'Deplorable' Quebecois accent has royal roots, linguist asserts

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Snobs in the French chattering classes have always made great sport out of mocking the unrefined accent of their Québécois cousins. Scholars have gone so far as to suggest that the language spoken by early Quebeckers was a patois scarcely related to French.

But an eminent Quebec linguist now contends that the roots of that relaxed accent, with its loose consonants, many contractions and pervasive “ay” sounds, can be found in the 17th-century court of Louis XIV.

“The Québécois accent is one from the noblesse of the time, it is a relaxed, natural accent,” Jean-Denis Gendron, a retired professor from Laval University, argues in the October edition of Quebec Sciences. “It's only much later that our accent came to be viewed as an abomination.”

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