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Let’s go fishing… and learn hard-core French while you’re at it! – Post 2 of 6 (#324)

SERIES:  COLLOQUIAL (SPOKEN) FRENCH – HARD-CORE LEARNING EXERCISE (6 POSTS)

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The last post had the hosts at Radio-X set up the scenario for receiving fishing stories.  This time we’ll get right into the stories.

I’ve ranked them with varying degrees of difficulty based on

  • the vocabulary being used
  • the accents being used (you’ll notice at least three different regional accents in these six posts, all from Eastern Québec).
  • the speed and rhythm with which the callers are speaking.

Despite the language difficulties, these posts should be  reassuring to Anglophone Canadians.  As you go through these learning exercises, you will notice that direct equivalents exist in colloquial Canadian-Québécois French for things which are said in colloquial Canadian English.

This is often not the case with French from Europe.

I’m not referring to “anglicismes” or “calques”, but rather I’m referring to the syntax or expressions which are signs that Anglophones and Francophones in Canada seem to have the same visual and lexical thought process when choosing how to say things (I believe that it shows we culturally share much of the same mental thought process when choosing our words).

Yet, I find if one were to express the same circumstances using European French, from a syntax and situational context, the way it would be expressed would be very different — and the FEEL would be completely different (whereas the feel would be culturally much the same for Canadian Francophones and Anglophones).

The thought process in Europe (ie: how people run through scenarios in their mind as they’re searching for words) sometimes can be culturally different.

This is one reason I have always advised Anglophone Canadians to take the easier route and to learn their own version of French than the European version of French.

It is also for this reason that it is better to learn Canadian French if most interactions will be with Canadian French speakers (and not with Europe).  You’ll be able to better relate to others, and others will be better able to relate to you (if no other viewpoint, than on a peer-to-peer level, not to mention any subconscious mutual understanding and acceptance as kin).

Some people say “When in Rome…”.  Yet in this case it should be “When in North America…”.

Colloquial difficulty level:  2

Difficulty levels 2

cc

Caller

  • 0:00 – Oui, bonjour!
  • Yes, Hello!

Host

  • 0:01 – Bonjour
  • Hello

Caller

  • 0:02 – Oui, j’ai une histoire de pêche à vous conter.
  • Yes, I have a fishing story to tell you.

Host

  • 0:04 – On vous écoute.
  • We’re listening.

Caller

  • 0:05 – Alors, moi chu partie à la pêche avec mon père. Et puis, on allait régulièrement à cette rivière.  Et pis le canot est toujours là, prêt.  Pis il est à l’envers sur le bord.  On le pousse.  On décolle.  Chacun, mon père au bout, il est assez agé.  Pis moi, ben, je pousse le canot, pis on décolle
  • So, I went fishing with my dad. And then we regularly went to this river.  And the canoe is always there, ready.  And it’s sitting upside down on the bank.  We pushed.  We were off.  Each, My dad was at the end, he’s rather up there in age.  And me, well, I pushed the canoe, and we were off.
  • 0:26 – Pis j’ai ma flotte. Pis, tout à coup je m’aperçois qu’il fait chaud un petit peu.  Fait-que j’enlève ma flotte, j’enlève ma veste, je remets ma flotte.  Je prends ma veste, je le mets dans le point du canot.  Qu’est ce qui sort du point du canot?  Une couleuvre. 
  • And me, I had my lifejacket. And all of a sudden I realized that it was a bit hot out.  So I took off my lifejacket, I took off my vest, and I put my lifejacket back on.  I took my vest, I put it in the tip of the canoe.  What came out of the tip?  A garter snake.

Host

  • 0:39 – Oh! Ok, pis vous autres, vous trippez pas là-dessus. 
  • Oh! Ok, and you guys, you aren’t so hot on that idea.

Caller

  • 0:41 – Euh, ben, la couleuvre je l’ai pas aimé mettons. Là, je lâche la rame.  La rame est rendue dans la chute.  Je décolle, en tout cas.  Je m’en vas (instead of « vais ») trouver mon père dans le point du bateau.  Là, il était plus pesant dans le bord, fait-que.  Pis là, mon père criait « Tu vas nous noyer! ». 
  • Uh, well, let’s just say that I didn’t like the garter snake. So there, I threw the oar.  The oar ended up in the housing rings.  I pushed off at any rate.  I went for my dad in the end of the boat.  So there, it was heavier on the side.  So my dad yelled “you’re going to drown us!”

Host

  • 1:01 – Vous avez manqué de suivre votre père.  Vous avez manqué de noyer votre père. 
  • You didn’t end up following your dad in. You didn’t end up drowing your dad.

Caller

  • 1:04 – On a manqué se noyer finalement.
  • We didn’t drown in the end.

