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New course: Le québécois en 10 leçons

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overscore
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 Message 81 of 167
27 October 2012 at 2:39am | IP Logged 
What is vulgar in "Salut, moi c'est Philippe, pis ch'ticitte pour apprendre el français. Tu veux tu m'aider un peu aek c'te texte la?"

A buddy of mine learned Quebecois to a very high level by interacting with coworkers at his blue-collar job. It turns out there is nothing magical about CF (it is spoken in Ontario also, a fact which Quebecers are quick to forget), just provide material and learning will do itself. The formal register is fine and all, but I rarely use it in my daily life for instance, and there is hardly a lack of resources about it.


As for teaching what's negative and what's not... In my experience this is probably one of the easier aspects to pick up. It's not rocket science. Nuances and the meaning of idioms however are harder to pick up, but they can make your speech flow much better.. For example: "Ouin st'une crosse ça, achete pas ça". Something that's worth teaching IMO because it tends to be hard to find the meaning of such things.
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s_allard
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 Message 82 of 167
27 October 2012 at 3:53am | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:
s_allard wrote:
I think there is a real need for a thorough guide to spoken Québécois in all its registers, ranging from slang to formal. It might be too much to ask for in one book.

The power of dialogues is that they depict a context in which the words can be used and this gives the student a fairly good impression of the register. As a student, do I want a book that constistently pinpoints the exact register of every word? No -- I want a general guide, and I'll figure out the details on my own. That's perfectly fine with me as a student, and I tend to be on the side of the pickier students.
...

Another thing to consider is that as a native speaker, I have some instinct about the register of Québécois words, but asking other native speakers is really hard because people are notoriously bad at analyzing the way they speak themselves, particularly with Québécois when you start asking about spoken language people never write. I stopped counting how many times I asked about a given form that most people immediately rejected as something they'd never say, and then I'd start paying attention and start hearning it frequently. So, are you going to run double blind test studies to write a language course? No -- you use your knowledge, your instincts, and you guide the students in the right direction.

One example I remember is that I was trying to pinpoint the size of what the Québécois would call "sachet". In Europe, sachet is used for grocery store plastic bags, but not in Québec, so I mentioned it in the course, but then when is a sachet too big to be a sachet? These kinds of problems occur all the time -- you provide a general guideline, and you move on.

So I generally agree that registers are important, but as a course writer, I consider that my duty is to offer a general guideline that is clear, accessible and accurate to steer students in the right direction, but it will never be a perfect, complete and exhaustive representation of the language -- a language course and a reference manual are two different things.


A language course is a reference - not in the form of a dictionary, of course - but it is a work of reference in that learners rely on it to be a true or realistic representation of the language. Most language courses are designed to help users acquire the language in order to speak it or use it in some form.

A concern that all learners have implicitly or explicitly is how accurate or real is the language being taught. Many users experience a kind of culture shock when they go from the classroom to the real world because the language they first learn is very different from the way people speak.

In English one can find many dictionaries or guides to slang or the vernacular of many languages, starting with English, of course. As I write this, I am looking at the book "Streetwise Spanish, Speak and Understand Everyday Spanish" by Mary McVey Gill and Brenda Wegmann. It also comes with a cassette. The introduction states:

"...Streetwise Spanish offers a simple and enjoyable teach-yourself method for learning to understand and use many of the practical, amusing slang expressions and idioms of the world's most friendly international language."

This is an excellent book that is designed to complement the typical formal language course in Spanish. I also have a similar book on street French.

With all guides to popular speech or slang a fundamental question is how accurate they are at the very moment. Vernacular language, and particularly the lexicon, changes quickly. A few moments ago, as I was entering my building I met a 20ish student who was looking for a cardboard box. I said if she didn't find one, I might have something. She answered: "I might totally take you up on that."

I would never have used the adverb "totally" in this manner, but I have noticed that this usage is becoming more and more popular. And of course there is the intensive use of "like" that is making its way into the standard language.

So, if one is making a guide to something like American slang, it is very important to define when, where and by whom things are used. Many expressions have gone out of style. Nobody says "hep cat", "daddy-o", "old man (father)", "dough (money)", etc. For money, for example, one would hear today something like "ka-ching." I suggest that people have a look at the Urban Dictionary on the Internet if they want to see contemporary American English slang.

