History of Quebec French

Areas of French Colonization

Quebec French is different in vocabulary and pronunciation to the French of Europe and France’s Second Empire colonies in Asia and Africa.

Similar alterations took place in the Portuguese, English, and Spanish language of the Americas concerning European dialects, but in the case of French, the separation grew by the decline in cultural contacts with France after the Treaty of Paris in which France submitted Canada to Great Britain.

Although pronunciations like toé and moé are today stigmatized (joual), they were the Early Modern French’s pronunciation used by France’s kings, the nobility, and the ordinary people in many territories of France.

After the conclusion of the French Revolution, the standard pronunciation in France transformed to that of the middle-class in Paris. Still, Quebec retained some expressions and pronunciations shared with modern Oïl languages such as Gallo, Norman, Poitevin, Picard, and Saintongeais. Speakers of those languages of France prevailed among the settlers of New France. Thus, they spoke a famous language that was primarily shared with Paris. Still, they had their own words, habits, and pronunciations that were unknown in Paris, which are now part of Quebec’s language.

Quebec French was also inspired by the French spoken by the King’s Daughters, who was of the petit-bourgeois class from the Paris region (Île-de-France) and Normandy.

Thus, the 18th-century bourgeois Parisian French ultimately became the national, regulated language of France after the fierce French Revolution, but the French of the Ancien Régime kept unfolding in Canada. Indeed, the French said in Canada is closer phonetically and idiomatically to Belgian French, despite their sovereign evolution and the comparatively small number of Belgian settlers to Quebec (although it is to be recognized that the Walloon language’s influence in Belgium has evolved the language in the same way as the presence of the Quebec’s Oïl speakers).

There is also the indisputable fact that Canadian-French speakers have lived alongside and among English speakers ever since the inception of the British rule in 1763. Thus, visible anglicisms in Quebec French tend to be rather longstanding and part of a natural yet gradual process of borrowing, but the independent anglicisms in European French are nearly all much more recent and sometimes driven by fashions and fads.

New France

The French language was permanently installed in North America with the establishment of Quebec City by Samuel de Champlain in the early 16th Century. However, after creating the Sovereign Council of New France in 1663, the colonies started to grow.

Between 1627 and 1660, a few thousand colonists arrive in New France, either in Canada or Acadia. The regions that added the most to these migrations were France’s western and northern regions. The migrants came from Aunis, Normandy, Brittany, Perche, Île-de-France, Poitou, Paris, Saintonge, Anjou, and Maine, most of those being territories where French was rarely spoken at the time..

According to Philippe Barbaud (1984), the first colonists were, therefore, mostly non-francophone except for the emigrants from the Paris area, who most likely vocalized a traditional form of French; and the subsequent dialect clash produced the linguistic union of Quebec. Among the speakers of Picard, Norman, Poitevin, Aunis, and Saintongeais, and Breton (the Celtic language), many might have learned French as a second language. Slowly, a linguistic shift towards French occurred, leading to the linguistic combination of all the ethnic groups arriving from France.

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