Host

  • 1:06 – Aw aw aw aw… Ç’a bien fini?
  • Aw aw aw aw… It ended well?

Caller

  • 1:08 – Ç’a bien fini, oui. Une belle pêche quand-même.  Mais on fait toujours ça des belles pêches.  Mais les couleuvres, c’est pas mon fort dans le bateau. 
  • Yes, it finished well. It was good fishing anyway.  But we always have a good time fishing.  But garter snakes, I don’t get off on them in the boat.

Host

  • 1:15 – Eh, Merci d’avoir appelé. Bonne journée!
  • Hey, Thanks for calling. Have a good day!

Caller

  • 1:16 – Bonne journée.
  • Have a good day.

Host

  • 1:17 – Bye bye.

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SERIES:  COLLOQUIAL (SPOKEN) FRENCH – HARD-CORE LEARNING EXERCISE (6 POSTS)

Let’s go fishing… and learn hard-core French while you’re at it! – Post 1 of 6 (#323)

SERIES:  COLLOQUIAL (SPOKEN) FRENCH – HARD-CORE LEARNING EXERCISE (6 POSTS)

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The last few posts which combined some language learning exercises garnered some pretty high traffic.

I guess that means that a good chunk of people found them interesting or useful to study spoken French.

Those could be considered rather straight forward in the sense that post #321’s conversation was rather short (even if it was colloquial / verbal), or in a controlled interview, such as in the case of post #322.

Regardless, such exercises give you a perspective and an opportunity to learn French as it is spoken in every day speech.

Textbook French only gets you so far.   The true key is if you can put yourself in a situation where you have to use your French, you understand what is going on around you, and you can follow it enough to respond.

In the next few posts, I’m going to give you the opportunity to practice your listening skills, to learn some colloquial (oral) French vocabulary as it is spoken in everyday situations, and to challenge yourself a little.

I’m going to provide you with six texts, each with a different level of difficulty.   I’ll rank them for you on a scale of one to six.

Because there is quite a bit of work involved in putting these together, I won’t be able to do them every day.  But I will do my best to put one together every couple of days.

Also, I UNDERLINED some very colloquial words and expressions which might be of particular interest.

SCENARIO:  This past long weekend I spent some down-time doing some camping, and some friends went fishing.  on the way home, I was listening to Radio-X in the car (a very well known talk radio station).  The coincidentally were talking about fishing stories.

I obtained clips from the show, edited them, added subtitles, and am presenting them to you with translated texts.   I feel they provide you with the real-deal on how people speak to each other in French using relaxed, everyday colloquial French — at least on this side of the Atlantic, in Québec, and across Canada.

This first clip introduces what’s about to come with the real fishing stories (the subjects of the next few posts).

Lets dive into it.

Colloquial Difficulty Level:  1

Difficulty levels 1cc

Host A :

  • 0:00 – Ça fait toujours réagir quand on parle de chasse et pêche ici sur nos ondes. Beaucoup de chasseurs sont à l’écoute, et beaucoup de pêcheurs.
  • It always gets a reaction when we talk on air about hunting and fishing. Many hunters are listening, as are many fishermen/women

Host B :

  • 0:07 – Oui. C’est la saison. 
  • It’s the season.

Host A :

  • 0:09 – Mais pas de la chasse, par exemple. Il n’y a pas plus grande chose à chasser à ce temps de l’année.  Vous autres, les gars, vous n’avez jamais pêché?
  • Well, not for hunting. There isn’t much to hunt at this time of the year.  You, you guys, you’ve never fished before?

Host B :

  • 0:16 – J’étais supposé aller pêcher avec mon propriétaire, qui est le cousin à Véronique Bergeron, pis il avait dit…
  • I was supposed to go fishing with my landlord.  I told you he’s Véronique Bergeron’s cousin.

Host A :

  • 0:23 – “Je vous sors”, Véro c’est une pêcheuse aussi.
  • “I’ll take you out”… Vero is also a fisherwoman.

Host B :

  • Ben oui
  • Of course

Host A :

  • 0:26 – Parlant de filles qui font de la chasse et de la pêche,
  • Speaking of women/girls who hunt and fish, well

Host B :

  • 0:29 – Je me demande, elle est supposée prendre son permis de port d’arme…
  • I wonder, she is supposed to get her firearm holder’s permit…

Host A :

  • Ouais
  • Yup

Host B :

  • 0:33 – … pour aller à la chasse. Mais c’est une grande pêcheuse, Véro.  Pis mon propriétaire m’avais dit « On va aller pêcher le soir.  On va se faire du fish ‘n chip.  On va cuisiner tout ça avec une bonne bouteille de vin.
  • … to be able to hunt. But Vero, there’s a big fisherwoman.  And my landlord has always said to me “We’re going to go fishing tonight.  We’ll make some fish ‘n chips.  We’ll cook it all up with a good bottle of wine.”

