The differences between “France French” and Canadian French have often been compared to those of American English and British English, although this is a hotly contested debate – the relationship is perhaps more akin to that of Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese.
Quebecois vs French as we’ll call it for the purpose of our debate here.
Speakers of one dialect can easily understand another yet could find the definition of certain words changes dramatically across the Atlantic.
Accents and pronunciations, like between the US and the UK, are also noted differences, sometimes to the extent that a Canadian francophone may be required to modify their accent in Europe to be understood. The major differences, however, are in vocabulary.
Quebecois vs French — literal differences
One example of the differences is the use of “mes gosses.” In France, if one were to ask “ca va, les gosses?”, they would be asking how another’s children were.
In Quebec, however, using the same phrase could be quite embarrassing or insulting to either party. There, “mes gosses” does not mean “my kids”. Instead, it means “my testicles”.
The immigration to Canada by French settlers predated the invention of some of today’s commonplace items such as the automobile.
As such, differences between France French and Canadian French are noticeable when it comes to nouns in describing recent inventions.
In such cases, Canadian French has been heavily influenced by the maritime heritage of the original French settlers and the proximity of the English-speaking regions of Canada along with the United States.
This has been influenced further through intra-North America migration which has accelerated the introduction of some English words into Canadian French.
Examples of the above include the use of the verbs “embarquer” and “débarquer” as opposed to the France French “monter” and “descendre” for entering and exiting an automobile.
Whilst it is suggested that this is due to Quebec’s maritime history, “embarquer” and “débarquer” being the verbs for entering and exiting a vessel, this is more due to the isolation of Quebec from France.
With no word to describe the action, Canadian French speakers adopted an existing word for the action.
Quebecois vs French — The accent
Canadian French is also noted as having a similar accent to Normandy, with many settlers emigrating from there.
In summary, a speaker of Canadian French would have no difficulties communicating in France, although their accent may be met with some surprise.
Years of separation has seen the divulgence of the two strands but with the rise of the internet and television, globalization gives rise to greater exposure of Quebec French in France and vice versa.
For a further understanding of Canadian French and France French, this youtube video may be of interest: