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New course: Le québécois en 10 leçons

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s_allard
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 Message 33 of 167
23 October 2012 at 3:33pm | IP Logged 
Kudos to @Arekkusu! I've just had a look at the first chapter, and I think it's a great contribution to the growing bibliography of works on Québécois French. My only suggestion would be have entitled it "Le québécois populaire en 10 leçons" in order to clearly identify the kind of language. I say this because many Québécois may be offended by the suggestion that the language in the book represents the standard language of all Québécois, which is certainly not the case.

For people interested in French in general, there is the site fluentfrenchnow that has a lot of Québécois material including transcriptions of some juicy dialogs.
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Arekkusu
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 Message 34 of 167
23 October 2012 at 4:02pm | IP Logged 
Thanks for the compliment!

s_allard wrote:
My only suggestion would be have entitled it "Le québécois populaire en 10 leçons" in order to clearly identify the kind of language. I say this because many Québécois may be offended by the suggestion that the language in the book represents the standard language of all Québécois, which is certainly not the case.

We could debate that particular point forever. The introduction of the book covers this issue and explains that the language the Québécois speak forms a continuum that is, at one end, standard French, and at the other, spoken Québécois -- and it's this last variety that the book covers. Presumably the same variety that "Le dictionnaire de la langue québécoise" aimed to describe. I've heard from a few purists already that they didn't like or disagreed with the title, but I think it's accurate. If I got a book about French spoken in Marseilles, I'd think "Le Marseillais en X leçons" would be a very appropriate name.

A lot of Québécois read parts of the book and said "I know people who say that, but I don't speak that way though" or "Oh, I don't say that", only to say EXACTLY that in the following sentence. People often have a distorted sense of the way they really speak, and this is very true in Québec. Of course, the book focuses on the parts of speech that are not found in France French or in Standard French, but I went to great lengths to make sure it was accurate and genuine, analyzing people, movies, etc., in order to present the most commonly used language.

I fail to see why anyone should be offended by the language presented, though. We are who we are.

Edited by Arekkusu on 23 October 2012 at 4:07pm

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s_allard
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 Message 35 of 167
23 October 2012 at 6:50pm | IP Logged 
I didn't read the introduction in the book, I only had the first chapter. But this is an important point. Just what do we call the French spoken in Québec? Should we call it "le français québécois" or "le français du Québéc?" And within that category one could speak of varieties, including a working-class vernacular that we could call "le français familier" or "le français populaire."

That has been more or less the traditional position, although there was a time when people spoke of "le français canadien" and "le joual." These terms are disappearing.

What then is "le québécois"? There are two positions: One defended by Léandre Bergeron in his Charte de la langue québécoise and his Dictionnaire de la langue québécoise is that the most colloquial variety of Quebec French, historically "le joual", represents the distinctive language of Quebec. Hence all these guides to "expressions québécoises" that purport to teach the most colourful and distinctive phrases.

In this perspective there is a continuum from standard French on the one hand to québécois on the other. Some people speak "le français" and others speak "le québécois".

The other position - and the one I take - is that the Quebec has a national language called le Québécois, a distinctive variety of French that has developed in Québec. Like any national language, it has its varieties and registers. Just as American English or the American language, in the words of H.L Mencken, has its different varieties that we call slang, vernacular, standard, academic, formal, etc. so does le Québécois.

In this perspective, one could speak of "le québécois familier ou populaire, le québécois standard, le québécois soutenu, le québécois littéraire." In other words "québécois" is not synonymous with the working-class vernacular that used to be called "joual."

The point of all this is that le québécois is the national language of a territory and covers many varieties.

Let me take a specific example. As this very moment, there is in Quebec an investigative commission called la Commission Charbonneau that is investigating corruption in the construction industry. All the proceedings are televised on the Internet, and it is quite fascinating. There is the president, Mme la juge Charbonneau, some lawyers and various witnesses.

Do they all speak in the French depicted in chapter 1 of @Arekkusu's book? Certainly not. Well then, what are they speaking. Certain features described in the book will appear but basically what you hear at the commission is standard québécois French. It is the socially neutral variety of language used by educated individuals in public settings.

Everybody, including the judge, understands the vernacular described by @Arekkusu and will use it or elements of it for whatever effect.

I believe that restricting "le québécois" to the most spectacular and differentiated slang variety of the language spoken in Quebec is to do disservice to the language. It basically maintains the distinction between "le bon français" and "le québécois."

To avoid this old distinction, I think it is more appropriate to use the term "québécois" for the entire language, just as we speak of "cinéma québécois" or "littérature québécoise" and then differentiate between the various varieties.

In a similar vein, a guide to the French of France would not present slang French, l'argot, le verlan or the titi parisien as "le français." It is true that millions of French people speak in argot or slang but you wouldn't call it the French language without specifying the kind of French.




Edited by s_allard on 23 October 2012 at 7:00pm

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Arekkusu
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 Message 36 of 167
23 October 2012 at 6:57pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
The point of all this is that le québécois is the national language of a territory and covers many varieties.

[..]

I believe that by restricting "le québécois" to the most spectacular and differentiated slang variety of the language spoken in Quebec is to do disservice to the language. It basically maintains the distinction between "le bon français" and "le québécois."

