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New course: Le québécois en 10 leçons

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s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
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Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 97 of 167
31 October 2012 at 5:57pm | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:
The member formerly known as Cainntear's opinion on the question.

Québécois: a question of prestige

I read this article and didn't understand much. But let me try to put the shoe on the other foot. If I were to write a book on "The Scottish Language In 10 Lessons" I would first of all consult a number of Scots as to what exactly is the Scottish language. Then, if I were to choose the most vernacular of Scottish from a certain region, I would say something to that effect in the title of my book because I don't want people from Scotland berating me and telling me that not all Scots speak that way.
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iguanamon
Tetraglot
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Virgin Islands
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 Message 98 of 167
31 October 2012 at 7:09pm | IP Logged 
When I lived on the US mainland, Quebec French was the only French I ever heard outside school. I could hear it on my car radio and from Quebcois visitors. My high school French sounded nothing like what I heard.

There is precious little out there for English-speaking Americans and Canadians who would like to be able to speak and use the French of North America. Quebec French is, for many Americans and Canadians, the French they are most likely to personally encounter without having to hop on a plane to Europe. Simultaneously, it is the French they are least likely to encounter in materials intended for English-speaking French learners. Arekkusu's book may be imperfect. It surely does not represent the entirety of social registers in Quebec, but at least it's something!

No book or language course is ever going to be able to encompass every variation in a language spoken by millions of people. If I learned from this book to say icitte and noticed that my Quebecois conversation partner was saying ici instead, I would most likely immediately switch to accommodate that form. However, if I'd only ever learned ici and heard icitte for the first time, it very well might throw me for a loop.

To me, the point of this book is familiarization with the language that one may encounter on a visit to Quebec. If I decide to learn French at some point, I'd like to at least be familiar with the version of French that is coming at me. It would also be nice to be able to respond in kind, when the situation is appropriate.

When I lived in Northern England, I remember being somewhat flummoxed for a short while by the word "summat" ("something"). Obviously, this is not standard English. Where I come from we would say "sumpin'" (not far off from the Yorkshire variant) in common speech- never in a formal situation. Now, imagine a Spanish-speaker who'd learned standard English arriving in Yorkshire and suddenly being confronted with how English is spoken by, perhaps, the majority of people he/she encounters. I'm fairly certain "summat" isn't addressed in English learning materials. Sure, said Spanish-speaker will eventually discover the meaning of "summat" by context or asking. It would be nice to know beforehand that that word is a variation of "something" in Northern England.

I met many people who, though still speaking with a Yorkshire accent, did not use "summat" when speaking. I also met loads of folks who did speak that way.

With only 7 million or so Quebec French speakers, the numbers are probably never going to justify a whole suite of materials for those who want to learn French from the "get-go" with a Quebec base. As s_allard has pointed out, what comprises Quebec French is open for debate. I'm sure not everyone in Quebec speaks the way Arekkusu relates in his book. I am also sure that enough people do speak that way that, if I were to learn French and wanted to interact with French in Quebec, I would want to be familiar with it. I'm sure that I could very well encounter what is in the book, in a taxi, a shop or a bar. His book could save me the time and trouble of having to figure out this register of Quebec French on my own. For that reason alone, it would be useful.




Edited by iguanamon on 31 October 2012 at 7:11pm

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Arekkusu
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Canada
bit.ly/qc_10_lec
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Speaks: English, French*, GermanC1, Spanish, Japanese, Esperanto
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 Message 99 of 167
31 October 2012 at 7:18pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
I think this book does Le québécois language very badly because it misrepresents the language of an entire country. I think many Québécois do not find this very amusing. With a few elementary precautions, this bad feeling on the part of native Québécois like myself could have been avoided.

[...]

Then, if I were to choose the most vernacular of Scottish from a certain region, I would say something to that effect in the title of my book because I don't want people from Scotland berating me and telling me that not all Scots speak that way.

Considering this is the first book of its kind -- and my first book as well -- if that's the only serious criticism, then I'm happy. If you must, take a marker and change the title to what you want it to be. Nobody I spoke with had any issues with it.

