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Joual (French pronunciation: [ʒwal]) is the common name for the linguistic features of basilectal Quebec French that are associated with the French-speaking working class in Montreal which has become a symbol of national identity for a large number of artists from that area. Speakers of Quebec French from outside Montreal usually have other names to identify their speech, such as Magoua in Trois-Rivières, and Chaouin south of Trois-Rivières. Linguists tend to eschew this term, but historically some have reserved the term joual for the variant of Quebec French spoken in Montreal.
Like most regional and class variants of a widely spoken language, joual is stigmatized by some and celebrated by others. While joual is often considered a sociolect of the Québécois working class, that perception is outdated. Both the upward socio-economic mobility among the Québécois, and a cultural renaissance around joual connected to the Quiet Revolution in the Montreal East-End have resulted in joual being spoken by people across the educational and economic spectrum. Today, many Québécois who were raised in Quebec during the last century (command of English notwithstanding) can understand and speak at least some joual.
The language levels of the population are diverse today, particularly following the adoption of Bill 101. However, slang and other basilectal varieties of Quebec French are still very present in Quebec culture. This phenomenon occurs through music, storytelling, television, radio, in movies and in conversations.
Origin of the name joual
The actual word joual is the representation of how the word cheval (Standard French: [ʃəval], horse) is pronounced by those who speak joual. The weak schwa vowel [ə] disappeared. Then the voiceless [ʃ] was voiced to [ʒ], thereby creating [ʒval]. Next, the [v] at the beginning of a syllable in some regional dialects of French or even in very rapid speech in general weakens to become the semi-vowel [w] written 〈ou〉. The end result is the word [ʒwal] transcribed as joual.
Most notable or stereotypical linguistic features
Although moé and toé are today considered substandard slang pronunciations, these were the pronunciations of Old French and French used in all provinces of Northern France—by the royalty, aristocracy and common people. After the 1789 French Revolution, the standard pronunciation in France changed to that of a previously-stigmatized form in the speech of Paris, but Quebec French continued to evolve from the historically older dialects, having become isolated from France following the 1760 British conquest of New France.
Joual shares many features with modern Oïl languages, such as Norman, Gallo, Picard, Poitevin and Saintongeais though its affinities are greatest with the 17th century koiné of Paris. Speakers of these languages of France predominated among settlers to New France.
English loanwords (Anglicisms)
- Bécosse: From backhouse, used generally in the sense of a bathroom. Unlike most borrowing, this one can sometimes be seen written, usually as shown here.
- Bicycle or bécik: Bicycle
- Bike or bécik: Motorbike
- Braker: pronounced [bʁeke]. Verb meaning "to brake".
- Breakeur: Circuit breaker (disjoncteur). Still very often used nowadays.
- Bum: Bum
- Bumper: Bumper
- Caller: [kɑle]. Verb meaning to phone someone.
- Checker or chequé: Verb meaning to check something (out), as in "Check ben ça" ("Check this out.")
- Coat: Winter jacket (only for the clothing item), never in the sense of "layer".
- Chum: [tʃɔm]. Most often in the sense of boyfriend, often simply as a male friend of a male.
- Dash: dashboard
- Dumper: [dõpe]. To throw in the trash, to deposit something, or to break up with someone. --Usually actually spelled and pronounced "domper". (In hockey, domper la puck: to dump the puck)
- Enfirouaper: To cheat someone. This comes from "in fur wrap". Centuries ago, fur traders would sell a ballot of fur, actually filled with cardboard in the middle.
- Flat: A flat tire, called une crevaison in Standard French. Can also mean a belly flop.
- Frencher: [fʁɛntʃe]. To French-kiss.
- Hood: Carhood
- Lift: Previously used only in the sense of giving a lift to someone in one's vehicle, now used to designate any kind of lift.
- Mossel: Muscle.
- Peppermint, usually pronounced like paparman or "peperman"
- Pinotte: Peanuts. Unlike most other borrowings, this one is sometimes seen written, usually spelled like here. (also a street slang for amphetamines)
- les States: [le stei̯t]. Used when referring to the USA.
- Tinque : Usually [tẽːk]. Used in the sense of "container": Tinque à gaz [fuel tank].
- Toaster: [tostɚ]. Toaster.
- Tough: [tɔf]. Tough.
- Truck: [tʁɔk]. Truck.
- Trunk: pronounced tRung. Car trunk
- Suit: suit.
- Ski-doo: Snowmobile (based on Bombardier's Ski-Doo brand).
- Skring : Window screen
- Windshield: pronounced win-sheer. windshield
Some words were also previously thought to be of English origin, although modern research has shown them to be from regional French dialects:
- Pitoune (log, cute girl, loose girl): previously thought to come from "happy town" although the word "pitchoune" exists in dialects from southern France (possibly coming from the Occitan word "pichona", "little girl") and means "cute girl".
