Joual Renaissance

with 41 comments

In Québec there is this long tradition of artists who’s real names might or might not be Bob Walsh and Steve Hill who earn a living performing american blues standards in the provinces innumerable blues festivals with the technical precision and soul of a catholic priest performing mass.  Then, once in a while,  someone comes along to remind us that blues can actually be good music and that Québec French, especially street Joual, could be Delta English’s closest relative.  Offenbach proved it in the 1980’s.  Bernard Adamus does it again this year.  “Singing in English would have made no sense.  I live in French, I love in French, I read in French”, says Adamus, who was born in Poland and sings about Coors light, winter in Longueuil and all things brown (the colour of love…)   Bernard Adamus is in France this week to show the cousins how it’s done.  Consider yourself uncool until you’ve got La question a 100 piastre and Rue Ontario on your iPod.

For a more representative sample of the mans work click here.

There is no doubt that Muzion’s La Vi Ti Neg is the only song (partly) in Haitian Kreyol to be on regular rotation anywhere on the National Hockey Leagues circuit (and for that you can thank my brother Vince).  J. Kyll, the lyricist responsible for that Kreyol verse, just broke a long silence with Spit White, an homage to Québec Joual.  “Damn it’s beautiful to hear you speak Joual”, she raps, “It sounds so real”.  Bobbing his head next to J. Kyll is Imposs, who, as far as we can tell by Youtube clips floating around the Internet has been adopted by Wyclef Jean and just might be getting ready to try to become the first Hip Hop artist to make it big in both the American and French scenes.  A Hip Hop Céline Dion?

Now here’s one for the people who like to say that Québec French and Joual are not “real French”.   Well, I dare any of the amateur linguists who have shared such wisdom on the blogs and internet forums of the world to tell me what Pure Laine Parigot Renaud is singing about in his classic Laisse Béton, shown above.  Yeah, thats what I thought…  France’s street French is as far from the standards of l’Académie française as the French spoken on the corner of Papineau and Beaubien.  Check out Québec City’s Keith Kouna Joual version of the song, called Oublie Ça (get it? Of course you don’t.)   Suddenly Joual sounds a lot more like “real French”, doesn’t it?

Joual in Germany?  Ya.  Franco-Deutch duo Stereo Total liked the 514 so much they called their entire album “Carte Postale de Montréal” and managed to get their hands on some residual sponsorship scandal money to put a big maple leaf on the cover.  Check out their cover of Corbeau’s Illégal, complete with a sincere yet flawed attempt to reproduce signer Marjo’s accent in the line: “C’est TOÉ, qui m’fait d’l’effet.”

Written by angryfrenchguy

November 21, 2009 at 6:01 pm

41 Responses

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  1. Je laugh de la way qu’a fall sur les kniggets!!! J’ai bursté mon nutsack!!!

    Jim Joyce

    November 27, 2009 at 9:14 pm

  2. Raman,

    “Do you think any kind of coalition between Franco-Ontarians, Québécois and Acadians is still possible ?
    I know some sociologists used to predict that would happen if Quebec ever broke out : That we would eventually be joined in by other French-Canadians.

    I may be a naive romantic, but I’d be willing to militate for that.”

    Je crois comprendre que tu es Acadien. Il est déchirant pour un franco-canadien de souhaiter voir le Québec utiliser les moyens de protéger la langue française d’une part et d’autre part craindre qu’il réussisse à s’affranchir définitivement du Canada.

    Les plus ardents défenseurs du français sont majoritairement souverainistes. Et crois-moi, il est aussi troublant pour les souverainistes de devoir abandonner leurs frères francophones du Canada.

    En 1979, le gouvernement de René Lévesque, rendait public un livre blanc expliquant son projet de souveraineté-association à être soumis au referendum de mai 80. Voici ce qu’il proposait à l’article 215:

    c) Communautés francophones
    et acadiennes du Canada
    215.Le gouvernement du Québec propose
    aux gouvernements des autres provinces
    qui souhaiteraient, tout comme lui, une
    accessibilité élargie à l’enseignement
    dans la langue de la minorité, de concevoir
    des ententes de réciprocité à cette
    fin. Le Québec est notamment disposé
    à conclure des accords qui prévoiraient
    l’accès à l’école anglaise aux
    citoyens anglophones des autres provinces
    venant s’établir au Québec, et
    ce, suivant les modalités qui s’appliquent
    aux anglophones du Québec247.”