I named the book with intermediate level students in mind, those who have either lived in Québec or have had some interaction with Québec, and these students know exactly what kind of language it covers the minute they see the book: the language they have heard but have never been taught. They understand where that language belongs in public life.

We're a funny bunch, us Québécois. Many don't want to be thought of as French (which we most certainly are not), yet insist that our French is "just as good" as the French spoken in France. Others insist, however, that our language is different and that it should be called something else. Yet the minute you tag the popular spoken language as Québécois, they are "not amused".

I think we can now safely put an end to the debate about the title or the fact that some language is less appropriate. I heard you loud and clear.

Beyond that, I'm looking forward to hearing about how your students welcome the book, and how you tackle the issues you mention when teaching them the content.
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s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
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 Message 100 of 167
01 November 2012 at 2:27am | IP Logged 
Arekkusu wrote:
...
...
I named the book with intermediate level students in mind, those who have either lived in Québec or have had some interaction with Québec, and these students know exactly what kind of language it covers the minute they see the book: the language they have heard but have never been taught. They understand where that language belongs in public life.

...


As the regulars aroung HTLAL know, I'm a stickler for naming things properly. I also believe in giving credit where credit is due. I have congratulated @Arekkusu for writing this book and I have purchased it sight unseen because I want to encourage one of our authors. I have also recommended it to my students.

I have raised a major point that can be taken lightly or seriously. You can brush it off and say that s_allard is on his high horses again because he doesn't have a life.

But I believe in constructive criticism. I criticize because I welcome criticism. When someone corrects my Spanish, I have to decide whether the correction is warranted or not. It usually depends on my opinion of the person criticizing. Just the other day someone corrected something that I had been saying incorrectly for years. I said to myself, "Oh my God, nobody had said anything to me before."

I do a fair amount of writing and I believe that if enough serious people stumble over something I've written then maybe there's a problem. I try to see things in a different light and how I can improve my work.

It's amazing how people get belligerent and all puffed up because of a simple thing. I think I have a pretty good idea of how language work in society. Social variation of language is not a new concept for me. I and (all?) the other Québécois commentators simply pointed out that the title of the book misleadingly leads people to think that all Québécois speak this way.

Interestingly, many of the non-Québécois don't see what the fuss is about. That's because they don't really understand the language. It's only words on paper. We all know that people don't all speak the same way. So, why are you getting so worked up, s_allard?

I like to use words properly. It hurts my ears when language is misused. I would think that many HTLALers share that feeling. I simply pointed out two things wrong in this book: 1) the title is misleading and will be criticized by native Québécois speakers, as has happened; 2) certain contents of the book are out of date and incorrect.

What has been the reaction of most people? Big deal. It the title is misleading, so what? Intermediate French learners will figure this out. If some of the contents are out of date and incorrect, that's the readers' problem.

I'm not so sure that if something similar had been done for any other language, people would not be howling bloody murder. It's funny that many of us take pride in learning a language to perfection, but when it comes to something as simple as using the right words in a title or in a presentation, we can use words loosely.

So much of this unpleasantness could have been avoided if the title had been clearer and if certain elementary explanations had been given. I think that many people cannot really appreciate how irritating it is for us Québécois to see once again how our language and culture are caricatured and even ridiculed.

Although this may be the author's first book, it is not the first time that we have seen these cultural stereotypes that associate Québécois culture with swearing, low-class French, poutine and pâté chinois.

To call the language of this book Le québécois is to reduce our language to its lowest denominator that harks back to a comic TV character called le Père Gédéon from the 70s and 80s who spoke just like the people in this book. (Do a search for the name). But le Père Gédéon is long gone. Our prime minister Pauline Marois speaks a pure Québécois not to be found in this book.

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Arekkusu
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Canada
bit.ly/qc_10_lec
Joined 3549 days ago

3971 posts - 7745 votes 
Speaks: English, French*, GermanC1, Spanish, Japanese, Esperanto
Studies: Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Estonian

 
 Message 101 of 167
01 November 2012 at 3:10am | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
As the regulars aroung HTLAL know, I'm a stickler for naming things
properly. I also believe in giving credit where credit is due. I have congratulated
@Arekkusu for writing this book and I have purchased it sight unseen because I want to
encourage one of our authors. I have also recommended it to my students.

