - Québec
    "Yes, no, toaster" is kind of a semi-idiom people use in Québec to show the extent of their English skills. For example :
    "Parles-tu anglais ?"
    "Je connais juste 'yes, no, toaster'."
    Which is also kind of funny since most people actually say "toaster" instead of "grille-pain" in Québec, which goes to show how little of an achievement "yes, no, toaster" is.

    Around here there's also this one that I like: "I spik Inglish par mottons" (mottons being slang for "bits"... the kind of bits you'd find in expired milk, for instance).

    I don't get Kikurukina's last sentence either, though...
  24. Spira Banned

    South of France
    UK English
    I suppose he means that you don't hear it in France, rather than need it. Which is correct.

    For my tuppence's worth (or should I say two cents?) it seems to me quite obvious that the French language originated in France, but that means little these days, for it is in French-speaking Canada (perhaps not just Quebec) that an organised resistance to keep French as traditional and unchanged as possible has been the most forceful. In France itself no truly meaningful resistance has ever won the day, despite a couple of Culture ministers trying to outlaw Englishisms.
    Which makes Canada a really curious place linguistically, for their French is old-fashioned to French ears, while their English is so Americanised as to seem much more modern and US-friendly than English spoken in the UK.
  25. Istriano

    Istriano Senior Member

    I don't like Quebec French, I prefer Acadian French (NB).
    New Brunswick was populated with people from Eastern France, while
    Quebec had more people coming from the Northwest (Normandy, Bretagne), that's why they sound completely different. Acadian sounds very pleasant. :)
    I adore Natasha St-Pier
  26. uchi.m

    uchi.m Senior Member

    Redeeming limbo
    Brazil, Portuguese
    Frenchs in Québec are more friendly.
    Not always so when back home in France.
  27. gpuri

    gpuri Senior Member

    Melbourne, Australia
    English, Aust.

    I am due to visit Paris, Orleans, Quebec City et Montreal.

    I am studying beginners French with the basic greetings and common verbs like etre and avoir.

    I want to know if this would be mostly the same between Canada and France? Are there any common greetings or terms for getting around that would be different?
    I am using some websites which provide common terms and phrases for tourists in France e.g. how to buy a train ticket etc. Would this be the same language in Quebec?
  28. Salvatos Senior Member

    Québec, Canada
    French - Québec
    I think greetings would be largely the same. In any case, if you use standard French rather than either country's colloquial/slang, you should be understood in all of these places even if some expressions you use sound less local. Have a nice trip :)
  29. SãoEnrique

    SãoEnrique Banned

    French France
    I like the Canadian accent, futhermore they speak with the nose.
  30. SãoEnrique

    SãoEnrique Banned

    French France
    Plein(e) is equal at enceinte? I never heard it...
  31. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    I have a friend who was an exchange student in France back in the 1970s. She said "Ouf! Je suis pleine" at the dinner table and provoked embarrassed laughter. I don't know if it's still current, but at that time "Je suis pleine" definitely meant "I'm knocked up/pregnant". It was a vulgar expression.
  32. SãoEnrique

    SãoEnrique Banned

    French France
    If your friend had finished to eat and she said "Je suis pleine", for us it doesn't sound odd, if we stay in this context of course. If it's another context for us in france it's sound like a vulgar expression like you. For this we don't have many difference :)
  33. JamesM

    JamesM à la Mod

    Well, she patted her stomach as she said it, which is a common gesture in the U.S. Perhaps it was the combination of the words and the gesture. :)
  34. SãoEnrique

    SãoEnrique Banned

    French France
    Of course;)
  35. vsop44 Senior Member

    pays d'Evangeline
    français France
    Je me rappelle que grandissant dans le Maine-Anjou après la guerre (2eme), dans les fermes les jeunes hommes appelaient les jeunes filles/femmes "femelles" (prononcé fumelle) et comme le bétail elle pouvaient aussi etre pleines (enceintes) :D

    Au Québec le mot pour toast éait "rotie" dans les années 60/70...
  36. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    Greetings are the same; you will hear many Quebeckers say ''bon matin'', though this is officially frowned upon. You'll have no problem buying a train ticket, the words used are precisely the same (no ''round-trip'' (AE)/return (BE), for example, to be concerned about; Quebec has no TGVs either).

