- Acadian French
Acadian French Français acadien Spoken in Canada:
Prince Edward Island
Native speakers 372,000 (1996)
Language family Language codes ISO 639-3 – Linguist List fra-aca Linguasphere 51-AAA-hoAcadian French This page contains IPA phonetic symbols in Unicode. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters.
Acadian French (French: Français acadien), is an extremely regionalized dialect of the much larger dialect variety of European French, Canadian French. It is spoken exclusively by a vast majority of the francophone population of the Canadian province of New Brunswick, by small minorities in several diminutive areas in the Gaspé region of eastern Quebec; an almost homogenously francophone province, by extremely small and isolated groups of francophones in Prince Edward Island, in several tiny pockets of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton, in the remote Magdalen Islands located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and a small swath of the northernmost portion of the U.S state of Maine. The vast, remaining majority of dominately-francophone Quebec speaks Quebec French.
Since there was no linguistic contact with France from the late eighteenth century until the twentieth century, Acadian French retained features that died out during the French standardization efforts of the nineteenth century. That can be seen in examples like:
- While other dialects (such as Metropolitan French) have a uvular rhotic, Acadian French has an alveolar one so that rouge ('red') is pronounced [ruʒ]
- The third-person plural ending of verbs -ont, e.g. ils mangeont [imɑ̃ʒɔ̃] ('they eat') as compared to Metropolitan French ils mangent [ilmɑ̃ʒ], which does not have an ending that is pronounced.
- The use of -ions (now only plural first-person ending of verbs) instead of -ais as the singular first-person ending, in the "imparfait" tense: e.g. j'avions, j'aimions, j'étions... instead of j'avais, j'aimais, j'étais... (meaning: I had, I loved, I was...). This was most likely due to the old pronunciation of -ais endings in France before Louis XIV came to power, which sounded like -ois in most cases (ex: françois for français, j'avois for j'avais, etc.)
Many aspects of Acadian French (vocabulary, alveolar "r", etc.) are still common in rural areas in the West of France. Speakers of Metropolitan French and even of other Canadian dialects sometimes have minor difficulties understanding Acadian French.
- /k/ and /tj/ is commonly replaced by [tʃ] before a front vowel. For example, quel, queue, cuillère, quelqu'un and cul are usually pronounced tchel, tcheue, tchuillère, tchequ'un and tchu. Tiens is pronounced tchin [tʃɛ̃].
- /ɡ/ and /dj/ often become [dʒ] (sometimes [ʒ]) before a front vowel. For example, bon dieu and gueule become bon djeu and djeule in Acadian French. Braguette becomes brajette. (This pronunciation led to the word Cajun, from Acadian.)
Metathesis is quite common. For example, mercredi (Wednesday) is mécordi, and grenouille (frog) is guernouille. Je (the pronoun "I") is frequently pronounced euj.
In words, "re" is often pronounced "er". For instance :
- berloque for "breloque", berouette for "brouette" (wheel-barrow), ferdaine for "fredaine", guerlot for "grelot", s'entertenir for "s'entretenir".
Pronunciation of oi
- oui, (yes) sounds like ouaille or Modern French ouais meaning yeah (oua is also used).
- trois, (three) can sometimes sound like tro' (originally troé).
Elision of final r
- The r in words ending in -bre is often not pronounced. For example, libre (free), arbre (tree), timbre (stamp) would become lib', arb' and timb'
- In the Nova Scotian communities of Wedgeport and Pubnico the numbers soixante-dix (seventy), quatre-vingts (eighty) and quatre-vingt-dix (ninety) are instead called septante, huitante and nonante respectively.
- The /ɛr/ sequence followed by another consonant sometimes becomes [ar] or [ɑʁ]. For example, merde and perdre become màrde and pàrdre. This rule is also abundantly consistent in the Quebec French, however the a is nasal (â).
- deux, (two) can sometimes sound like doy.
Examples of Acadian words
The following words and expressions are most commonly restricted to Acadian French, though some can also be found in Quebec French.