Host A :

  • 0:44 – T’étais prêt .
  • And you were like ready to do it.

Host B :

  • 0:45 – J’étais prêt. J’étais cranké.  Et quand on était dans la voiture, on allait mettre du gaz dans le bateau.  Mais la température et des vagues de 3 pieds dur le fleuve, fait-que c’était vraiment pas idéale
  • I was ready. I was all geared up / on my mark / cranked up.  And when we were in the car, we were all ready to put gas in the boat.   But those temperatures and the 3 foot waves on the river… it made it so that it really wasn’t ideal.

Host A :

  • 0:55 – Les conditions intactes.
  • The conditions lined up.

Host B :

  • 0:56 – Les conditions étaient absentes. Non, non.  C’était vraiment sur le fleuve là.   Donc on a oublié le projet.  Mais il y avait quand-même du bon poison.  Fait-qu’on s’est fait pareille du fish ‘n chip, mais sans avoir été sur le fleuve.  La seule fois chu allé pêcher, dans un petit lac quand j’étais jeune, avec mes parents.  C’était à l’Île d’Orléans.  Pis moi, la seule fois que j’ai swingé la channe à pêche, c’était comme dans les cartoons. 
  • The conditions were not there. No, no.  It was all that on the riverSo we simply forgot our project.  But we still had good fish, even without having gone on the river.   The only time I’ve gone fishing, it was in a little lake when I was young, with my parents.  It was on Orleans Island.  And me, the only time I swung a fishing rod, I ended up looking like a cartoon.

Host A :

  • 1:17 – Tu l’as accroché par le col en arrière!
  • You hooked / caught the back of your collar!

Host B :

  • 1:19 – Pas loin! Ou c’était… j’ai vraiment swingé!
  • Pretty close! Where it was sitting, I really was swinging!

Host A :

  • 1:23 – À deux bras?
  • With both arms?

Host B :

  • 1:24 – Comme dans les cartoons!
  • Like in the cartoons!

Host A :

  • 1:25 – Ouais? C’est dangereux, .   Ça, je sais panoute, mais il y avait du monde autour?
  • Really? Like, that’s dangerous.  Ya know, I have no idea, but there was nobody around you?

Host B :

  • 1:29 – Non, non! Mais c’était « Fuck! Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa! ».  Je veux pas ça de mêmeFait-que c’est la seule expérience que j’ai, de pêche, dans ma vie.  C’était une expérience qui a complètement tombé à l’eau.  Et l’autre expérience, que c’était pas super fameux.  J’étais trop jeune pour m’en souvenir .
  • No, No! But I was like « Shit!  Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!”  I’m not hot on thatSo it’s the only experience I have, with fishing, in my whole life.  It was an experience which totally fell through.  And the other experience, it wasn’t so hot  I was like too young to remember it.

Host A :

  • 1:48 – , t’as comme jamais pêché. T’es jamais allé à Costco.
  • So like, you’ve never fished, and you’ve never been to Costco (Costco is a running joke between the hosts).

Host B :

  • 1:52 – Je ne suis jamais allé à Costco.
  • I’ve never been to Costco.

Host A :

  • 1:54 – Mais t’as pas ta carte de membre.
  • Well, you don’t have your member’s card.

Host B :

  • 1:55 – Je n’ai pas ma carte de membre.
  • I don’t have a member’s card.

Host A :

  • 1:56 – D’ailleurs là, salutations à ton père, qui était à l’écoute, et qui t’a envoyé une preuve d’amour. Il t’aime quand-même.
  • By the way, hi to your dad who was listening and who sent you a few words of love. He loves you regardless.

Host B :

  • 2:01 – Il m’a texté, et je cite : « Ben oui, je t’aime mon garçon. »
  • He sent a text, and I quote “Oh yes, I love you son”.

Host A :

  • 2:06 – Ça me rassure.
  • That makes me feel better (in the sense of being reassured).

Host B :

  • 2:06 – Oui, ça me rassure, moi aussi.
  • Yes, that makes me feel better too.

Host A :

  • 2:07 – Ouais, de bon moments.
  • Yup, beautiful moments.

Host B :

  • 2:09 – Mais il n’y avait pas de lol, ni de bonhomme clin d’œil, fait-que je ne sais pas si c’était sarcastique.
  • But there was no lol, no winking man, so I don’t know if it was sarcastic.

Host A :

  • 2:13 – Ah, ok. Toi tu penses que ça pourrait pas être vrai. 
  • Oh, ok. Tu think it wasn’t sincere.

