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Joual (French pronunciation: ​[ʒwal]) is an accepted 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 some. joual is stigmatized by some and celebrated by others. While joual is often considered a sociolect of the Québécois working class, many feel that perception is outdated.

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.[1]

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 20th century (command of English notwithstanding) can understand and speak at least some joual.


Many feel that Joual is a part of a present culture in Quebec: evident in music, storytelling, television, radio, in movies and in conversations.

Origin of the name joual[edit]

Although coinage of the name joual is often attributed to French-Canadian journalist André Laurendeau, usage of this term throughout French-speaking Canada predates the 1930s.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Most notable or stereotypical linguistic features[edit]

Diphthongs are normally present where long vowels would be present in standard French. There is also "sontaient, sonté" ("ils étaient, ils ont été").

Although moé and toé are today considered substandard slang pronunciations of toi and moi, these were the pronunciations of ancien régime 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.[2]

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.[3] Speakers of these languages of France predominated among settlers to New France. Their usage varies.

It could easily be argued that at least some aspects of more modern joual are further linguistic contractions of standard French. D'la, for instance (de la), whereas the word de has nearly fallen out of usage over time and has become contracted. This argument does apply to other words and this concept permeates universally throughout the French language.

Another outstanding characteristic of Joual is the use of profanity called sacre in everyday speech.[4]

English loanwords (Anglicisms)[edit]

There are a number of English loanwords in joual, although they have been stigmatized since the 1960s:[5] Their usage varies both regionally and historically.

  • 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
  • Bines: Beans
  • 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.[6]
  • 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-sheel. 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 language (also called Provençal or Languedoc) term "podinga", a stew made of scraps, which was (in Montreal) the previous use of the term.