The rule of thumb with all courses or guides to slang is to always wait to hear something before using it. I find that there is nothing more ridiculous than a foreigner using some inappropriate expression, especially if it is out of date, in an attempt to sound "cool".

I don't consider @Arekkusu's book a language course in the sense of a guide of forms of language that users should learn to use. I intend to use it in class as a reference work in that I want to show students variations of Québécois French and the social connotations associated with certain linguistic forms. In other words, I teach people to recognize certain forms and, in certain cases, I would suggest they not use it.

For example, I would not suggest that foreigners say "moé, c'est Simon, ch't'icitte pour..." for the same reasons that I would not recommend that people learn to say "c'est la compagnie que je travaille pour" or "ma y dire mais qu'y vienne à maison."

There are four reasons for not learning to actually speak much of this stuff. Firstly, some things are disappearing. The rounded Montreal "a" of "garage" and "voyage", the "moé pi toé","léyer (loyer), "néyer (noyer)". the rolled "r", the "nuitte" and "icitte" are less and less prevalent in everyday speech.

Secondly, many items are connoted as very vulgar and uneducated. Which is why they are found in the routines of certain stand-up comedians. Of course, to appreciate these comedians, it is important to understand this kind of language. Actually using it is another story.

For example the language of motorcycle gangs is very interesting but most people would not learn to use it unless they want to become the member of such a gang.

Thirdly, the situations in which most learners of Québécois French will use much of this language are very rare.

And finally, learners must keep in mind that these are not authentic dialogues. They are contrived in order to illustrate particular features of grammar and vocabulary. For that purpose they work well.

But people do not really speak that way. If you want to hear what real speech both from Quebec and France sounds like, go to the site I mentioned before FluentFrenchNow and check out the Real-life examples. Example number 4 from Quebec with the foul-mouthed police officer is outstanding.

In conclusion, guides to slang and popular speech are very useful because they meet a need. Many learners understandably want to be able to recognize popular speech and use some of it. In this sense @Arekkusu's work is a contribution to a growing body of books and guides to Québécois French vernacular.

My viewpoint is that the contents are to be studied, some to be incorporated into the learner's everyday speech and other items best avoided unless one has specific reasons for acquiring this speech.

Again a word of caution to readers who do not live in Quebec. Although I have purchased this book and recommended it to my students, I would strongly advise that you consult with native Québécois before actually using some (not all) of this material in your own speech.
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s_allard
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 Message 83 of 167
27 October 2012 at 4:06am | IP Logged 
overscore wrote:
What is vulgar in "Salut, moi c'est Philippe, pis ch'ticitte pour apprendre el français. Tu veux tu m'aider un peu aek c'te texte la?"

A buddy of mine learned Quebecois to a very high level by interacting with coworkers at his blue-collar job. It turns out there is nothing magical about CF (it is spoken in Ontario also, a fact which Quebecers are quick to forget), just provide material and learning will do itself. The formal register is fine and all, but I rarely use it in my daily life for instance, and there is hardly a lack of resources about it.


As for teaching what's negative and what's not... In my experience this is probably one of the easier aspects to pick up. It's not rocket science. Nuances and the meaning of idioms however are harder to pick up, but they can make your speech flow much better.. For example: "Ouin st'une crosse ça, achete pas ça". Something that's worth teaching IMO because it tends to be hard to find the meaning of such things.

I actually agree with this post. I don't think there's anything vulgar in the quote. I would say that it is socially connoted as uneducated and low-class. Keeping this in mind there are situations where it is totally acceptable. There are people who speak this way. The real question is: Do you want to speak this way?

Edited by s_allard on 27 October 2012 at 4:07am

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Arekkusu
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 Message 84 of 167
27 October 2012 at 4:24am | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
overscore wrote:
What is vulgar in "Salut, moi c'est Philippe, pis ch'ticitte pour
apprendre el français. Tu veux tu m'aider un peu aek c'te texte la?"

