This post is inspired by my recent trip to Quebec, a province that intimidates me (it feels like a foreign country) and also stimulates me to live up to the bilingual potential of my Canadian identity.
1. French is the sole provincial official language in Quebec.
“6,102,210 people (78.1 percent of the population) recorded it as their sole native language in the 2011 Census, and 6,249,085 (80.0%) recorded that they spoke it most often at home. Knowledge of French is widespread even among those who do not speak it natively; in 2011, about 94.4 percent of the total population reported being able to speak French, alone or in combination with other languages, while 47.3% reported being able to speak English.”
2. The language reflects the geography.
“The importance of the rivers and ocean as the main routes of transportation left its imprint on Quebec French. Whereas standard French uses the verbs “monter” and “descendre” to get in and out of an automobile, Québécois tend to use “embarquer” and “débarquer”, relics from their navigational heritage.”
3. In the late 19th century, although they were a minority, Anglophones dominated government and commerce in Quebec.
“As a result, Quebec French began to borrow from both Canadian and American English to fill lexical gaps in the fields of government, law, manufacturing, business, and trade. A great number of French Canadians went to the US to seek employment. When they returned, they brought with them new words taken from their experiences in the New England textile mills and the northern lumber camps.”
4. It’s different than French in France, but not that different.
“Mutual intelligibility of Quebec French with Metropolitan French is a matter of heated debates among linguists. If a comparison can be made, the differences between both dialects are probably larger than those between standard American and standard British English, but less than the differences between Brazilian Portuguese and that of Portugal.”
5. People have reasons for not standardizing Quebec French.
“Although Quebec French constitutes a coherent and standard system, it has no objective norm since the very organization mandated to establish it, the Office québécois de la langue française, believes that objectively standardizing Quebec French would lead to reduced interintelligibility with other French communities around the world, linguistically isolating Quebecers and possibly causing the extinction of the French language in the Americas.”
As I have mentioned before, this nasal language has a special place in my heart. I look forward to learning more. Thanks, Wikipedia!