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Québécois French

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Québécois French is the dialect or array of dialects of French (and more specifically, of Canadian French) spoken by the Quebecois, a people of the province of Quebec, Canada.

Québec French is substantially different in pronounciation and vocabulary, though easily mutually comprensible, with the French of France. This is due to the long history of French in Canada and the fact that French immigrants to Canada were largely from areas outside Paris (see King's Daughters), whose dialect eventually became the national language of France during the French revolution.

Many in France do have some problem understanding Québécois French, especially when spoken informally. Some Quebec television shows when shown in France have been subtitled because of this.

Although the two (especially more standard lects) are quite intercomprehensible, modern Québécois French shows several distinctions from the French of France.

One well-known one is a tendency to affricate dental stops before high front vowels and semivowels: the second-person pronoun tu, /ty/ in the French of France, is /tsy/ in Québécois French. (n.b.: phonetic transcription in X-SAMPA.)

The dialect also contains a much wider range of vowel allophones than the French of France; for example, the masculine and feminine adjectives petit and petite, /p@ti/ and /p@tit/ in the French of France, are /p@tsi/ and /p@tsIt/ in Québécois French. Similar pre-voiceless consonant allophony are to be found with the vowels /y/ -> /Y/, /o/ -> /O/, and /u/ -> /U/.

Long and nasalized vowels in the French of France are often diphthongized in Québécois French: père (father), /pE:r/ in FoF, is /pEjr/ in QF, and banque (bank), /ba~k/ in FoF, is /ba~w~k/ in QF.

Older speakers often use a rolled r rather than the fricative used in FoF and modern QF.

Furthermore, there are various lexical differences between QF and FoF. Many of these are forms that are archaic in FoF, such as espérer for "to wait" (attendre in FoF). Cour in QF is a backyard ("jardin" in FoF), whereas in FoF a cour has dropped this meaning and primarily means a courtyard, plus other derived meanings like courthouse (palais de justice in QF)).

Some of them are borrowings or calques from English, such as bines ("beans") or full ("very"). Banc de neige is a calque of the English "snowbank" (FoF, "congère").

The presence of English borrowings is often a cause of stigmatization (see below). However, especially in modern items, QF often contains forms that are more "French" than FoF, like fin de semaine for FoF week-end, logiciel for FoF software, courriel for FoF e-mail or mèl Although many of these forms were promulgated by the Office de la Langue Française (OLF) of Quebec, they have been accepted into everyday use. (To be fair, some of these francized terms are often used in FoF too.)

The OLF propounds official standards for written and taught French in Quebec, and is considered more modern and proactive than the French Académie de la langue française, having proposed, for example, the above francized technical terms which have later become common usage in Quebec, as well as accepted popular changes in usage to reduce sexism. For example, Canadian French uses many feminine job titles (la mairesse, la juge, la docteure) for which official French of France usage remains masculine (madame le maire.)

A joke runs that the difference between FoF and QF is that in France, on se gare dans un parking and in Quebec, on se parque dans un stationnement.

There are also words for Quebec specialties that do not exist in France, for example poutine, cégep, pets de soeurs ("nuns' farts," a kind of pastry), and dépanneur (a corner store/small grocery; dépanneur in FoF is a car mechanic).

One of the more hazardous differences is the fact that gosses ("boys" or "sons" in FoF) means "testicles" in QF.

Finally, there are many idioms in QF that do not exist in FoF, such as mets-en ("I'll say"), fait que ("so"), s'en venir (for arriver and venir ici), and of course the art of sacrer. Speakers of QF also use the informal second-person pronoun tu in more contexts than speakers of FoF do.

QF has a variety of lects, ranging from formal QF, strongly influenced by modern FoF and with phonological features softened, to joual. Significant regional differences exist when comparing, for example, the QF of Montreal, Quebec City, and the Saguenay. For example, Montreal French diphthongizes in more contexts than Quebec City French.

Quebecois French is the most prominent lect of Canadian French, and most French-Canadians have similar lects. However, the Acadians have a separate dialect, Acadian French. See also Michif.

QF has often been stigmatized, among the Québécois themselves as well as among the Continental French and anglophones, as a low-class dialect, sometimes due to its use of anglicisms, sometimes simply due to its differences from the standard FoF. However, some writers and thinkers, especially Michel Tremblay, are trying to improve QF's image and promote its use as a distinct and vigorous dialect.

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