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Acadian French

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Acadian French

Acadian French
français acadien
Native to Canada, United States
Region New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Magdalen Islands, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire
Native speakers
370,000 (1996, 2006)[1]
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog acad1238[2]
Linguasphere 51-AAA-ho
Acadian French

Acadian French (French: français acadien) is a dialect of Canadian French. It is spoken by the francophone population of the Canadian province of New Brunswick, by small minorities in areas in the Gaspé region of eastern Quebec, by small groups of francophones in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, in the Magdalen Islands in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and a small swath of the northernmost portion (St. John Valley) of the U.S state of Maine.


  • Characteristics 1
  • Phonology 2
    • Palatalization 2.1
    • Metathesis 2.2
    • Pronunciation of oi 2.3
    • Elision of final r 2.4
    • Numerals 2.5
    • Other 2.6
  • Examples of Acadian words 3
  • References 4
  • External links 5


Since there was relatively little linguistic contact with France from the late eighteenth century until the twentieth century, Acadian French retained features that died out during the French standardization efforts of the nineteenth century. That can be seen in examples like:

  • While other dialects (such as Metropolitan French) have a uvular rhotic, Acadian French has an alveolar one so that rouge ('red') is pronounced [ruʒ]
  • The third-person plural ending of verbs -ont, e.g. ils mangeont ('they eat') as compared to Metropolitan French ils mangent [ilˈmɑ̃ʒ], which does not have an ending that is pronounced.
  • The use of -ions (now only plural first-person ending of verbs) instead of -ais as the singular first-person ending, in the imparfait tense: e.g. j'avions, j'aimions, j'étions... instead of j'avais, j'aimais, j'étais... (meaning: I had, I loved, I was...). This was most likely due to the old pronunciation of -ais endings in France before Louis XIV came to power, which sounded like -ois in most cases (ex: françois for français, j'avois for j'avais, etc.).

Many aspects of Acadian French (vocabulary, alveolar "r", etc.) are still common in rural areas in the West of France. Speakers of Metropolitan French and even of other Canadian dialects sometimes have minor difficulties understanding Acadian French. Within North America, its closest relative is the Cajun French spoken in Southern Louisiana as the two were born out of the same population that were affected during the Grand Derangement.

See also Chiac, a variety with strong English influence, and Saint Mary's Bay French, a distinct variety of Acadian French spoken around Clare and also Tusket, Nova Scotia.



  • /k/ and /tj/ is commonly replaced by [tʃ] before a front vowel. For example, quel, queue, cuillère, quelqu'un and cul are usually pronounced tchel, tcheue, tchuillère, tchelqu'un and tchu. Tiens is pronounced tchin [tʃɛ̃].
  • /ɡ/ and /dj/ often become [dʒ] (sometimes [ʒ]) before a front vowel. For example, bon dieu and gueule become bon djeu and djeule in Acadian French. Braguette becomes brajette. (This pronunciation led to the word Cajun, from Acadien.)


Metathesis is quite common. For example, mercredi (Wednesday) is mécordi, and grenouille (frog) is guernouille. Je (the pronoun "I") is frequently pronounced euj.

In words, "re" is often pronounced "er". For instance :

  • berloque for "breloque", berouette for "brouette" (wheel-barrow), ferdaine for "fredaine", guerlot for "grelot", s'entertenir for "s'entretenir".

Pronunciation of oi

  • oui (yes) sounds like ouaille or Modern French ouais meaning yeah (oua is also used).
  • trois (three) can sometimes sound like trouo (originally troé).

Elision of final r

  • The r in words ending in -bre is often not pronounced. For example, libre (free), arbre (tree), timbre (stamp) would become lib', arb' and timb'


  • In the Nova Scotian communities of Wedgeport and Pubnico the numbers soixante-dix (seventy), quatre-vingts (eighty) and quatre-vingt-dix (ninety) are instead called septante, huitante and nonante respectively, a phenomenon also observed in Swiss French.


  • The /ɛr/ sequence followed by another consonant sometimes becomes [ar] or [ɑr]. For example, merde and perdre become marde and pardre. This rule is also abundantly consistent in the Quebec French, however the a is a back vowel (â).
  • deux (two) can sometimes sound like doy.

Examples of Acadian words

The following words and expressions are most commonly restricted to Acadian French, though some can also be found in Quebec French.

