Keep in mind that I am AWARE that there are other “types” of French (Morocco, Belgium, Acadia etc.), but it seems that these two are compared the most. I am living with two roommates from France (Grenoble and Paris) and one from Québec (Québec City). In this post, I’m writing from more of a “Québec perspective.”
What are the differences between the French in Québec and French in France?
In written form, the both regions of French are generally the same. The only difference I recall is that Québec requires spacing before a colon, while the French in France (and most of Europe) requires spacing between the question mark, and the semi-colon too. I learned this after switching the layout of my keyboard to that from France (French keyboard, not the French Canadian keyboard). One of its notable differences is the switch of the “q” and “a” keys. I’ve tried both the French keyboard layout and the French Canadian keyboard layout, and both are significantly different (I’ll explore that in another post).
Another thing I’ve notice is that there are more feminine forms of a profession. You would see something like, “une ministre” in Québec, but ONLY “un ministre” in France. It’s nice to see that Québec made an effort to eliminate the man/woman inequality aspect in the work environment.
Québec also has a STRONG tendency to translate EVERYTHING to French. Normally, you’d think that it’s normal; it isn’t in France. In Québec, they have their infamous store sign laws. The restaurants must display what they offer in French, despite having a “nom propre” (their own, unique name). A well known example for this, is McDonald’s. In France, a person orders their McNuggets as… McNuggets. However in Québec, they call them “McCroquettes”. The people in Québec are more likely to come up with a French version of something that’s international, while the people from France would simply use its English name.
Sometimes I find this a bit weird but overall, I think it’s cool. They’re trying to maintain their culture despite the (indirect — not in a hostile manner) pressure from other provinces to assimilate. And in all honestly, why would you want that? If you ever travel to Québec from any other province, you’d see that it’s like visiting a totally different country. Pretty amazing from the neighbouring Ontario (where I’m from)!
It goes without saying that the accent is one the most noticeable differences between the two languages. The accent of Québec is less fluid than that of France (in my opinion). I assume that this is taken from the Canadian-English influence. It’s a bit rough (in contrast), and the stress on syllables are more sporadic. The accent of France is more on the monotone side, and the stresses are found usually at the end of a phrase (sometimes in the beginning).
I can’t decide which accent I like more. In the beginning, I was more fond of the accent from France but now, I’m finding the accent of Québec to be much more unique. It’s unfortunate because I can’t understand the Québec accent very well. Either way… I have nothing to worry about since I’m here for 8 months!
And of course, the two cultures both have their own idioms, vocabulary, slang and whatnot… but hold on there! I’ve been posting every day so I won’t put all my eggs in one basket (notice the clever use of using our own unique expression…I’m cool, I swear…). In other words, I’ll save that for later and write up a post on expressions and idioms for next time!
But those are the main differences I’ve noticed. If you guys notice anything yourselves that is unique about the two cultures, let me know with a comment!