Re: Emigrant culture change less than parent culture (was: Christianity Redux?)

From: Jean-Olivier Noreau (
Date: Wed 27 Apr 2005 - 05:34:45 GMT

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    I don't want to start a Quebec-France debate here but... You fail to remark that French, either Parisiens or provincials all have their particular expressions too. And what about the frequent use of english words by the French like "sponsor" or "parking" instead of "commanditaires" or "stationnement"? Mind you, we try as much as possible in Quebec to avoid these expressions.

    Quebeckers speak french. Most Quebeckers also speak english, the geo-political situation is in for a lot : 7 million Quebeckers in a sea of 330 million english speaking americans/canadians... Who do you think we do business with? Quebeckers have a slang inspired by the english language because our history is marked by the British Conquest. Quebeckers were once called Canadiens (note the 'e'). Since the Union of Lower and Higher Canada by the British Crown and passing through the Federation Act of 1867, the british living in Canada progressively started to call themselves Canadians (note the 'a' here), as the Canadian nation building process took place. Thus, Canadiens added the term 'French' to form French-Canadian. It must be reminded, however, that in terms of political representation and because of this forced union, French-Canadians were relegated to the governance, as a majority, only of the Province of Quebec. Also, before the 1960s, much of the economic activity in Quebec was a matter concerning either Americans or Canadians. It is not a surprise if the day-to-day language of Quebeckers was influenced by english. In those days, the common French-Canadian Joe didn't go to College or University. But in order to get some work, for employment purposes, one had to speak english, at least in Montreal and Quebec City!

    Much of the political and the economical was under the so-called "British rule". One must wait until the 1970's to see French recognized as the official language of the State, even thought french was the mother tongue of a whopping 88% of the population of the Province at that time. The National Assembly of Quebec (the provincial government) passed a law called the Charter of the French Language (infamously know as Bill 101) in 1977 because the people of Quebec felt that the French language had to be protected, promoted and encouraged in order to maintain its status in quality and quantity. This Law as been invalidated many times by the Supreme Court of Canada : it was deemed "inconstitutional"...

    So, from this point of view, your "memetic replication mechanism" looks more like infeodation and the failure to recognize the very existence of a nation, and its right to self-determination, also called sovereignty and/or national independance. If anyone here is interested in linguistics and memetics, a little walk down the "Quebec Studies" alley is a definitive must.

    Now, can anyone tell me why the French use the word "mail" or "e-mail" to describe electronic mail, when the lovely word "courriel" was invented here in Quebec (as a contraption of "courrier électronique") ?

    Jean-Olivier Noreau, étudiant
    Université de Montréal
      ----- Original Message ----- 
      Sent: Tuesday, April 26, 2005 4:22 PM
      Subject: SUSPECT SPAM - SUSPECT SPAM - Re: Emigrant culture change less than parent culture (was: Christianity Redux?)
      Dans un e-mail daté du 26/04/2005 20:51:30 Paris, Madrid, a écrit :
        I think that maybe this is an example of the general tendency of 
        emigrant culture to change less than the parent culture. From what I 
        hear the English dialect that is the closest to Elizabethan English is 
        spoken in the hills of Tennessee, which are still pretty isolated.
      Interesting remark,
      We, as French from the mother land of the French language, see a similar phenomenon with the French language spoken by the Cajuns in Louisiana. It preserved some old French words and expressions, even some old sentence construction.
      The phenomenon exists with Canadian French but to a lesser degree. 
      Canadian French has developped interesting words for products and concepts that appeared with the industrial revolution and later on the automobile and the consumer culture.
      While the Metropolitan French language used its own words for these new products and concepts, Canadian French often used the closest possible available French word to translate the English word : 
           Metropolitan French : voiture
           Canadian French : char
           English language : car
           Metropolitan French : boisson
           Canadian French : brevage
           English language : beverage
      Do we have here an adaptive memetic replication mechanism ?
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