Host B :

  • 2:16 – Non, je ne pense pas que mon père est assez développé, technologie texto, pour faire des bonhommes sourire encore.
  • Non, I don’t think my dad is with it enough, regarding texting technology, to be able to send smiling men.

Host A :

  • 2:20 – Oh ya ya. Écoutes, un jour ça viendra.  Et quoi de mieux que d’aller au Costco avant un voyage de pêche.  Ça là, c’est comme, c’est comme Noël.
  • Oh man. Listen, one day you get it.  And what’s better than going to Costco than a fishing trip.  And once there, it’s like, it’s like Christmas.

Host B :

  • 2:29 – Tu sais, quand tu joins l’utile à l’agréable
  • Ya know, when you combine usefulness and likeable together…

Host A :

  • 2:31 – La gang de boys qui débarque au Costco pour faire l’épicerie avant le voyage de pêche , pis là tu sais que c’est le lendemain, il y a comme une effervescence… Toi Alex, toi non plus tu n’étais jamais aller pêcher?
  • The group of guys who head off to to Costco to do their grocery shopping before, like, a fishing trip, and you know that the next day, it’s like riding on cloud nine…. You Alex, you neither have never been fishing?

Host C :

  • 2:41 – La chasse, zéro fois, pis la pêche ça se compte su’les doigts de la main. J’aimais mes expériences, mais je ne sais pas pourquoi ç’a jamais vraiment donné que j’aille à la pêche et au camping, ou des choses comme ça.   Si ça se compte, c’était peut-être à trois ou quatre fois que je suis allé à la pêche de même.
  • Hunting, not once, and fishing I can count the number of times on one hand. I liked the times I had done it, but I don’t know why, but it never quite fit me to go fishing or camping, or anything like that.  If I count, it was maybe three or four times that I’ve been fishing like that.

Host A :

  • 2:54 – Je pense qu’on est dû, les gars, pour vous donner un peu d’expérience par procuration. D’après moi, on est dans un cas de spotted
  • I think it’s about time, guys, to let you live a little vicarious experience. In my opinion, we’re in a situation of having been caught with our pants down / being able to identify / bring to the fore / highlighting things…

Host B :

  • 3:01 – Parce que des histoires de pêche, il y en a. Regarde, mon propriétaire, chaque fois que je le croise en partant de chez nous , y a toujours une histoire de pêche à me conterPis c’est minimum une demi-heure par histoire de pêche
  • Because when it comes to fishing stories, there certainly are those. Look, my landlord, each time I cross paths with him when I like leave our place, he always has a fishing story to tell meAnd it’s like a minimum half hour per story for fishing.

Host A :

  • 3:13 – Mais , je veux des histoires de pêche, de chasse, avec un « H » majuscule. Pas des histoires de pêche « Aw, j’en ai poingé une grosse de même, pis… ». 
  • But like, I want fishing stories, hunting stories with a capital « H » (for “H”ell). I don’t want to hear fishing stories which go like “Aw, I got such a big one and …”

Host B :

  • 3:21 – Non, non, des vraies histoires. Parce qu’il y en a toujours des histoires, des bateaux qui partent à la dérive quand on est au chaletUne petite raconte « Ouais, j’ai oublié d’attacher le bateau ».  Pis le bateau s’en va, pis t’es obligé d’aller nager.
  • No, no, give us real stories. Because there are always stories, like boats which go off on their own when we’re at the cabinHere’s a little story, “Yup, I forgot to tie up the boat…”.  And off the boat went, and you had to go swimming.

Host A :

  • 3:33 – Mais t’arriverais à un moment donner. On allait dans un chalet, mais tu sais, spotted, chasse et pêche, chalet :  670-9098, 1-877-440-2464, et il y a toujours le « live » à Radiox.com.   Je sais qu’il y a ben de gens qui dans leur première semaine de vacances de la construction sont allés dans des chalets, sont allés pêcher, sont allés faire un peu de plein air, et plus souvent qu’autrement il y a des histoires d’alcool, de boisson. 
  • Well, we’ll get to you at a certain point. You went to a cabin, and you know, caught with your pants down, hunting, fishing, and cabins:   670-9098, 1-877-440-2464, and there’s always “live” at Radiox.com.  I know there are many out there in their first week of construction vacations who went to cabins, fishing, who went to take in a bit of the great outdoors, and who more often than not have stories involving alcohol, of drinking. 
  • 4:02 – Il ne faut pas que ça tombe mal, mettons. Il ne faut pas que ça tombe mal ces histoires-là.  Mais, mettons que des fois il y a des trucs quand-même assez cocasse qui se passe quand tu t’en vas à la pêche.  Pis souvent, ce n’est pas pour être sexiste, mais souvent t’sais, c’est les boys, y vont à la pêche pis il y a toujours un paquet d’histoires.  Moi j’avais déjà oublié d’attacher le pédalo au chalet.  Pis le chalet était devant la rivière.  Fait-que calcul-le comme tu veux. 
  • It doesn’t have to end badly, let’s say. These stories doesn’t have to end badly.  But, let’s say that sometimes there are things which can yet be wacky enough which can happen when you go fishing.  And often, it’s not to be sexist, but often, ya know, it’s the guys, they go fishing and there are always a ton of stories.   Me, I even forgot to tie up the water-cycle to the cabin.  And the cabin was in front of the river.  I’ll leave it to you go guess what happened.

