Canadian French (French: français canadien) refers to a variety of dialects of the French language generally spoken in Canada. In 2011, the total number of native French speakers in Canada was around 7.3 million (22% of the entire population), while another 2 million spoke it as a second language. At federal level, it has official status alongside English. At provincial level of government, French is the sole official language of Quebec as well as one of two official languages of New Brunswick, and jointly official (derived from its federal legal status) in Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. Government services are offered in French at select localities in Manitoba and Ontario (through the French Language Services Act), and to a lesser extent elsewhere in the country, depending largely on the proximity to Quebec and/or Québécois influence on any given region.
New England French, a dialect spoken in the northern New England is essentially a variety of Canadian French and exhibits no particular differences from the Canadian dialects, unlike Louisiana French and Louisiana Creole.
Quebec French is spoken in Quebec. Closely related varieties are spoken by francophone communities in Ontario, Western Canada and in the New England region of the United States and differ from Quebec French primarily by their greater conservatism. The term Laurentian French has limited application as a collective label for all these varieties, and Quebec French has also been used for the entire dialect group. The overwhelming majority of francophone Canadians speak this dialect.
Acadian French is spoken by over 350,000 Acadians in parts of the Maritime Provinces, Newfoundland, the Magdalen Islands, the Lower North Shore and the Gaspé peninsula. St. Mary's Bay French is a variety of Acadian French spoken in Nova Scotia.
Métis French is spoken in Manitoba and Western Canada by the Métis, descendants of First Nations mothers and voyageur fathers during the fur trade. Many Métis spoke Cree in addition to French, and over the years they developed a unique mixed language called Michif by combining Métis French nouns, numerals, articles and adjectives with Cree verbs, demonstratives, postpositions, interrogatives and pronouns. Both the Michif language and the Métis dialect of French are severely endangered.
Newfoundland French is spoken by a small population on the Port-au-Port Peninsula of Newfoundland. It is endangered — both Quebec French and Acadian French are now more widely spoken among Newfoundland francophones than the distinctive peninsular dialect.
Brayon French is spoken in the Beauce of Quebec; Edmundston, New Brunswick; and Madawaska, Maine. Although superficially a phonological descendant of Acadian French, analysis reveals it is morphosyntactically identical to Quebec French. It is believed to have resulted from a localized levelling of contact dialects between Québécois and Acadian settlers.
New England French is spoken in parts of New England in the United States. Essentially a local variant of Quebec French, it is one of three major forms of French that developed in what is now the U.S., the others being Louisiana French and the nearly-extinct Missouri French. It is endangered, though its use is supported by bilingual education programs in place since 1987.
There are two main sub-varieties of Canadian French. Joual is an informal variety of French spoken in working-class neighbourhoods in the province of Quebec. Chiac is a blending of Acadian French syntax and vocabulary with numerous lexical borrowings from English.
The term Canadian French was formerly used to refer specifically to Quebec French and the closely related varieties of Ontario and Western Canada descended from it. This is presumably because Canada and Acadia were distinct parts of New France, and also of British North America, until 1867. However, today the term Canadian French is not usually deemed to exclude Acadian French.
Phylogenetically, Quebec French, Métis French and Brayon French are representatives of koiné French in the Americas whereas Acadian French, Cajun French, and Newfoundland French are derivatives of non-koinesized local dialects in France.
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