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Canadian French
Français canadien
Spoken in Canada:


Acadia (Northern New Brunswick, parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador, the Gaspe peninsula and the Magdalen Islands)

also Ontario and Western Canada; with emigrant communities in Maine, Upstate New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Louisiana

Total speakers (mother tongue) 7 million in Canada[1]

Smaller numbers in the U.S.

Language family Indo-European
Official status
Official language in Canada (as French)
Regulated by No official regulation
Language codes
ISO 639-1 fr
ISO 639-2 fre (B)  fra (T)
ISO 639-3 fra

Canadian French (French: Français canadien) is an umbrella term referring to the various dialects of French that evolved in Canada and which are spoken there to this day. French is the mother tongue of nearly seven million Canadians, a figure constituting roughly 22% of the national population.[1] At the federal level it has co-official status alongside English. Provincially it is official where warranted by numbers, except in the case of New Brunswick which is officially bilingual (with English), and in Quebec where it is the only official language. French is also co-official in the three territories.



  • Quebec French is spoken in Quebec. Closely related varieties are spoken by francophone communities in Ontario, Western Canada, Labrador and in the New England region of the United States, and differ primarily by their greater conservatism. The term Laurentian French has limited application as a collective label for these varieties, and Quebec French, confusingly, has also been used. The overwhelming majority of francophone Canadians speak this dialect, as most of them live in Quebec.
  • Acadian French is spoken by over 350 000 Acadians in parts of The Maritimes, Newfoundland, les Îles de la Madeleine, and The Gaspé.[2] It is the parent dialect to Louisiana “Cajun” French (that name derived from a colloquial pronunciation of “Acadian”).
  • Métis French is spoken in Manitoba and Western Canada by the Métis, descendants of First Nations mothers and Voyageur fathers during the fur trade. Many Métis spoke Cree in addition to French, and over the years they developed a unique mixed language called Michif by combining Métis French nouns, numerals, articles and adjectives with Cree verbs, demonstratives, postpositions, interrogatives and pronouns. Both the Michif language and the Métis dialect of French are severely endangered.
  • Newfoundland French is spoken by a small population on the Port-au-Port Peninsula of Newfoundland. It is endangered — both Quebec French and Acadian French are now more widely spoken among Newfoundland francophones than the distinctive peninsular dialect.
  • Brayon French is spoken in the The Beauce of Quebec and Madawaska in New Brunswick (and the American state Maine). Although superficially a phonological descendant of Acadian French, analysis reveals it is morphosyntactically identical to Quebec French.[3] It is believed to have resulted from a localised levelling of contact dialects between Québécois and Acadian settlers.


  • Joual is the working-class French jargon native to Quebec.
  • Chiac is Acadian slang heavily inter-mixed with English.

Historical Usage

The term Canadian French was formerly used to refer specifically to Quebec French and the closely related varieties of Ontario and Western Canada descended from it.[4] This is presumably because Canada and Acadia were distinct parts of New France, and also of British North America, until 1867. However, today the term Canadian French is not usually deemed to exclude Acadian French.

Phylogenetically, Quebec French, Métis French and Brayon French are representatives of koiné French in the Americas whereas Acadian French, Cajun French, and Newfoundland French are derivatives of non-koinesized local languages in France.[5]

Notes & References


  1. ^ a b Source: 2006 Census of Canada Includes multiple responses.
  2. ^ Ethnologue report for Canada
  3. ^ Geddes, James (1908). Study of the Acadian-French language spoken on the north shore of the Baie-des-Chaleurs. Halle: Niemeyer; Wittmann, Henri (1995) "Grammaire comparée des variétés coloniales du français populaire de Paris du 17e siècle et origines du français québécois." in Fournier, Robert & Henri Wittmann. Le français des Amériques. Trois-Rivières: Presses universitaires de Trois-Rivières, 281-334.[1]
  4. ^ Francard and Latin, in Le régionalisme lexical, write: "Le français du Québec a rayonné en Ontario et dans l'ouest du Canada, de même qu'en Nouvelle-Angleterre. [...] Le français québécois et le français acadien peuvent être regroupés sous l'appellation plus large de français canadien², laquelle englobe aussi le français ontarien et le français de l'Ouest canadien. Ces deux derniers possèdent des traits caractéristiques qui leur sont propres aujourd'hui dans l'ensemble canadien et qui s'expliquent surtout par un phénomène de conservatisme, mais il s'agit de variétés qui sont historiquement des prolongements du français québécois." The footnote reads: "Il faut noter ici que le terme de «français canadien» avait autrefois un sens plus restreint, désignant le français du Québec et les variétés qui s'y rattachent directement, d'où l'emploi à cette époque de «canadianisme» pour parler d'un trait caractéristique du français du Québec."
  5. ^ Robert Fournier & Henri Wittmann. 1995. Le français des Amériques. Trois-Rivières: Presses universitaires de Trois-Rivières.


See also

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Wikipedia has an article on:


Proper noun

Canadian French


Canadian French

  1. The French language as spoken by francophones in Canada.

External links



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