Host B :

  • 4:26 – Bye-bye pédalo.
  • Bye-bye water-cycle.

Host A :

  • 4:28 – Il aurait fallu remorquer le pédalo. Il était rendu comme 500 pieds plus loin poigné dans des roches.  C’était pas ma meilleure celle-là.  OK, les lignes sont pleines.  Je pense que vous nous avez des histoires à nous raconter.   Spotted, chasse et pêche, plein air, ou appelez ça comme vous voulez.  Peut-être sauf une fois au chalet, aussi ça peut entrer dans cette catégorie-là.  On s’en va au téléphone.   Allô, Radio-X…
  • We had to tow the water-cycle. It went 500 feet down and go caught on the rocks.  I wasn’t at my best with that one.  OK, the lines are lit up.  I think we’re going to have stories for you.  Caught with your pants down, hunting and fishing, great outdoors, or call us about whatever.  Except for that “one time” at the cabin, that can also enter into that category.  Ok, let’s get to the calls.  Hello, Radio-X…

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SERIES:  COLLOQUIAL (SPOKEN) FRENCH – HARD-CORE LEARNING EXERCISE (6 POSTS)

RadioEGO – Québec’s audio equivalent of a “Talk-radio YouTube” (#267)

This post can help to provide you with additional audio material if :

  1. You are looking for various opinion-pieces to help round out your views about what many people are talking about in Québec, and
  1. If you are learning French, working to improve your French, or are are looking to improve your comprehension of (a) informal French, (b) Joual, (c) street expressions, (d) every-day colloquial accents.

RadioEGO (Ego Radio) is a website which accepts and collates submissions of short radio segments and interviews from around Québec’s world of radio – be it mainstream professional radio stations, or amateur web-based “radio” stations.   The segments are made available for everyone to listen to.

In this sense, RadioEGO could be the equivalent of a “Québec Radio YouTube”.

The website is http://www.radioego.com/

When you open the main page, you will notice it is divided into three sections.   You can chose segments from any of the three sections.   There is also a “search” option for any topic of your choice (just like YouTube).  You can open additional pages at the bottom of each of the three main sections.

Radio EGO

If you search for “culture”, for example, you will get a ton of segments.  The results can be quite varied (ie: an interview with the minister of culture, or a segment about a cut in funding to a music conservatory, or perhaps a segment about a summer concert, etc.).  The same goes for any type of topic search.

A growing number of people have started their own “amature” radio stations – and they turn to RadioEGO as a platform on which to post various segments of their radio programs.

There are also other people who are well-known to the public (such as the columnist and blogger Joanne Marcotte) who are regularly invited guests on mainstream radio stations (such as Québec City’s CHOI FM), and who also post their radio-segments on RadioEGO’s website.

Certain mainstream radio stations, such as talk radio Radio9 in Montréal, talk radio CHOI FM (Radio X) in Québec City, 93FM (Québec City), CKOI FM (Montréal) will also post segments of their radio programs (there are other mainstream radio stations which also post their segments)

What is good about this website is that you can sift through tons of radio segments to listed precise topics of interest.

Example:  Let’s say you’ve been following the Parti Québécois leadership race… you may find the radio interviews of Pierre Karle Péladeau, Bernard Drainville, or Alexandre Cloutier to be of interest (all three were leadership contenders).  The audio segments have self-evident titles “Interview with Alexandre Cloutier” or “PKP” or “Drainville”.   The date is provided, as well as the number of other people who have listened to the audio clip (ie:  if you see that 3500 other people have listened to the clip in the last week, chances are that the clip is much more interesting than one which was listened to by only 15 listeners).

Topics are all over the map:  Politics, sports, society, and economics – you name it.

A WORD OF CAUTION:  The contributors are radio columnists/opinion-makers.   None of the programs are to be considered unbiased or objective (although you will run across some interviews and programs which try to bring a more balanced approach).   The website is open to all who wish to contribute their radio programs and segments, but the tendency is that programs are most often a bit towards the right (although there are programs / segments which are a bit more in the centre, and sometimes further on the left end of the spectrum).