Out of curiousity, just to get a general idea, what kind of students do you have -- first
language, age, origin, occupation, etc.?
1 person has voted this message useful



Arekkusu
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Canada
bit.ly/qc_10_lec
Joined 3549 days ago

3971 posts - 7745 votes 
Speaks: English, French*, GermanC1, Spanish, Japanese, Esperanto
Studies: Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Estonian

 
 Message 102 of 167
01 November 2012 at 3:31am | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
To call the language of this book Le québécois is to reduce our
language to its lowest denominator that harks back to a comic TV character called le
Père Gédéon from the 70s and 80s who spoke just like the people in this book. (Do a
search for the name). But le Père Gédéon is long gone. Our prime minister Pauline
Marois speaks a pure Québécois not to be found in this book.

You've mentioned a few times how you find that some of the language mentioned in the
book is caricaturesque, but I have to object and defend the authenticity of what I
presented.

I stressed in the introduction that everything presented in the book could be heard
from the mouths of native speakers at one point or another and I stand behind that.
I'll concede that some of the language may not be used by some of the younger,
urban, affluent population, but I have a very large extended family, almost all
of which lives outside of Montréal, and I could hear them say every single word and
sentence I've presented in the book.

A few people (native speakers) also read through the entire book to make sure there was
nothing unnatural or off-sounding and the few things they pointed out were adjusted or
corrected. Often times, they'd question something, only to come back later to confirm
that they'd heard it.

Again, I must reiterate -- that some of the language is not used by more educated
speakers, ok, but that it's a caricature, I strongly object.
7 persons have voted this message useful



tommus
Senior Member
CanadaRegistered users can see my Skype Name
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979 posts - 1686 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Dutch, French, Esperanto, German, Spanish

 
 Message 103 of 167
01 November 2012 at 4:18am | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
But I believe in constructive criticism. I criticize because I welcome criticism.

I provided a constructive suggestion quite some time ago that you add the languages you are learning to your HTLAL profile. That would enable some of your many comments here to be more fully understood in context. By not showing any languages that you are learning seems to imply that you are not really learning any, and as such are not well positioned to make so many informed comments. I don't think that is the case, but that is the impression I get.

Here is your chance to show that you welcome constructive suggestions.

This may seem like criticism. I hope not. I don't think we should criticize or welcome criticism. It has too much of a negative connotation. Lets provide constructive observations, contributions and suggestions to make this wonderful resource more useful to everyone.


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s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3598 days ago

2704 posts - 5424 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 104 of 167
01 November 2012 at 5:55am | IP Logged 
@tommus, an excellent suggestion that I had completely forgotten. At the time I was trying to figure out how to add the CEFR designations in superscript.

But to come back to the thread, instead of repeating my old arguments, I'll suggest we have a look at one of the many books devoted to "Street French". The one I'm looking at is called "More Street French - Slang, Idioms & Popular Expletives" by David Burke. Here's a quote from the back cover:

"Speak like you were born in France with...

Sophisticated travellers know that it's impossible to speak French without some guide to the subtle nuances of idiomatic expression. More Street French written by David Burke, author of the extremely popular Street French, quickly keys you into even more of the French - both earthy and sublime - heard daily in taxicabs, offices, butcher shops, movies, songs, and on the street."

I think that @Arekkusu's book covers similar material for Québécois French. Well, if that's the case, why not say so? Use the equivalent of "Street Québécois." If @Arekkusu had entitled his book "Le québécois de la rue" or "Le québécois familier" or "Le québécois populaire", we wouldn't be having this discussion.

By calling it "Le québécois", the author is raising the hackles of many people who do not see themselves in this language. What the author is saying is that "Le québécois" is fine for the street, but the good language is still "Le français."

I might have my misgivings about some of the contents, but I wouldn't not have kicked up this fuss. And I'm sure all the other Québécois readers would not make the same remarks that I am making.





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