Joual French English
toé toi (from classic French pronunciation of toi) you (singular, oblique)
moé moi (from classic French pronunciation of moi) me
pis, pis quoi et puis, puis quoi and then, So what
moé j'vo [ʒvɔ] moi je vais I will, I am going
Çé c'est It is
Les The (plural)
Ço [sɔ] Ça That
Po [pɔ] Pas Not
Lo [ʟɔ] There
j'fa, j'fasse, je fasse je fais I am doing
D'la De la Of the (feminine), from the (feminine), some (feminine), a quantity of (feminine)
té, t'es tu es you are
Il est He is, it is
tsé (tsé là), t'sais tu sais you know
je s'ré je serai I will be
j'cres, j'cré je crois I believe
pantoute pas du tout (de pas en tout) not at all
y il he
a, a'l'o elle, elle a she, she has
ouais or ouin oui yeah, yep
y'o [jɔ] il y a, il a there is, he has
toul', tou'l' tout le all of the
icitte ici here
ben bien well / very / many (contextual)
bengadon, ben r'gardon, ben gardon bien regarde-donc well look at
Ga don ço, gadon ço, r'gardon ço Regarde donc ça Look at that
su, d'su, de su sur, dessus on, over top of
su la sur la on the (feminine)
su'l sur le on the (masculine)
anyway, en tout co [ã tu̥ kɔ], entouco, entéco, ent'lé co en tout cas, en tous les cas in any case, however, anyway (from English "anyway" addition of this word is non-ubiquitous, but en tout co has broad usage)
Aweille!, Enweille! Envoye! Bouge! Allez! Send! Move! Go on! (contextual)
enweille don, àweille don envoie donc, allez come on
faite, fette saoul drunk
fette, faite, té faite fini, tu es fini finished, you are finished
nuitte nuit night
ti / 'tite, p'tite petit / petite small (masculine / feminine)
déhor, d'wor, dewor, dowor dehors outside, get out (contextual)
boutte (masculine) bout end, tip, bit (un ti boutte = un petit bout = a little bit or a little while)
toutte tout everything, all, the whole
litte lit bed
tusuite, tudsuite, tud'suite, tu'd'suite, toud'suite tout de suite right now
astheure, asteur
(from "à cette heure")
maintenant, couramment now, currently, from now on
han ? hein ? eh? huh? or what?
heille hey
frette froid cold
fait make/do
s'fèque, s'fà que, sfàk donc (ça fait que) so, therefore
mèk, mainque, main que lorsque (from old French « mais que ») as soon as, upon
dins, dan lé dans les in the (plural)
c'est, ceci est this is
c'pos, cé po, s'po[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 , èk, èque avec with
boète [bwaɪ̯t] boîte box
à soère, à swère ce soir (à soir is incorrect syntax) tonight
àmandonné, aman'né à un moment donné at some point, at any given time
bouette boue mud
c't'un, cé t'un, s't'un c'est un it's a
ch't, j't, chus je suis (un) I am
garah, gararh garage garage (non-ubiquitous usage)
char automobile car, short for chariot
tarla, con, nono stupide dumb
kétaine, quétaine mauvais gout (Mode) tasteless, cheesy (fashion)
fif, fifi éfféminé sissy, feminine male (can also mean queer, derogatory)
tapette (une) pédé (un) queer, feminine male, male homosexual or pre sex change male (all usage is derogatory)
grand slack grand et mince tall and skinny (from English "slack")
smatte (té), smartte (té) intélligent smart (you are) (from English "smart")
plotte chatte, vagin cunt, whore, pussy, vagina (contextually derogatory)
graine, grène pénis Cock, penis (graine is the literal translation of the word seed, contextually derogatory)
botare bâtard bastard
eulle l' le the
étchoeuré écœuré tired (annoyed)
t'su, d'su mettre sur put on
vert (té) inexpérimenté (tu es) (you are) unexperienced (being new, "green", to something, vert is the literal translation of the word green)
troud'cu, trou'd'cu, trou d'cul enfoiré, trou de cul ass hole (contextually derogatory)
panel (un) camionnette, fourgon van (panel van, cargo van, non-ubiquitous usage)
jarret, hârret mollet calf
lulu mèche (deux) twintails (non-ubiquitous usage)
Drette lo Ici même (droit là) Right there
Ça ressemble à ça It looks like that
J'te dis Je te dis I tell you
J'toute fourré, j's'tout fourré, schtout fourré Je suis confus I'm so confused, I'm all fucked up
J'cogne des clous Je suis épuisé I'm so tired
Checke-moé le don, Regarde le (donc) lui Look at him
Checke Fern, Checke checke Regarde ça/lui/elle, Regarde Look at him/her/that or simply look (gender neutral form, contextual, non-ubiquitous usage, circa 1980s but still holds meaning)
'Stacoze de'd, stacoze de, C't-à-cause de, c'est à cause de it is because of
'Stacé C'est assez That's enough
Viarge Putain ! Damn !
Grouille (toé) Dépêche-toi Hurry up
ta yeul!, la yeul!, ferme ta boète!, la ferme!, la farme! tais-toi! fermé la gueule shut up!, shut your animal mouth! (derogatory), shut your box! (derogatory)
Y pue d'la yeul (referring to a human male, Y means Il singular third person male whereas A (pronounced à) means Elle singular third person female) Ça pue de la gueule (animal), Il a la mauvaise haleine (human male) He has a stinky animal mouth, He has bad breath, He stinks from the mouth (gueule directly translates to animal mouth, hence the sentence is derogatory if relating to a human male. Pue is the literal translation of a conjugation of the verb to stink)
Chus dan marde Je suis dans le pétrin (Je suis dans la merde) I'm in big trouble (I'm in shit)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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.[1]
  2. ^ Marc Picard, "La diphtongue /wa/ et ses équivalents en français du Canada." Cahiers de linguistique de l'Université du Québec 1974, 4.147–164.
  3. ^ 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). [2]
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ The standard reference to this subject is Gilles Colpron, Les anglicismes au Québec: Répertoire classifié. Montréal: Beauchemin.
  6. ^ Gaston Dulong, Dictionnaire des canadianismes. Québec: Larousse Canada, 1989, p. 180.

External links[edit]