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Acadian French (French: français acadien) is a variety of Canadian French originally associated with the Acadians of what is now the Maritimes in Canada. It 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, it 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.

Acadian French
français acadien
Native toCanada, United States
RegionNew 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
 Nova Scotia
 Prince Edward Island
(Both regionally spoken)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
Acadian French.png
Acadian French
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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 varieties (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 varieties of French 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 oiEdit

  • 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 rEdit

  • 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 wordsEdit

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.

  • 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)[3]
  • 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)
  • 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)
  • batterie: the central passage through a barn (granges acadiennes) flanked by two storage bays adjacent to the eaves.[3]
  • besson: twin (Fr: jumeau/jumelle)
  • boloxer: to confuse, disrupt, unsettle (Fr: causer une confusion, déranger l'ordre régulier et établi)
  • Bonhomme Sept-heures: a fearful character of fairy tales who would visit unpleasant deeds upon young children if they did not go to bed at the designated hour.[3]
  • bord: (literally the side of a ship) l'autre bord meaning the other side (of a street, river, etc.); changer de bord meaning changing sides (in a team competition); virer de bord meaning turning back or retracing one's steps.[3]
  • 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)
  • coude: ship's knees that are a distinctive and unusual structural feature of early Acadian houses.[3]
  • Djâbe: Devil (Fr: Diable)
  • de service: proper, properly (Fr: adéquat, comme il faut)
  • èchell: (literally a ship's ladder) stairway (Fr: échelle)[3]
  • 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)
  • le grand mènage: spring cleaning, often more comprehensive than in other cultures.[3]
  • greer: (literally, rigging of a ship's masts) to describe a woman's attire or decoration of a youngster's bicycle.[3]
  • grenier: a sleeping loft.[3]
  • 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)
  • larguer: (literally loosening a ship's mooring lines) to let go of any object[3]
  • 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)
  • original: moose
  • païen: (lit. pagan) hick, uneducated person, peasant (Fr: )
  • palote: clumsy (Fr: maladroit)
  • parker: park (Fr: stationner)
  • pâté chinois: a "shepherd's pie" casserole of mashed potatoes, ground meat, and corn.[3]
  • 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)
  • pot-en-pot: a meat pie of venison, rabbits, and game birds.[3]
  • poutine râpée: a ball made of grated potato with pork in the centre, a traditional Acadian dish
  • quai: a portable wheeled boating pier pulled out of the water to avoid ice damage.[3]
  • 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)
  • tourtiéres: meat pies, sometimes with potatoes.[3]
  • 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.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Brassieur, C. Ray. "Acadian Culture in Maine" (PDF). National Park Service. United States Department of the Interior. Retrieved 3 January 2019.


External linksEdit