Canadian French vs. Parisian French Slang

Before you book your trip to Montreal, there’s one thing you should study up on: Québécois. Québécois is (obviously) the dialect of French spoken in Quebec, and has huge differences from the Parisian French you may have already learned.

The biggest difference between Canadian French and Parisian French is vocabulary. From curse words to everyday slang, each region has its own particular sayings. And a word can even be completely innocent in one dialect, but carry a negative connotation in the other!

So which terms should you use in Quebec to avoid any misunderstandings? The following list can help. Below are 10 Québécois terms that differ from Standard French:

1. Blonde

Blonde is the Québécois term for girlfriend—even if her hair isn’t blonde! In French, one would use petite-amie refer to his or her girlfriend.

2. Brailler

Brailler is Canadian substitute for pleurer, which means to cry. Fun Fact: the French sound effect for crying is ‘ouin-ouin’.

3. Breuvage

In Quebec, a beverage would be called a breuvage, not a boisson. Breuvage actually carries a negative connotation in France!

4. Portable

Talking about your cell phone? Cellulaire is the best word to use. Portable, the word used in France, would be confused for a laptop in Quebec.

5. Bagnole

Akin to the Parisian word bagnole, char is Québécois slang for a car.

6. Chum

Chum usually refers to boyfriend, but can be used for someone of any gender. The French equivalent would be petit(e) ami(e).

7. Crème Glacée

Crème glacée is the Québécois word for ice cream. Glace, which means both ice and ice cream in France, only refers to ice in Quebec.

8. Dépanneur

In Quebec, a dépanneur refers to your local convenience store. There’s no universal word for this in France, but Parisians call them arabes.

9. Espadrilles

Contrary to your initial thought, espadrilles are not just those canvas summer shoes! Instead of baskets, espadrilles is Canadian French for sneakers.

10. Gosse

Gosse is the biggest evidence for why learning nuances are so important. In France, gosse is an innocent, playful term for a child. But in Canadian French, les gosses refer to testicles! So when you’re in France, don’t be alarmed if someone starts talking about how cute his gosses are!

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Now that you’re on your way to mastering Québécois, schedule a Lex! It’s the easiest, most fun way to get ready for your trip to Montreal. But remember to steer clear of the word ‘gosses’!

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