I've also met people who were sternly against the use of the word "québécois", insisting that we speak the same French as in France and that we should call in French. Personally, I don't think using either term does any disservice to anyone or anything.
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s_allard
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 Message 37 of 167
23 October 2012 at 7:26pm | IP Logged 
The debate is really about the politics of national language. If I were writing a book about British English, would I take London cockney and describe it as "British English"? If I were writing a guide to American English, would I take the slang vernacular of Brooklyn and call it "American English?" And, as I pointed out in the case of France, would I take the slang variety called l'argot and call it "le français?"

In all these cases, the authors would put in the title of their publications some reference to the variety of English or French being described. There are many books in French on "le français populaire, le français argotique, l'argot, le français ordinaire, le français non-conventionnel" that describe the vernacular variety of French.

I don't want to make a big deal out of this. By suggesting "Le québécois familier/populaire/ordinaire/argotique en 10 leçons" as a better title, I think it gives a more accurate picture of the language spoken in Quebec. I know that distinctions are made in the introduction inside the book, but I think that the title could be made more accurate. And this will eliminate criticism from people who say, and rightly so, that not all Québécois speak this way.
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Sprachprofi
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 Message 38 of 167
23 October 2012 at 7:37pm | IP Logged 
When making a book about Sächsisch (Saxonian German dialect), it is not necessary to
specify that that is how people will speak colloquially among themselves and that the
written language or the language used on official occasions will necessarily be closer
to Hochdeutsch. It is also not necessary to specify that people living in Saxony who
are less in touch with their Saxonian heritage, or those whose parents moved to the
area, may not speak the dialect, or may only copy a few of its characteristics. That
doesn't make Sächsisch any less the full collection of characteristic differences that
you will see when listening in on an informal conversation between the natives of
Saxony. You cannot redefine Sächsisch to be part Hochdeutsch part Sächsisch just
because the locals mix in more or less Hochdeutsch depending on the situation.

Your comparison regarding Cockney or Brooklyn slang is invalid because these are local
subforms that could never qualify as "British" or "American". Neither does Alexandre's
book deal with local varieties such as the dialect of Joliette.

Edited by Sprachprofi on 23 October 2012 at 7:47pm

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s_allard
Triglot
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Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
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 Message 39 of 167
23 October 2012 at 8:01pm | IP Logged 
Sprachprofi wrote:
When making a book about Sächsisch (Saxonian German dialect), it is not necessary to
specify that that is how people will speak colloquially among themselves and that the
written language or the language used on official occasions will necessarily be closer
to Hochdeutsch. It is also not necessary to specify that people living in Saxony who
are less in touch with their Saxonian heritage, or those whose parents moved to the
area, may not speak the dialect, or may only copy a few of its characteristics. That
doesn't make Sächsisch any less the full collection of characteristic differences that
you will see when listening in on an informal conversation between the natives of
Saxony. You cannot redefine Sächsisch to be part Hochdeutsch part Sächsisch.

Your comparison regarding Cockney or Brooklyn slang is invalid because these are local
subforms that could never qualify as "British" or "American". Neither does Alexandre's
book deal in local varieties such as the dialect of Joliette.


Let's reflect a moment on the title of the book "Le québécois en 10 leçons." This is not a region of France. So, we are not looking at a regional dialect of French. I would think that most readers here would think that the title in question refers to the French language spoken in Quebec.

If I see a book that says "Le français en 10 leçons" or an Assimil title like "Le russe sans peine", I would be extremely surprised to open the book and find that it teaches French or Russian slang. If the titles were "Le français populaire en 10 leçons" or "Le russe argotique sans peine", I would know exactly what I am getting.

Similarly, I'm 100% sure that no "Guide to American English" teaches only slang.

All I'm saying is that the title "Le québécois en 10 leçons" would be more accurate and I think sell better if it said "Le québécois populaire en 10 leçons" because that would be a better description of the contents.

Please note that I am not criticizing the contents of the book. I think it is very good. I'm not saying the title is bad. I'm suggesting that it could be improved by being more accurate.

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s_allard
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 Message 40 of 167
23 October 2012 at 8:25pm | IP Logged 
One of the problems of distinguishing between "le québécois" and "le français" is that it is easy to fall into the trap of saying certain things are said in "québécois" and not in "français" and vice versa. In reality, the distinction should be between "le québécois populaire" and "le québécois standard."

Let me give a concrete example. On page 4, the author says "Les pronoms sujets du québécois diffèrent de ceux du français" and goes on to list certain québécois forms such as: y mange, a mange, y mangent, t'arrive, al arrive. With some slight variations, all these forms are to be found in the popular spoken French of France.

What we see in all the popular spoken varieties of French is the dropping of the "l", various contractions and reductions.

On the same page, we see that in québécois the subject pronoun "nous" is replaced by "on" and the "ne" of the negation "ne...pas" is rarely used. It is exactly the same in the spoken French of France.

All the author has to do is say "Les pronoms sujets du québécois populaire diffèrent de ceux du québécois standard" and everything would be perfect. The linguistic differences are not between québécois and français but between social varieties of each language.



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