    On appelait ça les ententes de réciprocité. C’est une idée qui mérite qu’on s’en souvienne.


    November 27, 2009 at 11:10 pm

  3. Ibus : « Je crois comprendre que tu es Acadien. »

    Non, je suis québécois.


    November 28, 2009 at 5:07 am

  4. …et souverainiste.


    November 28, 2009 at 5:12 am

  5. @ Jacques “I always found that this was a way of avoiding to accept french as a common language. It assures de degradation of french while assuring the necessity of english.

    It has it’s roots in mostly immigrant frequented schools and neighbourhoods, but I hear it more and more in professional and « French-Canadian » circles.”

    Personally, I disagree. I’ve found that there are two kinds of Franglais spoken, one by anglos who’s command of French is poor so they throw in an english word wherever they don’t know the french equivalent. I wouldn’t call this a new trend in any way, its merely just 2nd language french.

    The other, in my experience, is spoken mainly by young pur laines. I don’t get the impression that they are doing it out of a reluctance to accept french as a common language, I think they just think it sounds cool. Personally, all my francized allophone friends put the effort in to distinguish between French and English and generally avoid Franglais. I try to do the same myself.


    November 28, 2009 at 9:59 am

  6. Rory : «The other, in my experience, is spoken mainly by young pur laines. I don’t get the impression that they are doing it out of a reluctance to accept french as a common language, I think they just think it sounds cool.»

    You might add another factor to that :
    French kids don’t only learn and use English because it sounds cool. They also do it because it gives them more access to the World that surrounds them, both local and global.

    I know, as a kid, I longed to learn English because I was aware that there was an English-speaking world that was closed-up to me : Not only on the TV and radio, but also nearby, whenever I’d meet English-speaking kids in Montreal, in the Eastern-townships, and while travelling to Ontario or New-Brunswick with my family.

    What I thought “cool” was the idea of getting to know them.
    And what I find definitely “uncool” is when I realize how little interest English kids have in counterpart.

    The kids in “Éloge du Joual” talk about this. They retell how they are constantly told to speak English, even by Anglo kids who have learned French, or how they will be the targets of comments such as “Don’t mind him : He’s French…“.
    And I see it everyday in the school where I work, where kids (as much as their parents) never fail to demonstrate a dismaying ignorance of Quebec culture — the place where they were born and where they live ! –, all the while greeting their French classes with « French is useless anyway ! » comments.

    Not all of them have this attitude. Only about 9 in 10.


    November 28, 2009 at 5:54 pm

  7. @ Raman “You might add another factor to that :
    French kids don’t only learn and use English because it sounds cool. They also do it because it gives them more access to the World that surrounds them, both local and global.”

    Absolutely, and learning and language and reserving its use for those times when it can be a useful tool is a very smart thing to do. But the hybrid franglais slang that many young Quebecois speak amongst themselves strikes me as less of an exercise in expanding one’s access to the world and more of an esthetic choice.

    Now, I don’t care one way or the other what language two individuals speak between each other, but if you are someone who believes that the road to the assimilation of the Quebecois runs through Franglais as a common social language, then you’ll need to talk to your own people about that. This is one rare cases where the anglos aren’t to blame.


    November 29, 2009 at 1:47 pm

  8. I saw Bernard Adamus at Le Divan Orange last Friday. Had a blast. Thanks for introducing him to me through your blogue. I also discovered L’Oblique because I had to buy my ticket there. Ces petits découverts continuent à se presenter avec le temps.

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    December 8, 2009 at 11:47 am

  9. Dans le meme coin: l’Oblique pour les disques, La Boite Noire pour les films sur dvd, l’esco pour les shows, Le Billy kun pour l’ambiance..


    December 9, 2009 at 1:29 am

  10. ouais, j’ai déjà découvert la boîte noire. Très bonne sélection, mais cher en maudit. En tout cas, je trouve 95% des films que je veux voir gratuits à la grande bibliothèque.

    Le Bily Kun pour l’ambiance? J’irai cette fin de semaine. :-)

    Thomas Dean Nordlum

    December 9, 2009 at 10:24 am

  11. Not to copy Kid Disco, but where in California are you? You’re not that guy whose been driving back and forth past the Bruce Clay heteduaraqrs and shouting for Susan, are you? Oh my god, you are, aren’t you!


    December 30, 2013 at 7:44 am

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