  • baratte: a piece of machinery or tool of sorts that doesn't work properly anymore. My car is a lemon so it is a baratte (very common in New Brunswick)
  • achaler: to bother (Fr: ennuyer) (very common in Quebec French)
  • ajeuve: (variation of achèver, literally "to complete") a while ago (Fr: récemment, tout juste)
  • amanchure: thing, thingy, also the way things join together: the joint or union of two things (Fr: chose, truc, machin)
  • amarrer: (literally, to moor) to tie (Fr: attacher)
  • amoureux: (lit. lover) burdock (Fr: (capitule de la) bardane; Quebec: toque, grakia) (also very common in Quebec French)
  • asteur: now (Fr: maintenant, à cette heure, désormais) (very common in Quebec French)
  • attoquer: to lean (Fr: appuyer)
  • avoir de la misère: to have difficulty (Fr: avoir de la difficulté, avoir du mal) (very common in Quebec French)
  • bailler: to give (Fr: donner) (very common in Quebec French)
  • besson: twin (Fr: jumeau/jumelle))
  • boloxer: to confuse, disrupt, unsettle (Fr: causer une confusion, déranger l'ordre régulier et établi)
  • boucane: smoke, steam (Fr: fumée, vapeur) (very common in Quebec French)
  • bouchure: fence (Fr: clôture)
  • brâiller: to cry, weep (Fr: pleurer) (very common in Quebec French)
  • brogane: work shoe, old or used shoe (Fr: chaussure de travail, chaussure d'occasion)
  • brosse: drinking binge (Fr: beuverie) (common in Quebec French)
  • caler: to sink (Fr: sombrer, couler) (also "to drink fast in one shot", caler une bière) (very common in Quebec French)
  • char: car (fr:voiture) (very common in Quebec French)
  • chassis: window (Fr: fenêtre)
  • chavirer: to go crazy (Fr: devenir fou, folle)
  • chu: I am (Fr: je suis, or, colloquially chui) (very common in Quebec French)
  • cotchiner: to cheat (Fr: tricher)
  • de service: proper, properly (Fr: adéquat, comme il faut)
  • ej: I (Fr: je) (common in Quebec French)
  • élan: moment, while (Fr: instant, moment)
  • erj: and I (Fr: et je suis)
  • espèrer: to say welcome, to invite (Fr: attendre, inviter)
  • faire zire: to gross out (Fr: dégouter)
  • farlaque: loose, wild, of easy virtue (Fr: dévergondée, au moeurs légères)
  • frette: cold (Fr: froid) (very common in Quebec French)
  • fricot: traditional Acadian stew prepared with chicken, potatoes, onions, carrots, dumplings (lumps of dough), and seasoned with savoury
  • garrocher: to throw, chuck (Fr: lancer) (very common in Quebec French)
  • hardes: clothes, clothing (Fr: vêtements)
  • harrer : to beat, maltreat (Fr: battre ou traiter pauvrement, maltraîter)
  • hucher: to cry out (Fr: appeler (qqn) à haute voix)
  • innocent: simple, foolish or stupid (Fr: simple d'esprit, bête, qui manque de jugement) (very common in Quebec French)
  • itou: also, too (Fr: aussi, de même, également) (common in Quebec French)
  • maganer: to overwork, wear out, tire, weaken (Fr: traiter durement, malmener, fatiguer, affaiblir, endommager, détériorer) (very common in Quebec French)
  • mais que: when + future tense (Fr: lorsque, quand (suivi d'un futur))
  • mitan: middle, centre (Fr: milieu, centre)
  • païen: (lit. pagan) hick, uneducated person, peasant (Fr: ')
  • parker: park (Fr: stationner)
  • pire à yaller/au pire à yaller: at worst (Fr: au pire)
  • plaise: plaice (Fr: plie)
  • ploye: buckwheat pancake, a tradition of Edmundston, New Brunswick (Fr: crêpe au sarrasin)
  • pomme de pré: (lit. meadow apple) American cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon) (Fr: canneberge; Quebec: atoca)
  • poutine râpée: a ball made of grated potato with pork in the centre, a traditional Acadian dish
  • qu'ri: (from quérir) to fetch, go get (Fr: aller chercher)
  • se haler: (lit. to haul oneself) to hurry (Fr: se dépêcher)
  • se badgeuler: to argue (Fr: se disputer)
  • j'étions: I was (Fr: j'étais)
  • ils étiont: they were (Fr: ils étaient)
  • taweille: Mikmaq woman, traditionally associated with sorcery. Has become considered vulgar. (Fr: Amérindienne)
  • tchequ'affaire, tchequ'chouse, quètchose, quotchose: something (Fr: quelque chose) (quètchose is common in Quebec French)
  • tête de violon: ostrich fern fiddlehead (Matteuccia struthiopteris) (Fr: )
  • tétine-de-souris: (lit. mouse tit) slender glasswort, an edible green plant that grows in salt marshes (Salicornia europaea) (Fr: salicorne d'Europe)
  • tintamarre: din (also used to refer to an Acadian noisemaking tradition) (Fr: )
  • vaillant, vaillante: active, hard-working, brave (Fr: actif, laborieux, courageux) (common in Quebec French)


  1. ^ Canadian census, ethnic data Archived July 25, 2009 at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^

External links

  • Acadian English Wordlist from Webster's Online Dictionary - The Rosetta Edition
  • Les Éditions de la Piquine Online Acadian Glossary with audio - (Website is only in French)
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