So far i can say that i have a fair amount of language partners i keep in contact with who reside in both France and few French canadian provinces. When I tell a friend for example, residing in France, about my conversations with my French Canadian friends they seem to heckle me about how Canadians do not speak french correctly and that it is the ‘wrong way’.
Is this a rivalry between the two countries? Or do people in France just think they have the upper hand and that French Canadians do not speak proper french?
Some tend to act so negatively toward the french canadian way of speaking that they tell me to not even learn from them because it is ‘incorrect’ and their accent is very bad. I do not share this way of thinking though, but i would like somewhat of an explanation between this feud that i seem to constantly see.
They definitely have different accents (and even some different pronunciations for some words). Some people prefer the standard (Paris) accent and seem to look down on the Québécois accent. I love them equally, but I’m more familiar with the French spoken in France.
As Americans you could be more interested to learn the Quebec way since you could visit Quebec before you visite Europe. If you do not target french to visit or work with Quebec Do not learn french from Quebec
I am a french speaking Belgian and I can only say that french from Quebec is the worst french I listen to. Their accent makes their french sometime not understandable - when a quebec serie is shown on tv - they had french subtitle. I have to say that working on foreign language mp3 helps a lot to understand more of their talk.
There are many different accents in french (as in all language I suspect) in different countries or even many accents in one country - I can understand easily most of those accents.
Beside accents there are regional expressions.
The only accents which are as worst as Canadian french are some country french people.
French Canadians lose their accent when they are singing.
Pierre, to declare some variety of language as the “worst” because YOU don’t understand it IS chauvanism.
Standard French spoken in Quebec in the serious news media or in professional contexts is just as widely intelligible as French spoken in the same contexts in France. On the other hand, nonstandard varieties, to those who are not used to them, are equally unintelligible. There is nothing inherently worse about non-standard Quebec French than about Ch’tis.
I wouldn’t advise any learner of general French to concentrate on any kind of non-standard French, whether it is Quebecois jouale, or Ch’tis. Nor would I single out Quebecois jouale as somehow the “worst” for this purpose.
But I have had this conversation so many times with Euro French that I think it is ingrained too deeply in their emotions for any logical argument to make a difference.
To get the flavour of Quebecois French as it is spoken in the street try
In my view, the Quebecois are a little self-conscious of the most colloquial version of the French you hear in Quebec, but most educated Quebecois tend to speak a “neutral French” , at least the ones that I meet out here in Vancouver, and it is not difficult to understand at all. That is what you hear on TV except for comedies, like tetes a claques, where you get the full flavour of “jouale” which I find warm, friendly and funny, like the Quebecois.
Being Québécois myself, I can’t entirely disagree with anyone saying that there is no use in learning about Québec French if there is no reason to. After all, I don’t “have” to seek out Austrian German, Argentinian Spanish or, I don’t know, Kansaiben, if there is no reason to, except perhaps that it’s always interesting to remain aware of what’s out there and have some exposure to various accents and dialects.
It’s true that the Québécois are often self-conscious about their spoken language, and who wouldn’t be after hearing Europeans say that they find our language to be “the worst”. But of course, this isn’t true of everyone and a lot of people are proud of who they are and how they speak, just as there are lots of Europeans who find Québec French pleasant, charming, etc.
Take a step back and QF is just as valid a language form as Scottish English, Marseille French, Kyoto Japanese, Letzeburgisch, or any other language variant.
The main reason some European francophones find the Québécois hard to understand is the lack of exposure. But one can’t deny that there are also grammatical differences that make the language hard to understand at first, at least in its most popular form.
What find distasteful is the knee jerk snobbism from Euro French.
Quebecois is a dialect. There are many Euro French dialects such as Ch’tis. An educated Ch’tis speaker’s standard French is just as effective as the educated Quebecois speaker’s French for purposes of learning.
It’s eventually starts to get blurry – the settlers of the Nouvelle-France were from a region mostly North-West of Paris (including Picardie) and Parisian French only later became the dominant variety of French in France. Actually, Ch’ti and French are dialects of the langue d’oïl, to be technical…
Chti French and Marseille French don’t differ that much. It’s just the accent and some words that are different. French as it is spoken in Europe, and even in Africa, is very homogeneous. Typically you’ll find local words here and there, and some people will have a weird accent, but it’s the “same French”.
Québecois on the other hand is quite different in terms of pronunciation, use of words and intonation. Not just the accent. In France we’re not used to hearing it - I mean the language, because there are quite a few Quebecer singers that are famous here and therefore we know how the accent sounds like. From the few videos I’ve watched on the Internet, I gather that I’d have a hard time understanding a movie in Québecois.
There may be some snobbism, but because Quebécois doesn’t sound serious to us. It doesn’t happen with North African people speaking French, although they have a recognisable accent too. The case of Belgian French is different, they do have (some of them) an accent that makes us smile because it has been parodied so many times… If you want to make a whole room laugh, just bring a Belgian with a strong accent.
Quebecer newsreaders sound like they are performing sketches in their studio. The way they speak, the words they use… it’s weird, and aesthetically speaking, you’d better speak with a thick German accent than in Québecois. What PierreM said is what many people - at least almost everybody I know - think. It’s not nastiness towards Quebecers or anything, it’s just cultural. But as long as you don’t want to become a newsreader or a CEO in Europe, I think it doesn’t matter.
Maybe Brazilian Portuguese sounds the same to Portuguese. European Portuguese is often said to sound more formal, and I hardly believe that I’m listening to a president’s speech whenever I hear Dilma Roussef. I like both Portuguese though and Brazilian Portuguese is fine for me as I don’t plan on becoming the president of a Portuguese speaking country.
I think the Quebecois have a saying that Parisian French sounds like someone talking out of the backside of a chicken… but the point stands that the standard French of Quebec and Paris are intelligible. The difference is mainly the attitude of the Euro French, in my opinion.
Most of the people who live in the North of France don’t speak like that. They possibly did 50 years ago, but native speakers now are a tiny minority. They do use some expressions or some specific words sometimes, but other than that they speak a “standard” French. That’s what I meant. I shouldn’t have used Chti French but rather “French-as-it-is-spoken-in-the-North-of-the-country”. That’s a bit longer.