A buddy of mine learned Quebecois to a very high level by interacting with coworkers at his blue-collar job. It
turns out there is nothing magical about CF (it is spoken in Ontario also, a fact which Quebecers are quick to
forget), just provide material and learning will do itself. The formal register is fine and all, but I rarely use it in
my daily life for instance, and there is hardly a lack of resources about it.


As for teaching what's negative and what's not... In my experience this is probably one of the easier aspects
to pick up. It's not rocket science. Nuances and the meaning of idioms however are harder to pick up, but
they can make your speech flow much better.. For example: "Ouin st'une crosse ça, achete pas ça".
Something that's worth teaching IMO because it tends to be hard to find the meaning of such things.

I actually agree with this post. I don't think there's anything vulgar in the quote. I would say that it is socially
connoted as uneducated and low-class. Keeping this in mind there are situations where it is totally
acceptable. There are people who speak this way. The real question is: Do you want to speak this way?

If I were a learner, yes, I would want to be able to speak that way. And as a native speaker, I sometimes do.

Language can be extremely powerful in segregating as well as in uniting people and there many situations
were one speaker adapts to the other person's style of speech to induce closer ties or, in turn, one may
refuse to do so to maintain distance. Whoever is unable to speak the way you refer to is hindered in his or her
ability to properly connect to people, and in the case of immigrants, in their ability to properly intergrate
society.

But I think your question was 'do you want to be limited to speaking that way?'. As far as my book is
concerned, readers will already have an intermediate level or so, so I don't consider that a serious risk.
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s_allard
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 Message 85 of 167
28 October 2012 at 6:50pm | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:
...
If I were a learner, yes, I would want to be able to speak that way. And as a native speaker, I sometimes do.

Language can be extremely powerful in segregating as well as in uniting people and there many situations
were one speaker adapts to the other person's style of speech to induce closer ties or, in turn, one may
refuse to do so to maintain distance. Whoever is unable to speak the way you refer to is hindered in his or her
ability to properly connect to people, and in the case of immigrants, in their ability to properly intergrate
society.

But I think your question was 'do you want to be limited to speaking that way?'. As far as my book is
concerned, readers will already have an intermediate level or so, so I don't consider that a serious risk.


Most of the guides in French to Québécois French are aimed at French-speaking immigrants or visitors who want to understand the specific features of Québécois French. So, of course these guides tend to highlight what is different.

A major concern for users is to understand what is appropriate and what is inappropriate. As I said a number of times in my previous posts, the material in this book - as I can judge from one chapter - contains elements that users should learn to use and elements that should be recognized but not used unless in specific circumstances.

I understand this idea of wanting to reduce social distance between groups of people by using similar language but one has to be very careful in the choice of the right language to do this.

The danger here is that certain words can convey a wrong impression. You may think that you are trying to be empathetic to another person but with your accent you may give the impression that you are you making fun of a person's way of speaking or being condescending. Or you may end up just looking ridiculous.

@Arekkusu, a native speaker, can safely navigate safely this linguistic minefield because he can convey and detect nuances in Québécois slang. We all do this in our respective slang and vernacular languages.

Take for example, African-American slang. How many non-African-American native-speakers of English, let alone learners, would say "Yo, bro, how's about some chitlins for lunch?"to an African=American person after having read a book on African-American slang?

The question isn't whether to use Québécois or not, but what elements are safe to use and when. The problem with what I have seen so far is that it is not clearly indicated what is more negatively connoted than others.

Again, I can only judge from one chapter and without the introduction, but I would say that the "moé pis toé" and "moé, ch't'icitte pour..." would definitely not be recommended. I seriously doubt that using these forms would help any immigrants integrate into Quebec society.

Politicians are known for wanting to ingratiate themselves with various parts of the populations. No politician, at any level of government in the Quebec of today uses this kind of language. It used to exist possibly 50 years ago, but not today.

As I said in a previous posts, to those HTLALers who do not live in Quebec and who are not native speakers of French, I strongly suggest heeding advice from native Québécois as to what is appropriate or not when using contents from this book.    
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Arekkusu
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 Message 86 of 167
28 October 2012 at 9:03pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:

Again, I can only judge from one chapter and without the introduction, but I would say that the "moé pis toé"
and "moé, ch't'icitte pour..." would definitely not be recommended. I seriously doubt that using these forms
would help any immigrants integrate into Quebec society.