- Poutine: was thought to come from "pudding", but some have drawn a parallel with the occitan term "podinga", a stew made of scraps, which was (in Montreal) the previous use of the term.
|toé||toi (from classic French pronunciation of toi)||you (singular, oblique)|
|moé||moi (from classic French pronunciation of moi)||me|
|pis||et puis||and (then)|
|m'a, j'vas [ʒvɔ]||(moi) je vais||I will (am going)|
|j'fas||je fais||I am doing|
|té, t'es||tu es||you are|
|tsé (tsé là), t'sais||tu sais||you know|
|j'ré, j'rai, chèille||je serai||I will be|
|j'cres, j'cré||je crois||I believe|
|pantoute||pas du tout (de pas en tout)||not at all|
|a||elle (elle a)||she (she has)|
|ouais or ouin||oui||yeah, yep|
|y'a [jɔ]||il y a||there is|
|tout l'||tout le||all of the|
|ben||bien||well / very / many (context)|
|bengadon||bien regarde-donc||well look at that|
|s'a [saː]||sur la||on the [something] (feminine)|
|su'l||sur le||on the [something] (masculine)|
|anyway, en tout cas [ã tu̥ kɔ], entécas||en tout cas||in any case, anyway (from English "anyway")|
|enweille (donc), àweille (donc)||envoye (donc), allez||come on, let's go|
|déhors or dewors||dehors||outside, get out!|
(from "à cette heure(-ci)")
|maintenant||now, right now|
|han ?||hein ?||eh? huh? or what?|
|fak, fat que||donc (ça fait que)||so, therefore|
|mék, maique||lorsque (from old French « mais que »)||as soon as|
|dins||dans les||in the (plural)|
|c'pas [spɔ]||ce n'est pas||it's not|
|end'ssour, end'ssou||en dessous||under|
|s'assir, s'assoère||s'asseoir||to sit down|
|ak, ac, a'ec||avec||with|
|à soère||ce soir (à soir)||tonight|
|àmandonné, aman'né||à un moment donné||at some point, at any given time|
|c't'un||c'est un||it's a|
|ch't, j't, chus||je suis (un)||I am|
|kétaine, quétaine||mauvais gout (Mode)||tasteless, cheesy (fashion)|
|fif||éfféminé||feminine (can also mean queer)|
|tapette (une)||pédé (un)||queer (derogative)|
|grand slack||grand et mince||tall and skinny (from English "slack")|
|smatte (tu es)||gentil||kind (you are) (from English "smart")|
|t'sul||mettre sur||put on|
|vert (tu es)||inexpérimenté||unexperienced (being new, "green", to something)|
|trou d'cul||enfoiré||ass hole|
|panel (un)||camionnette, fourgon||van (panel van, cargo van)|
|Drette là||Ici même (droit là)||Right there|
|Aweille !||Bouge !||Move!|
|Ç'a d'l'air à ça||Ça resemble à ça||It looks that way|
|J'te dis||Je te dis||I tell you|
|J'toute fourré||Je suis confus||I'm so confused|
|J'cogne des clous||Je suis épuisé||I'm so tired|
|Checke-moé le don||Regarde (donc) ce gars là||Look at that guy|
|Stacose, C't-à-cause||Parce que (c'est à cause de)||Because (it is because of)|
|Stacé||C'est assez||That's enough|
|Viarge||Putain !||Damn !|
|Grouille (toé)||Dépêche-toi||Hurry up|
|Y pue d'la yeul||Il pue de la gueule||He has bad breath|
|Chus dan marde||Je suis dans le pétrin (Je suis dans la merde)||I'm in trouble (I'm in shit)|
- Quebec French
- Quebec French lexicon
- Quebec French profanity
- French language
- English language
- Gilles Lefebvre, «Faut-il miser sur le joual?» Le Devoir 1965, 30 octobre; «L'étude de la culture: la linguistique.» Recherche sociographiques 3:1-2.233-249, 1962; Henri Wittmann, 1973. «Le joual, c'est-tu un créole?» La Linguistique 1973, 9:2.83-93.
- Marc Picard, "La diphtongue /wa/ et ses équivalents en français du Canada." Cahiers de linguistique de l'Université du Québec 1974, 4.147-164.
- Henri Wittmann, "Le français de Paris dans le français des Amériques." Proceedings of the International Congress of Linguists 16.0416 (Paris, 20-25 juillet 1997). Oxford: Pergamon (CD edition). 
- Gilles Charest, Le livre des sacres et blasphèmes québécois. Montréal: L"Aurore, 1974; Jean-Pierre Pichette, Le guide raisonné des jurons. Montréal: Les Quinze, 1980; Diane Vincent, Pressions et impressions sur les sacres au Québec. Québec: Office de la langue française, 1982.
- The standard reference to this subject is Gilles Colpron, Les anglicismes au Québec: Répertoire classifié. Montréal: Beauchemin.
- Gaston Dulong, Dictionnaire des canadianismes. Québec: Larousse Canada, 1989, p. 180.