PoutineExcerpt taken from the book The Story of French (Ch.10)

Anglicisms are another feature of French in America. Historically, the French and Quebeckers have had very different relationships with English. While the French have to deal with the relatively recent influence of English as a global language, French Canadians and Acadians have been dealing with the imposing local presence of English for centuries. This has resulted in many borrowings, such as poutine, the name of a Quebec dish of French fries and cheddar cheese curds with brown gravy. An English listener is always surprised to learn that poutine is a corruption of the English pudding, itself a deformation of the French word boudin (a type of blood sausage).

But anglicisms play completely different roles in European and Quebec French. In France they convey a certain chic. In Quebec, anglicisms are a clear marker of class and education, and are usually considered a sign of ignorance. But even if French Canadians have borrowed many words from English, these have hardly affected the phonetics of the French they speak. Borrowings, in fact, rarely affect phonetics or grammar, the skeleton of any language.

However, borrowings became so intense at the start of the nineteenth century, particularly in the cities, that they affected the structure of the French spoken in America. In Louisiana, in New England and in some communities of the Canadian West, many native francophones lost their capacity to conjugate verbs. For example, an anglicism such as “Il faut watcher son francois,” (you need to watch your French), inelegant as it is, is still structurally French. But “Il faut watch son francois” (which we heard in Acadia) shows that the speaker hasn’t mastered the basic system of verb conjugation in French. Today, if you have to go through a Canadian call centre (outside of Quebec), you will regularly hear recorded messages saying they will “répondre votre appel” (a calque of “answer your call”) and “accéder votre dossier” (from the English “access your file”)-proper French calls for the preposition à after the verbs in this context.