Canadian French vs. France French: Parlez-vous francais?

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Difference between Canadian French and France French

It is common knowledge that French is widely spoken in many parts of Canada. But what isn't as widely known is the fact that there are actually quite a few significant differences between the language as spoken in Canada and in France. While a native French speaker would generally be able to understand Canadian French without too much difficulty–and vice-versa–there are enough differences between the two to warrant a comparison…and here it is!

Canadian French
France French

History and Distribution

Canadian French is spoken by more than 6,000,000 in Canada, which accounts for at least 24% of the country's total population. Of this number, a large part is concentrated mainly in Quebec, where the local population is comprised of more than 80% Franco-Canadians. After Quebec, the Canadian province with the most number of Canadian French speakers is Ontario, which has more than 400,000 people who speak the language. Many intellectuals have traditionally referred to standard French cultural inspiration although people who speak it in Canada have often been derided for their pronunciation and usage of standard French. Possibly in relation to this, standard French and Canadian French are not usually considered as “prestigious” as English. This perception may also be attributed to residual resentment felt by French Canadian separatists towards the motherland.

Evolution/Preservation Of The Language

Canadian French tends to be somewhat more traditional in nature, perhaps owing to the tendency of transplanted languages to retain much of the form and content that they originally had in their native communities. For this reason, Canadian French is decidedly more archaic than the standard version, drawing considerable influence from the language as spoken in the rural areas of France, as opposed to the more literary form spoken in Paris. In addition, Canadian French has been infused with words of native origin as well as English content.

Linguistic Features

In terms of diction, Canadian French is much less clearly articulated than standard French and it is characterized by less lip movements and a more monotonous delivery. Nasal vowels are also a lot less pronounced, as opposed to standard French where they are quite clearly emphasized. Vocabulary and syntax were also subject to considerable English influence, although efforts were made in the 1950s and the 1960s to restore the language to its original form. Canadian French is also heavily infused with numerous words attributed to the “new economy”.

Summary

Canadian French

  • Spoken by more than 6,000,000 people in Canada, which accounts for 24% of the total population
  • Spoken mainly in Quebec
  • Existed in "pure" form in the 18th century, although it gradually adopted more English influences
  • Relatively archaic compared to standard French
  • Is less clearly articulated than standard French

French

  • Is still the model for cultural inspiration
  • Pronunciation and usage is sometimes subject to scorn and mockery by French Canadians
  • More modern than the somewhat archaic Canadian French
  • More clearly articulated with more lip movement and varied intonation

Which is better?
  • Canadian French
  • France French
 
 

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