    The accent, however, is utterly different. Quebeckers also tag ''là'' (pronounced approximately as ''loh'') on to a huge proportion of sentences they use in daily speech.

    ''Vous allez où là ?'' etc.

    Expect to hear (but don't try to imitate) curse words derived from the Catholic Church: ''tabarnak'' (tabarnacle), ''câlisse'' (calice), ''ostie'' (hostie), ''ciboire'' etc., which are not found in France (Quebec curses sound better :)).

    In very colloquial speech you will also hear ''tu'' repeated, despite it serving no signifying function, ''Il vient-tu ou pas'' ?
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2012
  37. rolmich Senior Member

    french (France)
    I sometimes enjoy the canadian TV series Fortier. Without the sub-titles (in french), I would understand half of the dialogue!
    Some examples :
    passes-moi ton gun (arme/revolver)
    Tu fais partie de l'escouade ? (equipe)
    Tu changes de job ? (emploi).... and many others.
    Istriano, do you have a link for me where I could hear the Acadian accent?
    Thanks in advance
  38. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    Ah now, really? I find it rather offensive that TV5Monde subtitles it to be honest (they seem to do the same for all Quebec shows), the words may be different but if a foreigner like me can understand the dialogue without a problem, a native French speaker should too.

    I know that I'd be fairly cheesed off if Americans started subtitling Irish films.
  39. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    I think you have to know American English to understand Quebecois French. If so, all of those sentences and many others make complete sense. I don't mind the subtitles. They're helpful enough.
  40. rolmich Senior Member

    french (France)
    "escouade" (equipe or bande in France) does not come from AE so as many other terms which are not any more in use in France. Obviously, in a popular TV serie like Fortier many words are literally adopted from AE.
  41. merquiades

    merquiades Senior Member

    USA Northeast
    Sorry, I thought it probably came from "squad", "squadron".
  42. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    Escouade, in the context of Fortier, refers to une escouade policière, which I presume is a term also used in France.
  43. wildan1

    wildan1 Moderando ma non troppo

    -tu after a verb is an interrogative particle used in conversational French in Canada, equivalent to est-ce que at the beginning of an interrogative sentence:

    Il vient-tu? = Est-ce qu'il vient? ; Vient-il?

    Its origins are from regional dialects of French in France (-t'y, -ti).

    See further explanations here.
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012
  44. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    I agree with Rolmich,
    It's wrong to assume, Pedro. ;) For me escouade is a military term, meaning Squad. Yes, I know back in Ireland we speak of "squad cars" when talking about the police.
    However in France, I think it's more une patrouille policière here in France.
    or even un peloton de gendarmerie (exemples) when speaking of the rural police force. (literally "Men in arms")
  45. Pedro y La Torre

    Pedro y La Torre Senior Member

    Paris, France
    English (Ireland)
    Howya l'irlandais,

    I see now that the term is indeed absent from Franco-French sites; I had gotten so used to it in Montreal that I presumed it was everywhere! I wonder does the Gendarmerie use it, given that it is an arm of the military?
  46. L'irlandais

    L'irlandais Senior Member

    Dreyeckland/Alsace region
    Ireland: English-speaking ♂
    Well, peloton is definitely the term used by the media over here. It's a company section, commanded by a lieutenant.
    All on-line references (I've found) to escouade in this sense are Canadian. But perhaps in french police jargon they also use escouade for special units.
  47. rolmich Senior Member

    french (France)
    In France, the term "brigade" is also used as in brigade des moeurs (vice squad) which deals with prostitution and pedophilia
  48. Nanon

    Nanon Senior Member

    Entre Paris et Lisbonne
    français (France)
    Was, maybe.
    Mes deux cennes (a more-than-direct translation, not used in France, but it makes me smile :)).
  49. RIAADVD Senior Member

    Maracay, Venezuela
    Castellano, Venezuela
    J'ai écouté que les Québécois, voient l'accent de Paris un peu “Snob” C'est vrai?

    I've heard that "les Québécois", see the accent from Paris a little bit "Snob" Is it true?
  50. Salvatos Senior Member

    Québec, Canada
    French - Québec
    It is. In comparison, Quebeckers would sound like rednecks to French people.

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