Dialectologists and sociolinguists have conducted many studies of French, particularly since the 1960s, in the Maritimes, Newfoundland, Québec and Ontario, in both rural and urban areas, but the four western provinces have been relatively neglected up until recently.
Normally, Acadians and French-Canadian speakers understand one another easily. However, there are differences between Acadian French and Canadian French. The differential origins of settlers in Acadia and New France mentioned above are a key reason for these differences. Acadian French, spoken in the Maritimes and in parts of Québec (Magdalen Islands, southern Gaspé and certain villages on the north shore of the St Lawrence, including Havre-St-Pierre and Natashquan), is characterized by certain distinctive phonetic features, eg, retention of aspirated h as in en haut [ÿaho] "at the top"; use of the [u] vowel instead of the open [ø] one as in pomme [pum] "apple." It is also characterized by numerous words originating from regions south of the Loire; eg, éparer (Standard Fr. étendre, "to hang out [fishing nets] to dry"), charrette (tombereau, "cart"), remeuil (pis, "cow's udder"), coquemar (bouilloire de cuisiniére, "kettle"), lisse (perche de clôture, "fence post"), barge (meule de foin, "haystack") and bargou (gruau, "gruel") and by old French usages (archaisms) including some which did not survive in Canadian French, eg, je chantons/-tions (nous chantons/-tions, "we sing/sang"), ils chantont/chantiont (chantent/-taient, "they sing/sang"), bailler (donner, "give"), ne ... point (ne ... pas, "not)".
Canadian French, although spoken throughout an extensive geographic area, and having certain regional differences in vocabulary and pronunciation (Montréal, Québec City, central Québec, Saguenay-Lac Saint-Jean, the Ottawa valley, northern Ontario, etc.), is considerably more homogeneous than European French, which displays variation from region to region over a smaller territory. Canadian French still includes many of the linguistic features which were retained during the stage of language fusion mentioned above, ie, archaisms and dialectalisms, but it also includes borrowings from the FIRST NATIONS languages (see NATIVE PEOPLE, LANGUAGE), and from English (anglicisms), as well as French usages which were developed during later stages of the history of Canadian French (innovations).
The many archaic features of French (archaisms are also observable in other European languages spoken in the New World, including English) include retention of the 17th century [we] pronunciation in words like moi, toi, poil, "me", "you", "hair" (mod. French [mwa, twa, pwal]) and such expressions as mitan (modern Fr. milieu, "middle"), serrer (ranger, "to put in a safe place"), gager and gageure (parier and pari, "to bet" and "a bet"), noirceur (obscurité "darkness"), dalle (gouttiére d'un toit, "eavestrough"), menterie (mensonge, "lie"), à cause que (parce que, "because"), mais que (quand, dès que, "when, as soon as"), être après (être en train de, "to be in the process of") and preposition à to locate events in time, à soir, à matin, à tous les jours (ce soir, ce matin, tous les jours, "tonight,""this morning,""every day").
Dialectalisms, ie, usages which come from the dialects of Gallo-Romance, include words such as gadelle [from Norman] (Standard Fr. groseille à grappes "red/white currant"), garrocher [from Poitevin] (jeter, "throw"), barrer [from Norman and Poitevin] (fermer à clef, "to lock") and boucherie [from Poitevin] (abattage et préparation du porc "slaughtering and preparation of a pig").
Examples of French innovations include the development of a full-fledged system of diphthongized lengthened vowels, as in words like pâte ("paste" or "dough") or beurre ("butter") which can be pronounced as [paw:t] and [boew:R], and words like poudrerie [from poudre] ("powder") to refer to drifting blowing snow, pâté chinois (hachis parmentier, "shepherd's pie"), gardienne d'enfants and gardiennage, "baby sitter" and "baby sitting," vivoir "living room," notions which are designated by borrowings from English in European French: un baby sitter, le baby sitting, le living room.
The words from the First Nations languages which are still commonly used today are proof of a long history of contact between Francophones and Canada's indigenous peoples. They include babiche (mince lanière de cuir, "thin strip of leather"), boucane (fumée, "smoke"), atoca (canneberge, "cranberry"), pimbina (viorne trilobée, "cranberry tree"), achigan (perche noire, "black bass"), and ouaouaron ("bull frog").