French from France vs Quebec French

As you may know, Quebec is a French-speaking province of Canada. In today’s post, we will look at how French from France and Quebec French are different. 

Image - French from France vs Quebec French - look in the historyFirst, let’s take a look back through history.

The language was the same in both regions, to begin with, French colonies brought their language with them when they first landed on the coast of Canada (in Saint Laurent) at the beginning of the 17th century.

Of course around this period communication and cultural exchange were not as easy as today, which explains why the two regions started developing variations in their language.

But what are the main differences? Talk with a French (from France) speaker and ask them about the Quebec French: the first thing they will mention is the accent. But it also works the other way around.

 

Image - French from France vs Quebec French - How the language soundsLet’s begin with the obvious, how the language sounds.

Because, yes, the main difference is oral. Reading a document written by someone in Quebec and read one written by someone from France will probably be very similar.

Quebec is not the only region to have an accent though! The North of France, South of France, Suisse, Belgium… They all have their own particular ways of pronouncing things

People often say that the French from France is more clear and not as contracted as the French from Quebec. Also, The French from the Canadian province is more nasal. It is usually easy for someone from the North American regions to understand the French spoken in France, but it is not as easy the other way around.

As for experiencing the pronunciation for yourself, there are plenty of videos on the internet for you to hear the distinction between the two,I won’t risk trying to demonstrate it myself as I am not a specialist in the Quebec accent.

 

Image - French from France vs Quebec French - the vocabularyThe other main difference between France French and Quebec French is in the vocabulary.

Over time, some words took on a whole different meaning. Here are some useful differences to know if you don’t want people to completely misunderstand you, and end up in an embarrassing situation!

Les gosses.

In France, this is a familiar way to talk about kids. However, you really don’t want to use this word in Quebec to talk about kids as it actually means testicles!

Be careful with the words you choose when you’re gonna say that you are able to take care of the kids.

Une culotte.

In French this is the word for underwear. In Quebec French it is the word for trousers. The confusion will probably end up in a funny situation more than an embarrassing one but it is still useful to know.

Une catin

Well, this is the French word to describe the oldest job in the world, “une catin” is a prostitute… At least in France. In Quebec, it is a little girl. So keep that in mind when you want to talk about your friend’s little girl.

Une beigne

In Quebec, this is a donut. In France, this is a slap. So think twice before you agree to receive one of these…

Une liqueur

Because we are talking about food with the “beigne” (at least in Quebec), let’s talk about drinks. In Quebec “une liqueur” is a fizzy drink. Where in France it is a spirit.


These are just some examples I have in mind, but if you have more or if you have some experiences related to the French language on one side or the other of the Atlantique, share it with us!

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