Acadian French

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Acadian French
français acadien
Native to Canada, United States
Region New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire
Native speakers
370,000 (1996, 2006)[1]
Official status
Official language in
 New Brunswick
Recognised minority
language in
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Glottolog acad1238[2]
Linguasphere 51-AAA-ho
Acadian French.png
Acadian French
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Acadian French (French: français acadien) is a dialect of Canadian French originally associated with the Acadians of what is now the Maritimes in Canada. The dialect is still spoken by the Francophone population of the Canadian province of New Brunswick, by small minorities on the Gaspé Peninsula and the Magdalen Islands of Quebec as well as in pockets of Francophones in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. In the United States, the dialect is spoken in the Saint John Valley of northern Aroostook County, Maine. Besides standard French, New England French is the predominant form of French spoken elsewhere in Maine.


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 [imɑ̃ˈʒɔ̃] ('they eat') as compared to Metropolitan French ils mangent [ilˈmɑ̃ʒ], which does not have an ending that is pronounced.[citation needed]

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 Expulsion of the Acadians.

See also Chiac, a variety with strong English influence, and St. Marys Bay French, a distinct variety of Acadian French spoken around Clare, Tusket, Nova Scotia and also Moncton, New Brunswick.



  • /k/ and /tj/ is commonly replaced by [tʃ] before a front vowel. For example, quel, queue, cuillère and quelqu'un are usually pronounced tchel, tcheue, tchuillère and tchelqu'un. 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 [tʁ̥wɔ] (originally [tʁ̥wɑ]).

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'



  • The /ɛr/ sequence followed by another consonant sometimes becomes [ar] or [ɑr]. For example, perdre becomes 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.
  • "Salut" (hello/salutations) if often shortened to s'lut.

Examples of Acadian words

The following words and expressions are most commonly restricted to Acadian French, though most are also used in Quebec French (also known as Québécois) or Joual.

  • 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 achever, 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: (contraction of à cette heure) 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) (Usually "to yawn") (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)
  • d'avenu: you are welcome (Fr: de rien) (uncommon term)
  • Djâbe: Devil (Fr: Diable)
  • 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 wait; 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: )
  • palote: clumsy (Fr: maladroit)
  • 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, also common in Acadian communities in Maine (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 badjeuler: 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 and "quechose" is common in Quebec French)
  • tête de violon: ostrich fern fiddlehead (Matteuccia struthiopteris)
  • 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)
  • 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. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin, eds. (2017). "Acadian". Glottolog 3.0. Jena, Germany: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.


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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