Mois de la Francophonie à l’Université d’Ottawa

Posted on Tuesday, March 1, 2022


As you know, the University of Ottawa is the largest bilingual (English-French) university in the world. Since 1848, the University has implemented many measures to promote the French language, including the creation of the French immersion stream, which allows students to take courses taught in French. In 2021, some 30% of students at uOttawa speak French, and 15% are international students.

During the Mois de la Francophonie, which runs from March 1 to 31, the University celebrates the richness and vitality of the various cultures that make up the Francophonie. Where do our Francophone students come from? What characterizes their respective cultures? Here’s your chance to learn more about them.



Quebec French is essentially the French spoken by Francophones in Quebec. Quebec French has a number of particularities, which are especially noticeably when spoken. The French spoken in Quebec varies by region.

Here are a few typically Quebecois expressions:

astheure – maintenant (now)

avoir de la broue dans le toupet être complètement débordé (to be completely overwhelmed)

se calmer le pomponreprendre son calme, se calmer (to calm down)



The French language is also spoken throughout Morocco, namely in both educational and government sectors.

In Morocco, several Arabic words sound like their equivalents in French:

Froui dmer for fruits de mer (seafood)

Bato for bateau (ship)

Taxi for, well you guessed it, …  taxi.



Belgium has three official languages: Dutch, French, and German. French is spoken more or less, depending on the region. The French spoken in Belgium is a regional variation of the language that has unique characteristics!

Here are a few examples typical of French spoken in Belgium:

oufti! – ça alors, (an exclamation like holy cow)

jatte – tasse  (cup) 

douf  – chaleur étouffante (a stifling heat)

aller à la cour  – aller aux toilettes (to go to the washroom)


Democratic Republic of Congo 

French remains the official language of the Democratic Republic of Congo, despite the country’s independence. Most Congolese people speak three languages: their dialect, the national language, and French, the official language of colonialization.

Here are a few expressions or words typical of the French spoken in Congo:

attraper l’argenttravailler, gagner sa vie  (to work, earn a living)

avoir les boules – avoir de l’imagination (to be imaginative)

un danger – une personne ingénieuse  (a resourceful person)



Several Francophone students at the University of Ottawa are Franco-Ontarian. On September 25, 2013, the University unveiled the Monument de la francophonie to celebrate Franco-Ontarian Day. Located centrally on the University’s main campus,  near Perez Hall and the Félix Leclerc memorial, the Monument de la francophonie serves as a meeting place and rallying point for the University community.



French is one of the official languages of Burundi. It is especially used and learned in school and in official settings, including in government.

Several Kirundi words in Burundi sound similar to their French equivalents, namely:

Trein – train, (train)

Centvil– centre-ville, (downtown)



French is the official language of the Republic of Haiti, along with Haitian Creole, which is derived from French.

Here are a few expressions typical of the French spoken in Haiti:

Petit-déjeuner – déjeuner  (breakfast)

Donner ou prendre une roue libre –  prendre quelqu’un en stop  (to pick up a hitchhiker)

Blocusembouteillage (traffic jam)




Tunisia is a Francophone country. As in Morocco, French is widely used in business, medical, and cultural settings.

Several Arabic words used in Tunisia sound like their equivalents in French:

Sirrô (شراب) – sirop (syrup)

Guitara (قيثارة) – guitare (guitar)



France is the second-most populous Francophone country in the world, after the Democratic Republic of Congo, but it is still first in terms of the number of French speakers. Very widely spoken across France, French is indeed the “language of the Republic.”

Here are few expressions and words typical of the French spoken in France:

En faire tout un fromage – faire toute une histoire pour pas grand-chose  (to make a mountain out of a molehill)

Poser un lapin – faire attendre quelqu’un en n’allant pas au rendez-vous fixé  (to stand someone up)

Bonne poire – naïf  (someone who is naive, a sucker)


To learn more interesting Francophone expressions, check out our article on French idioms.

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