The three types of Quebecisms explained by linguist Marie-Éva de Villers

The three types of Quebecisms explained by linguist Marie-Éva de Villers
The three types of Quebecisms explained by linguist Marie-Éva de Villers

Whether they are relics of an older French, creations born from Quebec reality or borrowings from foreign languages, words specific to Quebec, known as Quebecisms, exist in several forms. The author of Multidictionary of the French languageMarie-Éva de Villers, dissects the differences with The duty.

In the 1970s, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) listed three types of Quebecisms, specifies the linguist. The age of the publication is not to be feared, since “it would still be relevant today,” she says.

Although each category has its own characteristics, for Mme de Villers, they all have one thing in common: they reflect the Quebec language and society.

Words forgotten elsewhere

The first category are words which, for the rest of the French-speaking world, would be “old or outdated, but which, in Quebec, are completely contemporary”. The example of the word “goodwill”, which has lost its meaning of store customers in the rest of the French-speaking world, particularly comes to mind. “Achalandage” has also evolved in Quebec to become “simply those who frequent a place,” she indicates.

Certain words originating from France still exist as much in the world of the French-speaking world as in La Belle Province. This is the case of “wardrobe”, which meant a closet – the meaning kept in Quebec – but which now means a set of clothes elsewhere.

The author of Multidictionary also notes that archaisms, by their real names, are the Quebecisms most recognized as such by the population, even though they are not the most widespread in the language.

Created for Quebec

The medal for the most extensive category goes to the second type, which contains words — or meanings of words — created in Quebec in order to express a reality specific to the province.

For example, the words “maple grove” and “aluminum smelter” were created to reflect the reality of important industries in Quebec. “In the rest of the French-speaking world, it’s simply “aluminum factory”. Here, a word was needed. »

A large part of the words forming this category are creations which aim to avoid borrowings from English. “Email” and “podcast” are good examples, underlines the linguist. Certain creations of the OQLF aiming to avoid anglicism attempt to be implemented in other French-speaking countries. Rarely with as much success as here, she says.

Anglicisms and other borrowings

All words that have been directly borrowed from other languages, mainly English and indigenous languages, make up the last category.

For English, Marie-Éva de Villers notes words like “coroner” or “duplex”, for which the translation does not exist or is not exact. Note that certain words are simply anglicisms or false friends and are therefore not Quebecisms strictly speaking.

For indigenous languages, they mostly provided proper names, like “Quebec,” or animal names, like “bullfrog” — M’s favoriteme de Villers for this guy.

As for his favorite Quebecism? These are the word “tag” and its derivative “tager”, which belong to the category of words created to name realities specific to Quebec.

It is not the primary meaning of an “object which helps with navigation” which is his favorite, but rather the specific meaning in Quebec of orienting by giving landmarks – which, historically, were bits of Trees placed along roads to indicate their route.

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