Quebec 11

Listen to Quebec 11, a 55-year-old man from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Click or tap the triangle-shaped play button to hear the subject.

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AGE: 55

DATE OF BIRTH (DD/MM/YYYY): 16/04/1967

PLACE OF BIRTH: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

GENDER: male

ETHNICITY: White/Canadian

OCCUPATION: teacher and editor

EDUCATION: bachelor’s degree in English literature and diploma in teaching English as a second language


In the 1980s, the speaker did one year of pre-university studies at an international college in Singapore. In the early 1990s, he was trained as a language teacher for three months in the United Kingdom. He taught for a year in Poland.


He attended only English-language elementary and high schools. He was enrolled in a French immersion program from sixth grade to graduation. Almost all of his socializing was conducted in English. School materials were usually printed either in Toronto or New York. Growing up, his preferences in media (pre-internet) were North American and some British, such as Hollywood films, Billboard magazine, The New York Times, and The Guardian, but also a good smattering of British and Irish pop bands.

He’s had some exposure to media in Spanish, Italian, Swedish, and other European languages throughout early adulthood to today and has a keen interest in French cinema. He enjoys British comedies, such as Monty Python and Fry and Laurie. His studies and interests in literature are varied, from Johnson to James Joyce to Jean Rhys, and from Willa Cather to West Side Story.

The text used in our recordings of scripted speech can be found by clicking here.

RECORDED BY: subject






So I am fluently bilingual in English and French. My mother is a ninth-generation French Canadian; she lives in Québec, and her first language is French. She learned English in high school and at work.

Selon les archives du Québec, les ancestres de ma mère sont arrivés en Nouvelle France dans le 17ieme siècle. Le premier de ces ancestres, un nommé François Séguin née à St-Aubin-en-Bray, en France, a marié en 1672 Jeanne Petit, fille du Roy, de La Rochelle en France. Ils ont eu 11 enfants.

[English translation: According to Quebec archives, my mother’s ancestors arrived in New France in the 17th century. The first of these ancestors, a man named François Séguin, born in St-Aubin-en-Bray, in France, married in 1672 Jeanne Petit, daughter of the Roy, from La Rochelle in France. They had 11 children.]

My father’s Canadian ancestry goes back five generations; he lived, he lives in Québec and was born, uh, bilingual and studied engineering at McGill University. Although I am fluently bilingual in English and French, I identify as an English-speaking, or anglophone, Canadian.

Uh, while growing up in Montreal, I only spoke French until kindergarten and then attended only English-language schools from the age of 5. Uh, I socialized almost entirely in English until my late teens— and, uh, even refused to speak French until the age of 14. I obtained a scholarship to attend an international college in Singapore before returning home to complete a bachelor’s degree in English literature at a university in Montreal. I was active-actively involved in theatre for most of my young adult life until I attended a teacher-training program in Oxford, England.

I went to teach — I went on to teach English at two Montreal universities for more than 10 years and became a managing editor of English-language textbooks for more than a decade.

Uh, the pronunciation of Montreal by an English speaker: If you pronounce it Montreal with a long o, uh, you probably don’t live in Montreal; you may identify more with American culture, or you are an American. Few Canadians pronounce the city this way. If you pronounce it Montreal with a short o (like the family name Munn), you are probably from Montreal or from another English-speaking country or region outside of North America. French speakers of course will pronounce it as Montréal (mon-réal).

Uh, the French-influenced English, um, includes, um, many different expressions. Uh, if you’re a student in Montreal and share a two-bedroom, or what’s called a 4 ½ apartment, your roommate might ask you to open or close an electrical appliance, like a computer, a stove, the TV, or the lights; and she or he might also ask you to turn on or off each appliance. When it’s time to clean up, you’ll hear your roommate say she’ll pass the vacuum, uh, instead of run the vacuum or do the vacuuming, or the hoovering.

If you’re close to the end of your studies, you might do a stage at a local business not an internship so that you complete your diploma or degree. When you pound the pavement, you’ll be asked for a CV [curriculum vitae] instead of a résumé. When you get that prized position in a great company, at lunch you might go out for a sandwich and be asked for your choice of bread and cold cuts, not deli meats. And then you’ll ask — then someone will ask you for your choice of soft drink, not pop or soda.

If you’re invited to someone’s home for paté chinois, it will be translated to you as shepherd’s pie. It’s not. You will get a no-frills variety of the familiar “pie” that is just mashed potatoes on top, cream of corn in the middle, and ground meat (or mincemeat) on the bottom. On your way over to your new friend’s place for paté chinois, don’t forget to buy your wine, or other small items, from a depanneur, not a corner store or a convenience store.

Um, if you get a promotion at work, you can splurge. You can rent or own a chalet for weekend getaways, not a summer cabin. You can also rent or own a summer house, but it’s usually not suitable for the long, harsh Quebec winters.

Once you have enough money, you can buy a car and drive on autoroutes, NOT highways, freeways, or motorways. Usually the word autoroute is said in full before the number, so you take Autoroute 10 or the 10. You don’t take the A10, because then you’ll sound like someone from France.







Because of my schooling and training, I think my reading of Comma Gets a Cure largely demonstrates that I have rhotic speech typical of the General American dialect. However, I believe my pronunciation of the words “cure,” “veterinary,” and “sentimental” tell a different story. The vowel in “cure” has a glide, closer to what was once called dainty Canadian; veterinary is reduced, also like the dainty variety as well; sentimental has rounded /t/s, which I think is influenced by my upbringing in west-end multicultural Montreal. The further along you listen, I think you’ll notice that my voice begins to sound more like an educated New England teacher, without the stereotypical Canadian “out.” Recently, I listened again to my favorite author, John Irving, in an interview, and I was reminded of how his way with words and his North American speech patterns have always been my inspiration, both in writing and speaking.



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