With that said, I think there is still something for everyone.  I’m a firm believer that it’s always good to listen to all points of view from all over the spectrum.   That’s how you round out and form your own views, thus allowing you to feel better informed and more comfortable in your own viewpoints.

Bonne écoute !!!

A brief history of France’s former languages, and how they helped to shape our French in Canada (#217)

Not long ago I came across two well-made YouTube videos.  One offers samples of France’s 28 different accents.  The other offers samples of 45 languages which are native to France — from the three major French language groups.

In a nutshell, French(as we know it today) is a relatively young language.  It was based in part on languages / dialects which existed in regions in and around Paris for centuries.  Modern French came about when it took elements from the languages / dialects of the Paris area, as well as a number of other nearby and closely related dialects.  In broad terms, they became mixed together in a big language stew, and voilà! — Modern French was born, primarily in the 1600s & 1700s.   (This is an oversimplified summary of what happened – but that’s basically it in a nutshell).

When I use the word “dialect” or “language”, my choice of words is a question of semantics.  Here I’ll use the word “language” (instead of “dialects”) because speakers of many of the dialects referred to in this post would not have necessarily been able understand one another (which is a characteristic of what constitutes separate languages).

Prior to the birth of Modern French (in the 1600s & 1700s), all the languages which existed in the Northern half of France were descended from a “super-group” of languages called the Languages of Oïl (les langues d’oïl).  These 20+ languages existed for roughly 1,500 years, well into the 1700s — at which point modern French began to supersede and replace them.

ld.1

Even though the Languages of Oïl were related, if you were to travel across Northern France in the year 600, 1000, 1500 or even 1700, you would have possibly traveled through 20 different language zones.  Likely you would not have been able to understand the locals as you crossed from one language zone to another (at that time in history, French was not the common every-day language of France).   However, when French began to supersede these other languages, French spread beyond Paris to the outlying regions, and the government began to forcefully suppress (basically wipe-out through forced assimilation) all the regional languages.

A very similar phenomenon existed in the Southern half of France.  Whereas the related languages of the North fell under the umbrella of the Languages of Oïl, in Southern France, there was a different group of many related languages called the Occitan Languages.

A region of Eastern France also had a separate grouping of languages called the Franco-Provençal (or Arpitan) Languages. 

Unlike the Oïl Languages, the Occitan and Franco-Provençal languages did not contribute as much to the formation of Modern French (if you listen to recordings of the Occitan & Franco-Provincial languages, they sound very different from French – with sounds and pronunciations much closer to Italian, Latin, Catalan and Spanish — whereas the Oïl Languages have sounds and pronunciations much more related to Modern French).

Also, just like the other Oïl Languages, the Occitan and Franco-Provençal languages were forcefully repressed by the government, starting in the 1700s, and replaced by Modern French.

Although all these languages of France were wiped out over the course of 300+ years, the inhabitants of each language region retained many different accents which can be associated with the original languages.  Thus, as you travel throughout France today, you will hear many different French accents, sometimes very different from one another.

What I find extremely interesting is that there are still some individuals in France who still speak the former regional languages.  Depending on the language, their numbers can be quite small.  Native speakers are often senior citizens, and some languages may have almost no speakers left (with the only remnants existing only in old audio recordings made 40 to 90 years ago).

How this fits into Canada’s style of French:

In the 1600s and 1700s, the original settlers to Ontario and Québec brought with them the languages of the Paris region (at least how it was spoken in Paris at that time – which is different from how it is spoken in Paris today).  The Parisian language was the main language spoken in New France (the French colonies of North America), but there were significant numbers of other Languages from France such as Norman, Saintogeais, and Gallo.  Settlers also came from other areas in the Northwest and North-central parts of France.   Paris’ language became the standard norm in Québec and Ontario in the 1600s and 1700s, but it carried heavy language influences from other regions of Northwestern and North-central France as people mixed and added their own linguistic nuances to the overall pot.  It was this mixing of Northern France medieval languages which gives us our way of speaking French in Canada today.

Consequently, there are two major forms of French in Canada today (each with many varieties of accents and colloquialisms).

  1. One grouping covers Québec, Ontario, the Prairie Provinces (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta) and British Columbia.  This is also the dominant style in the media (owing to the fact that Montréal is the epicentre of Canada’s Francophone media).  It is based on a much broader mix of old languages and accents which came from France.
  2. Conversely, in Canada’s Easternmost provinces we find Acadia (the provinces of New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador).  The original French settlers to Acadia in 1605 (and those who continued to come up until the 1700s) came from narrower, more localized regions of France.  In France, they came from regions a bit further South than the settlers who went to Québec and Ontario.  But the Acadian settlers were still from the Northern Half of France and the still spoke languages of Oïl.   Because the settlers spoke different Oïl languages than those who went to Québec and Ontario, Acadia ended up speaking a different style of French — a unique style which is still spoken as the main type of French in our Atlantic provinces today (called Acadian French).

