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Joual (French pronunciation: [ʒwal]) is the common name for the linguistic features of basilectal Quebec French that are associated with the French-speaking working class in Montreal which has become a symbol of national identity for a large number of artists from that area. Speakers of Quebec French from outside Montreal usually have other names to identify their speech, such as Magoua in Trois-Rivières, and Chaouin south of Trois-Rivières. Linguists reserve the term "joual" for the basilectal variety of Quebec French spoken in Montreal.[1]

Attitudes towards joual range from stigma to exaltation depending on forms and components of human communication such as social setting (formal/informal; public/private), channel (spoken vs. written; broadcast) and so on. Joual is often understood to have become a sociolect of the Québécois working class. However, it can no longer be strictly considered as such given two major events in the latter half of the 20th century: upward socio-economic mobility among the Québécois, and a cultural renaissance around joual connected to the Quebec sovereignty movement in the Montreal East-End. Today, many Québécois who were raised in Quebec during the last century (command of English notwithstanding) can understand and speak at least some joual.[citation needed]


Origin of the name joual

Although coinage of the name joual is often attributed to French-Canadian journalist André Laurendeau, usage of this term throughout French-speaking Canada predates the 1930s.

The actual word joual is the representation of how the word "cheval" (Standard French: [ʃəval], horse) is pronounced by those who speak joual. The weak schwa vowel [ə] disappeared. Then the voiceless [ʃ] was voiced to [ʒ], thereby creating [ʒval]. Next, the [v] at the beginning of a syllable in some regional dialects of French or even in very rapid speech in general weakens to become the semi-vowel [w] written ‹ou›. The end result is the word [ʒwal] transcribed as joual.

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