Politicians are known for wanting to ingratiate themselves with various parts of the populations. No politician,
at any level of government in the Quebec of today uses this kind of language. It used to exist possibly 50
years ago, but not today.   

Out of curiosity, I watched an interview with Denis Coderre (a very popular politician) and Mario Dumont (now
former politician), and although they are in front of a camera and go back and forth between several registers,
they both used moé, pis and ch't' (I didn't hear icitte, or ici), in the course of a few minutes.

Here is one of the interviews 2 steamés

Edited by Arekkusu on 28 October 2012 at 9:03pm

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s_allard
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 Message 87 of 167
28 October 2012 at 10:06pm | IP Logged 
I listened to both intervews and I didn't hear any clear moé or toé at all. Mario Dumont said three moi and in the case of Denis Coderre, I didn't count the large number of moi and toi but no moé or toé. The pis and chu variations are very common and not negatively connoted as icitte and moé pis toé.

I didn't see any examples of major change of registers. Both speakers are excellent examples of modern spoken conversational Québécois.

But to come back to this course in modern Québécois, a problem is the lack of clear distinction between what is standard or generally acceptable (as in these interviews) and what is colloquial or considered non-standard. @Arekkusu makes the distinction between standard French – le français – and what le Québécois which would seem to be the non-standard French of Quebec.

Thus there are all the comparisons between French and Québécois, as in the pronouns of Québécois and the pronouns of French. Or the tanslations of the dialogue into standard French. Curiously, "s'ennuyer de" is considered Québécois although it is very standard French. The common Québécois form is "manquer" used transitively.

The interesting thing is that aside pronunciation and some lexicon, the differences between Québécois and spoken French are not that great. In terms of grammar, the differences are in fact minimal. We sometimes forget that there is a whole world of popular French that is very different from the official or standard French we know.

Those interested in this stuff should read "Approches de la langue parlée en français" by Claire Blanche-Benveniste and "Colloquial French Grammar – A Practical Guide" by Rodney Ball.

It's interesting to see in these works that the grammar of Québécois and colloquial French are nearly identical, even to the interrogative marker –tu or the inverted imperative forms (fais-toi-z-en pas) that we think are Québécois. Here is an excerpt from the introduction of Rodney Ball's work:

"In what follows, a basic distinction will be drawn between 'standard' and 'colloquial'
French grammar. Within the colloquial division, grammatical forms
like j'ai rentré, which have social class connotations, are sub-categorized as
'popular'. (Popular/populaire in this context does not mean 'widely appreciated
or enjoyed', of course, but relates to the 'usage of the (common) people'.)
'Popular' forms should be distinguished from 'familiar' ones (je comprends
pas, for example), which are usable by all speakers, irrespective of their
background. So familiar!familier, unlike popular/populaire, is a formality related
not a class-related term: it need not imply 'used exclusively by upper and
middle-class speakers'. Note the term (français) relâché, which is
sometimes used as a general expression covering both these categories, and
is equivalent to 'colloquial'."

I should also point out that much scientific work on spoken Québécois French has been done in all the Quebec universities and particularly at l'Université Laval and l'Université de Sherbrooke.




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overscore
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 Message 88 of 167
28 October 2012 at 10:17pm | IP Logged 
The "moé pi toé" phenomenon disputed above is not native to the particular variety of Quebecois French I grew up
speaking. However, I realized a while ago that it is _very much so_ a reality of how French is spoken in Montréal. So
while I see where you are coming from, I think it is much more acceptable, nowadays, to speak the colloquial
language in a wide variety of settings, be they formal (such as political debates and such) down to the most
mundane of colloquies.

As such, I don't really see a reason to continue stigmatizing so-called "low-class" speech by virtue of the fact that
this speech transcends social classes and is more a function of geographical location than education. Orthogonally, I
believe there is a time and place for everything and so perhaps it makes sense to keep the higher registers for the
written word.


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