Anglicisms in Québécois French

French in France and French in Canada have, unsurprisingly, evolved differently, and whilst both include Anglicisms, these can be different in each version of French.

A good illustration of this I encountered in my time in Québec is the following: Whereas speakers of French from France might say J’ai stationné ma voiture dans le parking, a Québécois speaker would probably say J’ai parké mon char dans le stationnement. (I parked my car in the car park).

This also shows a tendency I observed for French speakers in Québec, when speaking very informally, to take a verb in English, stick -er on the end, and use it as a ‘French’ verb! In the example above, we have parker to park, and I also heard checker to check (out) as in check ben ça look at that, joker to joke, braker to brake, and stocker to stock, feeler to feel (as in Il m’a fait feeler cheap he made me feel cheap), and so on.

Other Anglicisms I came across were ma blonde my girlfriend, cute, bécosse (supposedly from English backhouse) meaning bathroom, pinottes peanuts, and toffer (from English to tough it out).

On the other hand, there has been quite an anti-Anglicism movement in Québec. Whereas people in France will talk of going to faire du shopping, Québécois will go faire du magasinage; in France you might eat a donut but in Québec you get un beigne; and the main one I noticed: whereas the French from France talk about le week-end, the Québécois always seem to say la fin de semaine.

There have even been attempts to preserve the French language in Canada by protecting it by law. In Québec, Bill 101 requires French to be the main language on any signage. Therefore, you will not see STOP signs as you would in France. Instead, they have Arrêt signs. You will not even see signs for KFC; instead you will find PFK (Poulet Frit Kentucky).

But language is continually changing and constantly “borrowing” words from other languages, so I think we will always see Anglicisms creeping in. What is interesting is which ones “catch on”.


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