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Canadian French Coherent Entity Notes

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Canadian French Coherent Entity Revision

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Olivia Alter "There is no such coherent entity as 'Canadian French'. Discuss." The history of the colonisation of Canada and subsequent language development has been well documented. In the seventeenth century, French colonists occupied two main regions, Acadia and New France, and despite most settlers coming from Western France, the dialects spoken in the two colonies varied: the majority in Acadia came from south of the Loire whilst half of those in New France were derived from north of the Loire. This suggests that there are inherent differences in the two varieties that developed, Acadian and what I shall call Québécois, and as such the umbrella term, Canadian French, is problematic. In order to assess whether the varieties can be comprehended under a uniform title, as they now tend to be, similarities and differences must be explored in their respective phonology, morphology, and lexicon. Differences that arise may only be superficial and therefore not fundamental to the denial of a coherent entity. Québécois is the most widely spoken French dialect outside France, and yet even within Québec one finds rural and urban varieties, such as those spoken in Montréal, Québec City and the Beauce region, which means there has been difficulty over the years in establishing a norm. Nevertheless, there are traits common to all varieties, most notably in the phonology. One of the main characteristics is the affrication of dental plosives before close front vowels. Hence /t/ and /d/ become [ts] and [dz] in words such 'petit' [pətsi]. This is obligatory in Québécois and explained by the pronunciation of older French dialects. Since there was a break in relations with France from the late eighteenth century onwards, varieties in Canada have retained features which were lost in the standardisation of European French from the nineteenth century onwards. Thus Acadian is notable, too, for its distinctive pronunciation of /t/ and /d/, except these are palatalised as [tʃ] and [dʒ] and even extend to the glottal /k/ and /g/ when they are followed by close vowels ('gueule' becomes [dʒøl]). Whilst this is an obvious difference between Québécois and Acadian, it does not constitute a change in meaning; the variable pronunciation is not significant because the underlying structure is still the same, and so the varieties, in this case, can be understood under the one term, Canadian French. The same may be said of other phonological variables, such as the dropping of /l/ in the third person subjects 'il/ils/elle/elles', which again is a preserved archaic trait, linking the seemingly contrastive varieties back to their roots in French dialects. Québécois differs in

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