When the French abandon “suddenly” for “faque”

Fafa? What makes French people who settle here drop their characteristic “suddenly” to adopt the “faque”, so dear to Quebecers? Tsé, that some absorb the accent from here, and others not? This is what two researchers from the University of Montreal are trying to understand.

When she arrived in the metropolis seven years ago, Frenchwoman Nadège Fournier noticed with astonishment that her compatriots living here sometimes had a completely different accent from hers.

A linguistics student, she turned her question into a doctoral project to find out to what extent the French living in Montreal adopted elements of Quebec French. To answer this question, she teamed up with Julie Auger, professor in the department of linguistics and translation at the University of Montreal.

Over several years, they interviewed 35 French people, men and women, sometimes newly arrived in Montreal, sometimes here for more than eight years.


Julie Auger, professor in the linguistics and translation department at the University of Montreal

Already, an observation emerges: it is “very common” for “du coup” to be replaced by “fak”, or “faque”.

“In France, many people criticize the youngest, in particular, who say “suddenly” every three words. The people who are here acquire the “faque”. They don’t pronounce it quite like us, they often say “féque”. But we see that it’s something that is integrated into their speaking,” says Mme Auger.

Another observation: the longer they have been in Quebec, the more the “here it is” tends to be replaced by “that’s it”.

Professor Auger notes that French people, among themselves, sometimes say that to integrate into Quebec, it is better not to keep your way of speaking.

“It is said that if you always speak in the French way, with your mouth crooked, as they say, you risk being left out,” says Julie Auger.

Some participants confided that they would like to speak like Quebecers, but fear that it would be perceived “as a mockery,” says Nadège Fournier.

In general, participants say that the accent and the words (of Quebec French) do not bother them, but a good number do not like the syntax. They find that there are French mistakes, orally, or in journalistic articles. I am given examples like “I fell”, or “I am going” instead of “I am going”.

Nadège Fournier, doctoral student in linguistics at the University of Montreal

Mme Fournier adds that as a linguist, she “does not judge”.

Participants also said that they correct their children when they make such mistakes, but “put “tabarnak” in interviews,” says Nadège Fournier with a laugh.

In this regard, Julie Auger explains that sociolinguistic studies show that people benefit from speaking like the people around them. “We do it unconsciously. We do it because we want to establish connections, build something together,” she explains.

Toé and moé, from France to Quebec

The participants who were interviewed come from Paris, but also from the north and west of France, regions where French speaking shares traits with Quebec French.

Moé, toé, it exists in Normandy. We can say believe instead of believe. Saying asteure for now is something that existed everywhere in France, but which no longer exists in good French. It has disappeared in Paris, but it persists in the west and north of France.

Julie Auger, professor in the linguistics and translation department at the University of Montreal

As part of this study, we will therefore seek to know if people from these regions are more inclined to adopt Quebec vocabulary or turns of phrase unlike Parisians, for example, who could be more resistant to modifying their French. .

Do they take other tricks from here? Julie Auger points out that the French rarely use inversion when asking questions. They will say “are you coming to see me tomorrow?” » rather than “are you coming to see me tomorrow?” “.

“In Quebec, it’s a construction that we use a lot. It’s not familiar, nor non-standard. In fact, the French think we speak well when we say that,” says Mme Auger.

The acquisition of another variety of one’s language varies depending on each person’s individual journey: with whom one shares one’s life, with whom one works, or not. “There are a lot of factors that vary,” says Julie Auger.

Nadège Fournier is a good example of the influence of those around her: for four years, she shared her life with a Beauceron.

“At that point, I adopted more Quebecois elements,” she says. She then heard herself say “tsé” or “in any case” at the beginning of a sentence, adopted the “moé itou”, or “but let me do that”.

But she notices that over the past three years, her way of speaking has changed again. “It’s dynamic,” she says.

Learn more

  • 65,550
    Number of French people living in Montreal

    source: Consulate General of France in Quebec

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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