The 5 most important differences between French in France and French in Québec
According to Wikipedia, there are currently about 7 million French speakers in Quebec who have French as their mother tongue, second only to France in terms of the number of native French speakers.
Quebec French has many aspects in common with French from France, as they share the same origins. The French mostly spoke is as it was used in the 17th and 18th centuries in Paris.
However, there are five major differences between Quebec French and French from France today.
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While it is difficult to tell whether a text comes from a Québécois or French author, it is easy to recognize the differences when you hear them.
While a Québécois is able to understand the pronunciation of French as it is spoken in France without any problem, a French person does not have it so easy.
Because of the Québécois accent, French people often have to make an effort to correctly understand spoken Québécois.
This task is even more complicated if it is a popular variant or "joual" (the name given to the Quebec French spoken by part of the population of Montreal).
French-speaking Quebec has always had to deal with large neighbours such as Canada and the United States.
To defend themselves against English, the French speakers translated many English words into French while they remained in English in the French of France.
One of the best known traffic signs, for example, is the famous "Stop" which in Quebec has become an "Arrêt".
Informal treatment using “tu” is much more common in Quebec than in France. As a result, in Quebec French, people are called by their first name, even if they don't know each other very well.
Formal treatment using “vous” is only used in very formal contexts, whereas in metropolitan French it is much more widespread.
The "tu" in Quebec is also used to emphasize the interrogative nature of a question: "Tu veux tu ?” (Do you want what?). This turn of phrase does not exist in French in France.
Quebec French has its own words. Sometimes words used in Quebec exist in France but have a different meaning, and many other times completely different words are used to express the same thing.
French speakers can have fun learning Quebec vocabulary on sites like "je parle québécois".
It is not always easy to provide good translations, especially when it comes to Quebec vocabulary and expressions when it comes to localizing a Quebec website in France.
There are always words that sound wrong. In an e-commerce or online store, shopping is not always done in the same way. And you don't always find the same items...
The speech of Quebec is very dear to Professor Jean-Pierre Pichette of the University of Sainte-Anne (Nova Scotia). He is the author of the "Guide raisonné des jurons" (reasoned guide to swear words) which lists more than 1300 swear words (qualified as "sacred" in Quebec French).
In this specific field, French is completely different from Quebec. The swear words in Quebec are mainly based on liturgical objects or formulas of the Catholic Church, which has strongly influenced Quebec society.
Be that as it may, French is still French. If your documents are not intended for a recognised organisation, you should compare the two varieties of Molière's language, adapting local words where necessary.
This adaptation will be even more important when it comes to the translation of marketing texts or texts involving the language spoken on a daily basis.
Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.