The YouTube recordings:

Someone went to a good deal of work in creating the following YouTube videos, and making them publicly available for our viewing and listening.  They found and put together a collage of sound recordings of 28 accents throughout France, and 45 of the languages of France.

  • France’s 28 accents from all regions of France: 

In this first video, see if you can hear aspects of accents in Northern and Northeast France which share some traits with Canadian French accents.   There are some shared traits – and it is quite intriguing to listen to.

Pay particular attention to the Charentes (Saintonge)”, “Nord-Picardie (Thiérache)”, “Orléanais (Blésois)”, andPoitou (Deux-Sèvres)”, accents.   Sound familiar???  —  I especially find the Charentes (Saintonge) accent to be quite interesting – but all of them are very interesting (I’m thinking out loud here… When I listen to the above accents, I certainly can hear accents which share definite traits with those of Québec’s North-Coast,  Gaspésie, Northern Ontario and older Canadian Prairie-French accents).  Now mix all the above accents together (plus a few more), and guess what overall accent you’re likely to begin to get!  (Wink, wink!!).  And that, my friends, is precisely what happened 300 – 400 years ago here in Canada.

  • France’s 45 languages:

As a speaker of Canadian French, what I find fascinating about the video below is that I (quite surprisingly) find some of the languages relatively easy to understand.   Three of the languages which stick out as relatively easy to understand are PercheronMainiot, and Poitevin (despite that I had never heard them prior to listening to this video).  Even though I can understand them, I am not sure that people in other regions in France would understand them quite as easily.   This is because they seem to share many more traits with our colloquial French in Canada than with standard International French (or even colloquial European French).

Something I find quite shocking (but equally fascinating) is that I can hear vocabulary and expressions in these languages which we regularly say in Canadian French but which are not said in France French and have died out in France.   The following are some prime examples of words / phrases I heard in the languages I pointed out.  They are things we say everyday in Canadian French (many many times every day).  I, like most people in Canada, took it for granted that these were uniquely Canadian words — but apparently they’re not, and we now know their true source! (from some of the old Languages of Oïl).

  • où-ce que t’as..?” or où ce qu’y est…?”
    • instead of “où est-ce que tu as…?” or “où est-ce qu’il est… ?”,
    • which means “Where did you…?” or “Where is…?” in Canada
  • à c’t’heure
    • instead of “maintenant”
    • which means “right now” in Canada,
  • fait-qu’là
    • instead of “alors”
    • which means “so in Canada,
  • M’a faire, aller, etc….”
    • instead of Je vais faire, aller… etc.”
    • which means I’m going to do, go… etc.” in Canada,
  • ben’qu-là
    • instead of “bon!”
    • which means “well…”, or “so then” in Canada, etc.

And then there were the accents and tones… such as the old French Montréal-Windsor-St.Louis corridor aveolar “Rs”, and Acadian vowel flattenings.

Truly fascinating stuff — like a 400 year old time-machine, but with a mirror with our face in it!

I suppose it indicates that the degrees of separation from the original French dialects which came to Canada in the 1600’s & 1700’s, and the style of colloquial French we speak today across Canada and Québec may not have diverged as much as one would think.

Other languages which I surprisingly do not have major difficulties understanding are aspects of Picard (Ch’ti), Orléanais (which appears to share many traits in common with Acadian French in Canada), and Gallo.  

It was actually quite eerie listening to these languages for the first time.  There was an instant sense of “familiarity” with them, despite having never heard them before.

Go figure!  😉

Where all this fits on a language tree:

As with any language, I suppose you could say any given language has “sibling” languages and “cousin” languages.

A cousin language would be when one older language gives rise to a few parallel new languages.   In a broad sense, Latin gave birth to many different language groupings.  Some examples would be the Italo-Dalmatian grouping (which includes Corsican, Italian, Sicilian, etc), the Eastern Grouping (which includes Romanian, Aromanian, etc.), the Langue d’Oïl grouping (which includes French, Norman, Walloon, etc.).

In general, these “groupings” could be said to be positioned like “cousins” with respect to one another on a family tree.   In language terms, sometimes you can understand your cousins, but sometimes you cannot.   Some of French’s cousins would include Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese.  I can understand (especially read) a good deal of these three language cousins.  Conversely, English’s closest cousin is the language of West Frisian which is spoken in the Northern Netherlands.   English speakers cannot understand or read West Frisian (or any other cousin of English) owing to too much separation in terms of time and geography.   So it’s hit and miss when it comes to understanding cousin languages.

