Canadian vs. European French

As any other language, French comes in all kinds of varieties. Most of the French spoken in North America is inherited from the early Norman settlers of the 17th century. Many of these men and women still spoke the Norman language, one of many Oïl languages that were used in northern France prior to French becoming the country's official language in the late 18th century. Some of the expressions that characterize Canadian French have simply endured centuries while forgotten in the old countries.

As a young adult traveling Europe, I always got a kick out of mixing with the locals. I met an Italian who spoke very good French. We had been chatting for a while when he inquired about my accent. He was new to my particular brand of French. During a conversation with a Parisian and a Swiss, I mentioned that the difference between their respective accents wasn't obvious to my North American ear. They looked a bit startled by my statement. Well... I added... "both your accents are closer to one another than to mine... right?" They had to agree and asked me if I could speak French in a more European way. When I did, they asked why I didn't simply keep on. Well... I said... "that's not the way my speech was trained and maintaining it requires a constant effort that becomes tiring after a while."

Learning a new language is a challenging task. Tackling local expressions on top of it can be a major hurdle to the layman. Many who lack the desire to do so will rationalize their frustrations by concluding that the person with whom they experienced these frustrations simply didn't speak properly.

Parisian argot comes with its own set of expressions that may represent a challenge. Click below [in French only] to compare it with Québécois joual.

Click here for a full-screen view of the animation.


Simon said...

hi Michel...thanks for that. Me and my buddy laughed until tears ran down our faces. However it reminded me of the time when me and two pur lains from la Metropole asked an old farmer in the Saguenay for directions. I of course understood nothing, but the best part was neither did they. And the look on their faces was priceless... :)

Shiva-ji said...
This comment has been removed by the author.