Why Canadian French is Different From Paris French
June 3, 2013
On July 3, 1608, a young descendant of a family of mariners by the name of Samuel de Champlain founded the city of Quebec. With that, the French language was established on the North American continent.
He brought with him, obviously, the French commonly spoken in France. As the years rolled on, the two versions of the language became quite distinct. People often think that the difference is similar to American vs. UK English, but Canadian French and Paris French are much more different that that.
When you start to learn Canadian French, you might be surprised by how much it really differs from Paris French, also known as Metropolitan French. The two languages developed in very different ways and for different reasons.
It will be fairly easy to recognize the influence of English when you learn Canadian French, but did you realize that Canadian French is actually much closer to Classic French as it was spoken before the French Revolution?
Two things happened that caused modern Continental French and Canadian French to be two very distinct beasts.
First, France ceded Canada to England in 1763. Because of this, the following era saw a greatly reduced amount of cultural and business contact between France and Canada. It also caused English to gain a much broader coverage throughout Canada.
But the main event that caused the modern difference had to do with the French Revolution, which took place between 1789 and 1799. Up until then, the French language was quite similar to the root-version of Canadian French. But when the revolution ended, the French of the Parisian bourgeoisie became the official language of the nation – a radical divergence from the previous format of the language.
French is a very adaptable language. It moves and grows and it develops along with its culture fluently. At the same time, French in France tends to be conservative, for want of a better word. I still remember marveling in school when I heard that a computer in French isn’t called ‘un computeur’ but ‘un ordenateur. As my teacher said at the time: “If the French can avoid importing a foreign word into their language, they darn well will.”
As such, both Canadian French and Paris French both evolved and developed in their own distinct ways. That’s why, if you learn Canadian French, you’ll actually be speaking the language of kings and nobility. Well, with some English thrown into the mix, of course.
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