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Canadian French
français canadien
Native to Canada (primarily Quebec and New Brunswick, but present throughout the country); smaller numbers in emigrant communities in New England
Native speakers
9,487,500 in Canada  (2005)[1]
2,000,000 speak French at home in the U.S.
Official status
Official language in
 Canada (nation-wide; provincial/territorial governments of Quebec, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut)
Recognised minority language in
 Canada (Ontario, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, Alberta, Newfoundland and Labrador)
 United States (Louisiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont)
Language codes
ISO 639-3

Canadian French (French: français canadien) is an umbrella term referring to the varieties of French spoken in Canada. In 2005, the total number of speakers of French in Canada (including those who spoke it as a second language) was 11,552,800.[1] French is the mother tongue of more than seven million Canadians, a figure constituting roughly 22% of the national population.[2] At the federal level it has co-official status alongside English. At the provincial level of government, French is the sole official language of Quebec and is one of two official languages of New Brunswick. Government services are offered in French at the provincial level in Manitoba, in certain areas of Ontario (through the French Language Services Act), and to a variable extent elsewhere. French is co-official in the three territories. New England French, a variety spoken in parts of New England in the United States, is essentially a variety of Canadian French.[3]


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 from Quebec French primarily by their greater conservatism. The term Laurentian French has limited application as a collective label for all these varieties, and Quebec French has also been used for the entire dialect group. The overwhelming majority of francophone Canadians speak this dialect.

Acadian French is spoken by over 350,000 Acadians in parts of the Maritime Provinces, Newfoundland, the Îles de la Madeleine, and Gaspé peninsula.[4]

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 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.[5] It is believed to have resulted from a localized levelling of contact dialects between Québécois and Acadian settlers.

New England French is spoken in parts of New England in the United States. Essentially a local variant of Canadian French, it is one of three major forms of French that developed in what is now the U.S., the others being Louisiana French and the nearly-extinct Missouri French. It is endangered, though its use is supported by bilingual education programs in place since 1987.[3]


There are two main sub-varieties of Canadian French. Joual is an informal variety of French spoken in working-class neighbourhoods in the province of Quebec. Chiac is a blending of Acadian French syntax and vocabulary with numerous lexical borrowings from English.

Historical usage[edit]

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.[6] 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 dialects in France.[7]

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]


  1. ^ a b This figure represents the number of speakers of the French language in Canada in 2005 according to the International Organisation of the Francophonie. It comprises those that speak French fluently 9,487,500, and those that speak French partially 2,065,300.
  2. ^ "2011 Census of Canada".
  3. ^ a b Ammon, Ulrich; International Sociological Association (1989). Status and Function of Languages and Language Varieties. Walter de Gruyter. pp. 306–308. ISBN 0-89925-356-3. Retrieved February 1, 2012. 
  4. ^ Ethnologue report for Canada
  5. ^ 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]
  6. ^ 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.
    ²Il 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."
  7. ^ Robert Fournier & Henri Wittmann. 1995. Le français des Amériques. Trois-Rivières: Presses universitaires de Trois-Rivières.


Further reading[edit]

  • Darnell, Regna, ed. (1971). Linguistic Diversity in Canadian Society, in Sociolinguistics Series, 1. Edmonton, Alta.: Linguistic Research. Without ISBN or SBN

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_French — Please support Wikipedia.
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