- achaler: to bother (Fr: ennuyer)(very common in Quebec French)
- ajeuve: (variation of achève, literally to complete) a while ago (Fr: récemment, tout juste)
- amanchure: thing, thingy, also the way things join together: the joint or union of two things(Fr: chose, truc, machin)
- amarrer: (literally, to moor) to tie (Fr: attacher)
- amoureux: (lit. lover) burdock (Fr: (capitule de la) bardane; Quebec: toque, grakia) (also very common in Quebec French)
- asteur: now (Fr: maintenant, à cette heure, désormais)(very common in Quebec French)
- attoquer: to lean (Fr: appuyer)
- avoir de la misère: to have difficulty (Fr: avoir de la difficulté, avoir du mal)(very common in Quebec French)
- bailler: to give (Fr: donner)(very common in Quebec French)
- boloxer: to confuse, disrupt, unsettle (Fr: causer une confusion, déranger l'ordre régulier et établi)
- boucane: smoke, steam (Fr: fumée, vapeur)(very common in Quebec French)
- bouchure: fence (Fr: clôture)
- brâiller: to cry, weep (Fr: pleurer)(very common in Quebec French)
- brogane: work shoe, old or used shoe (Fr: chaussure de travail, chaussure d'occasion)
- brosse: drinking binge (Fr: beuverie)
- caler: to sink (Fr: sombrer, couler) (also "to drink fast in one shot", caler une bière)(very common in Quebec French)
- chassis: window (Fr: fenêtre)
- chavirer: to go crazy (Fr: devenir fou, folle)
- chu: I am (Fr: je suis, or, colloquially chui)(very common in Quebec French)
- cotchiner: to cheat (Fr: tricher)
- de service: proper, properly (Fr: adéquat, comme il faut)
- ej: I (Fr: je)
- élan: moment, while (Fr: instant, moment)
- erj: and I (Fr: et je suis)
- espèrer: to say welcome, to invite (Fr: attendre, inviter)
- faire zire: to gross out (Fr: dégouter)
- farlaque: loose, wild, of easy virtue (Fr: dévergondée, au moeurs légères)
- frette: cold (Fr: froid)(very common in Quebec French)
- fricot: traditional Acadian stew prepared with chicken, potatoes, onions, carrots, dumplings (lumps of dough), and seasoned with savoury
- garrocher: to throw, chuck (Fr: lancer)
- hardes: clothes, clothing (Fr: vêtements)
- harrer : Battre ou traiter pauvrement, maltraîter
- hucher: to cry out (Fr: appeler (qqn) à haute voix)
- innocent: simple, foolish or stupid (Fr: simple d'esprit, bête, qui manque de jugement)(very common in Quebec French)
- itou: also, too (Fr: aussi, de même, également)(common in Quebec French)
- maganer: to overwork, wear out, tire, weaken (Fr: traiter durement, malmener, fatiguer, affaiblir, endommager, détériorer)
- mais que: when + future tense (Fr: lorsque, quand (suivi d'un futur))
- mitan: middle, centre (Fr: milieu, centre)
- païen: (lit. pagan) hick, uneducated person, peasant
- pire à yaller/au pire à yaller: at worst (au pire)
- plaise: plaice (FR: plie)
- ploye: buckwheat pancake, a tradition of Edmundston, New Brunswick (Fr: crêpe au sarassin)
- pomme de pré: (lit. meadow apple) American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) (Fr: canneberge; Quebec: atoca)
- poutine râpée: a ball made of grated potato with pork in the centre, a traditional Acadian dish
- qu'ri: (from quérir) to fetch, go get (Fr: aller chercher)
- se haler: (lit. to haul oneself) to hurry (Fr: se dépêcher)
- se badgeuler: to argue (Fr: se disputer)
- j'étions: we are
- ils étiont: they were
- taweille: Native American woman, traditionally associated with sorcery (Fr: Amérindienne)
- tchequ'affaire, tchequ'chouse, quètchose, quotchose: something (Fr: quelque chose)("quètchose" is common in Quebec French)
- tête de violon: ostrich fern fiddlehead (Matteuccia struthiopteris)
- tétine-de-souris: (lit. mouse tit) slender glasswort, an edible green plant that grows in salt marshes (Salicornia europaea) (Fr: salicorne d'Europe)
- tintamarre: din (also used to refer to an Acadian noisemaking tradition)
- vaillant, vaillante: active, hard-working, brave (Fr: actif, laborieux, courageux)
- Acadian English Wordlist from Webster's Online Dictionary - The Rosetta Edition
- Les Éditions de la Piquine Online Acadian Glossary with audio - (Website is only in French)
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