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How are Quebecois generally received in France, language-wise?

How are Quebecois generally received in France, language-wise? Are there issues? Do some French consider Quebecois a disfavored dialect?

Posted by
20 posts

Hi Kent - I've lived in France and consider myself close to bilingual - I live in the US but very close to Montreal, and I discovered living in France that many French people thought I was from French Canada/Quebec (and was welcomed with open arms). Generally speaking, I have found the French can definitely understand the French-Canadian/Quebecois accent. I parallel this question to the US/Canadian English accent vs the British English accent...the French will immediately be able to tell you're from "out of town". The French could have a harder time understanding an informal conversation with lots of slang. Many Quebecois TV shows I've watched aired in France have subtitles (which some Quebecois find insulting). I think it's mainly due to the many vocabulary differences, slang, and cultural references and NOT the different accent or pronunciation. Most French-speaking Canadians are able to switch from their more informal speech and slang to a more "formal", "standard", or "international" French without a problem when speaking to European-French people. French Canadian is fine to use[INVALID]but when you're speaking French in France, 99% of the time people will say "Quebecois" vs "Francais-canadien".

Posted by
637 posts

This summer we visited Paris for the second time. Do French Canadian generally get understood in Paris, yes after a few tries...The Parisians tend to switch to English with us every time, we always have to repeat everything, but we persist and they finally understand. When in Europe we speak formal or international French not the slang Quebécois that we use most days, like John explained above. What i find odd, is that we never encountered this in Belgium, Switzerland, or different regions of France, only in Paris!

Posted by
2349 posts

This is just an anecdote-This summer I had 2 Parisiennes tell me that the Quebecois spoke terrible French and were so hard to understand. We were speaking more about my American high school French, and my daughter who was doing a summer in Bretagne. It kind of came out of the blue to me, their complaints about Quebecois French. I thought there must be some sort of bias or prejudice against the Canadians. Maybe the French can be kind to an American who attempts their language, but want to point out to those who think it is their native language that they are not doing a very good job with it.

Posted by
76 posts

Who's French is French? Well, it all depends at who's knee you learned it! I grew up in North Africa, Morocco (French). My parents are American but my nanny was a Moroccan Fatimah (French speaking). What brand of French do Moroccan's speak? Strictly Parisian! Even though Morocco is no longer a French protectorate (it was for 90 years) most of the shops are owned by French people, including Parisians. When I visit Paris (my favorite place in the world) can Parisians understand me when I speak? YES. Can I understand Parisians when they speak? YES. This is a direct quote from a Paris waiter: "You speak like a Parisian - where are you from?" Who's French can I understand the best? An Arab! When I hear a Quebecois speak can I understand them? NO, fagettaboutit!

Posted by
20 posts

I actually studied this whole subject of Quebec-France linguistic relations in college...it's very interesting! A lot of the so called "disapproval" you may find in France of the Quebecois (and all other) dialects stems from the fact that back in colonial times, unlike the British, when the French were colonizing they had a "mission to civilize" their colonies - which included learning to speak the "pure" form of French. To this day, many French consider the French spoken in France as the only "correct" form of French. In the case of Quebec and the rest of French Canada, (since about the time of the Quiet Revolution in the 1960's), Quebecois French was actually considered a more "lower class" dialect - not only in France but also in parts of Quebec itself...partly due to the influence of English, and the different vocabulary, grammar structure, etc. (Look up Joual [INVALID] which is a "working class" dialect found in Montreal for a common example). This mentality has recently started to change in France since the time of Quebec's Quiet Revolution (in the 1960's). I think today, from the people I have crossed, many just poke fun at the accent, all out of love though! (Kind of like how some Americans chuckle and find British vocab words and sentence structure "amusing").

Posted by
10344 posts

The Quebec-France linguistic relations are interesting. In general, is there a tendency for the French (in France) to look down on other French dialects? And would some French people consider Quebecois to be a non-favored dialect?

Posted by
31262 posts

Kent, as I mentioned in my reply to your other post, I've been told that the version of French spoken in Quebec is "old French". I believe the implication is that Parisian French has evolved into a more "sophisticated" version, while the Quebec version is still mired in the past. ¶ I routinely encounter people from Quebec when travelling in Europe, and have been told by a number of them that they get a worse "reception" in France than the English speakers. Therefore, they usually use English if possible. ¶ From what I've personally observed, conversations between Quebecois and those from France CAN be understood, but it's difficult as some words are completely different and therefore it's difficult in some cases to get the meaning across. ¶ I don't speak French as I've always had a lot of difficulty with the pronunciation (I didn't do well in high school). I find Italian to "fit" my abilities much better. However, I've been thinking of taking some lessons this Fall as I may be touring in a French-speaking area next year. It will interesting to see which version I'll be taught. I wonder if this is a similar situation to the differences in the type of German spoken in Germany vs. that spoken in the Appenzell region of Switzerland. I've heard some STRONG opinions expressed on that point by people in Germany! Cheers!

Posted by
10344 posts

Is there some irony here? French speakers (Quebecois) speaking English in France in order to be better received!

Posted by
2349 posts

Here in the US we have a wide variety of accents, but we can usually understand each other. We can understand Australians and the English and sometimes even the Scottish. ;) Are the French pickier about their language and accents? I've often thought that the reason the French are perceived as rude is because they're still ticked off that French did not become the universal language they thought it would be.

Posted by
1273 posts

I had a Quebecois friend when I was in graduate school in Michigan many years ago and he met a woman from Paris in the graduate dorm and was eager to speak his native French to her. She claimed to have some trouble understanding Claude although he had no trouble understanding her, and she made it clear that her French was superior and more correct than his French.

