French Canadian Accents & Schwartz’s Deli

Posted by Jim Johnson on November 06, 2012 0 Comments

French Canadian Accents

We drove into Quebec to pursue recordings for the Canadian French accent. Much success! Happily, I met a number of Canucks who were more than willing to chat, even with my little recorder shoved into the mix.

I found French-speaking Quebec residents to be wonderfully open. I made my run of tourism offices, and almost all were fully cooperative. (Happily one person had a long chat with me before the supervisor said it should have never happened.)

There are definitely some differences from a purely French accent, though the differences are not significant. It really is more about the Canadian influence on the speakers’ English (versus the British influence on the English of most French people.) The biggest difference – in my first reflections on the accent – seem to be about the intonation pattern.

Montreal French & English

What still struck me more than the accent, or even the usual tourist reflections about the beautiful and striking history of Old Montreal, was how amazing the food was at Schwartz’s, Montreal’s Hebrew deli. Damn, that was some good food! Smoked meat, mmmm!

The accents were nothing like what else we had experienced in Montreal. Our understanding is that the east of Montreal is more French and the west is more English, but this was straight north of Old Montreal and also of Montreal’s shopping and business district. Ah, yes, of course: Hebrew deli!

We’d been told to go here by a friend who used to live in the city, and we were pleased to see it had just been the topic of a musical at a local theatre just a few months before our visit. The deli was a classic beyond our experience. It was now a cultural icon of Montreal.

Almost everyone there spoke English, including our middle eastern waiter. We were only a few short blocks north, but the culture had shifted severely. French Montreal was charming and wonderful, but the English-speaking Montreal satisfied the deeper desires of my belly, which trumps all.

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