Then there are the sibling languages.  Each of the “cousin groupings” gives birth to a number of other languages (“sibling” languages) through closely related circumstances of geography and history.   In the Oïl Language grouping, we find the languages in the above video (for example, Percheron, MainiotPoitevin, Picard (Ch’ti), Orléanais and Gallo).  As a Canadian French speaker, the above-mentioned sibling languages are not difficult for me to understand, despite that I had never heard them before (whereas other “sibling” languages in the Oïl Language grouping are difficult for me to understand).   Conversely, English has two sibling languages… one has gone extinct (Yola), and the other is Scots.  Sometimes Scots can be a bit difficult to understand if you are not used to hearing it (see the video below), but if you were to read it aloud, chances are you would understand 80% of it if your native language is English.

Click below to open the language tree to see where French and English sit with respect to their language “cousins” and “siblings”.    The languages discussed above are in “Blue” on the tree.

Indo-European Tree - blue - jpg

We already heard samples of some of French’s language siblings.  But as an English speaker, if you’re curious about English’s only remaining sibling, Scots, here are some examples:

This is a sample text of Scots from Wikipedia:  Quebec (Québec in the French leid) is a province o Canadae. It is the mucklest province gaun bi aurie o Canadae. Quebec haes a population o 7,651,531 fowk. The offeecial leid o Quebec is French, an aboot 90% o the indwallers o Quebec speaks it (aside French, baith Inglis an Inuktuit are spoken). The caipital ceety o Quebec is Quebec Ceety (Ville de Québec in French), an the mucklest ceety is Montreal (Montréal). Maist o the fowk in Quebec are French Canadians (or Québecois), but Erse-Quebecers, Scots-Quebecers, Inglis-Quebecers, Italian-Quebecers an Jewish-Quebecers bide there an aw.

Just for the fun of it, I’m going to have a go at translating it.  Let’s see how I do (I’ll put my guesses in parenthesis):  Quebec (Québec in the French language) is a province in Canada.  It is the largest (?) province (something something) of Canada.  Quebec has a population of 7,651,531 people (or folk).  The official language of Quebec is French, and about 90% of the inhabitants (dwellers) of Quebec speak it.  Apart from French, (something) English and Inuktitut are spoken.  The capital city of Quebec is Quebec City – Ville de Québec in French.  And the largest city is Montreal.  Most of the population (folk) in Quebec are French Canadians – or Québécois, but (something) Quebeckers, Scottish-Quebeckers, English-Quebeckers, and Jewish-Quebeckers also live (abide) there (but I assume they’re not saying they live there “in awe”… so I don’t know what the last word is).

How did I do?  It looks like I could understand 90%.   If you want to read the full Wikipedia article, you can find it here;  http://sco.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quebec

But… Let’s ramp this up a notch, and see how well your listening skills are.  I’ve seen the following video, and although I would likely not have many problems “reading” what is being said – I cannot say the same regarding my listening skills.  I have only ever had minimal exposure to listening to Scots, so believe me when I say that 80% of what is being simply flies over my head.   Have a listen and see how you do (if you are an Anglophone Canadian, I’m sure you will do NO better than me in understanding what is being said):

FURTHER READING

If you want to read more on all these topics, you can check out the following Wikipedia articles:


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The end of SNL Québec? (#216)

Télé-Québec (Québec’s public television broadcaster, but perhaps only in fourth of fifth place in terms of ratings among non-specialty channels) is currently undergoing a round of budget cuts.

Last September, they launched Saturday Night Live Québec (SNL Québec).  The novice comedians of the new series became instant stars and household names across Québec and Francophone Canada.   They have since forged a high-profile media presence for themselves on talk shows, at comedy festivals, and in television and media in general.  In a nutshell, SNL Québec allowed us to view the making of new TV stars (and boy, have they been high-profile the last few months).

However, the nature of Télé-Québec’s cutbacks have finally hit home, and they had to cancel SNL Québec.   Last night’s airing could very well have been the LAST episode ever made.

For the moment, you can still view prior SNL episodes on Télé-Québec’s website, here:  http://snlquebec.telequebec.tv/emissions

I’ve seen it mentioned in the media a few times that Télé-Québec is trying to sell the program to a different network- but only time will tell if they succeed.

Regardless of whether or not another network buys the show, the following TV stars have been born and are taking new roles across all media platforms:

  • Phil Roy
  • Virginie Fortin
  • Mathieu Quesnel
  • Léane Labrèche-Dor
  • Pier-Luc Funk
  • Katherine Levac 

The show may have come to an abrupt end, but I have a feeling these six individuals will continue to be highly visible for many years to come.