Posted by
11450 posts

Karen,, some accents and slang can make a language very difficult to understand. You wink about Scottish, but its very true,I can barely make out a thick brogue, and while watching some American tv. my friends have literally looked at each other and skaken our heads,, some regional accents and words make even english unrecognizable to us ( like " he axed me out") really can miss entire sentences. So, yes, I think it is possible to have alot of trouble with same langauges that have evolved differently or have heavy regional slang etc influences. My father( native french) had a very hard time when he met my sons grade 8 french teacher. She was from Trinidad,, and he found her french dreadful, he understood her but its like us listening to say a hillbilly, same langauge as us, but.... She concentrated on conversational french , which I thought was great, but then I soon saw her teaching what I thought of as slang,, and several times explained to my son to "do what the teacher says, but really it is more correct to say...."

Posted by
120 posts

As a French myself I can tell you that in general, we usually consider Quebecois as distant cousins. My hubby even has a cousin who comes to France every other year. There can be a language issue however, with the accent or the vocabulary. If they say "je vais prendre mon char pour aller magaziner" we say je vais prendre la voiture pour aller faire du shopping". They may use American words when we use French and the contrary is also true. In American films translated into French, you can hardly tell when French Canadians are doing the translation but you find out every time they mention a name because they say it so much better than we do! I'm jealous! :)

Posted by
10344 posts

Bonjour Coco, it's good to hear from you on this. We always appreciate hearing from you. Note: Coco has been replying to questions about France for several years now.

Posted by
120 posts

Thank you Kent that is very nice of you. I don't come here very often since I can see Dijon is seldom mentioned unfortunately (Beaune always Beaune!!!) For those who are in France this week end, enjoy the Days of Patrimony wherever you stay! I can't resist to show you a video made by Dijon tourist office, check "Dijon Must Art" on youtube or dailymotion or directly here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w5CojSGoJ4k

Posted by
4555 posts

Coco....then you must come on-line more frequently and educate us about Dijon!! Jo has done a good job for Frankfurt, so there's no reason you can't take the opportunity to let us know about your wonderful city.

Posted by
20 posts

I totally agree that many tourists completely overlook Dijon! Last Fall I was in France and made a two day solo trip to Dijon and absolutely LOVED it. One reason being there were hardly an English-speaking tourists...I am a French fanatic and loved the fact that I didn't hear English for a few days!:) It is a very charming small city. Coco[INVALID]do you have any Dijon reasonably priced hotel suggestions if I were to make another trip? The place I stayed at last time (Hotel du Nord) wasn't the best place...

Posted by
10344 posts

John: They're asleep in France right now, but you just might hear from Coco about accommodations in Dijon.

Posted by
82 posts

Very interesting question! I'm American (and German now too, but that's another post for another time!), and I am fluent in French. I listen to Québécois radio all the time and worked for Canadians, but have also lived in France twice. The second time was right after I worked for a Canadian company who now has their headquarters here in the US, and everyone asked me if I was Québécoise because of my accent. Some people DID make jokes from time to time, but I actually found them funny, and accents fascinate me anyway, so I didn't take offense (usually). To me, it means that I sound like a native French speaker, even though it may also mean that I wasn't assimilating enough to French life. However, being told I sound Québécoise also means I don't have an American accent, so I took it as a compliment. If everyone spoke French the same way, it'd be rather boring (same with English, German, what have you...). Different dialects/accents add variety to any language and should be embraced (rather than looking down upon them).

Posted by
10344 posts

This thread has been an interesting read. Thank you to each person who contributed.

Posted by
120 posts

Bonjour! Norm I would be very pleased to answer questions about Dijon, but even if I like to show my guests a part of the town centre when then arrive so they can get their bearings, I'm not a professional guide! Also this thread about Quebecois is not the best place to do it, then I'll just add briefly : John, I'm happy you had a good time in Dijon but I wonder why "The place you stayed at last time (Hotel du Nord) wasn't the best place..." the rooms look nice and you are next to the main street and sites to see. I can help you in your search of a hotel according to its location and price. A self catering accommodation is an excellent option too! A bientot :)

Posted by
4555 posts

Coco...every time someone asks about Beaune, you can promote Dijon!!

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks, Coco[INVALID]-this year I've decided I'm heading to the Loire (Tours and Chinon) but next year I may return to Dijon and take a side trip to Besancon. (Do you know anything about that town? Hard to find much of anything about it online). Hotel du Nord in Dijon was great in terms of location...I guess it was just a little too 'cookie-cutter' for me (and my room smelled terrible and wasn't the cleanest room I've stayed in). But I didn't go to Dijon to sit in a hotel room...so it wasn't a big deal! Sorry this is so off topic from the original post.

Posted by
9375 posts

This conversation got met thinking about the English language. I once traveled with a group on English speakers from all over the English speaking world[INVALID]the U.S., Canada, England, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. We spent a lot of time not just comparing slang, but common words that are different. Even in the same language, words could not only be different, but pronounced differently depending on which country you're from. And we didn't even get to discussing differences within each country.

Posted by
29 posts

Great [INVALID] Being from English Canada I speak "high school" French which is strictly Parisien. Even had a waiter in Paris a couple of years ago ask me if I was from France. I am sure he was just being "nice" becasue my French is rusty to say the least and there is no way I could hide it. Funniest thing of all though, was last year in Rome, we stayed at a "convent accomodation" in downtown Rome. Great place by the way. The nuns were all from Ireland, so there were also a lot of Irish travellers/visitors staying at the convent as well. My wife and I couldn't understand a word of "English" that they spoke. We all had a good laugh about our troubles conversing in the "same" language.