U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Maine
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 03-28-2018, 11:02 AM
 
Location: East Coast
678 posts, read 808,330 times
Reputation: 452

Advertisements

I'm interested in visiting some of the Maine towns along the New Brunswick border which, according to Wikipedia, are primarily French-speaking.

It seems that Madawaska, Frenchville, Van Buren, etc. are all 80%+ French as a mother tongue.

However, while browsing around these towns on Google Maps, everything seems to be in English. I can understand, being in the US, how official signage is in English, but even business names and advertising seem to be all or almost all in English. This seems odd to me.

Anybody have any experience with these towns? Can I pop into a store/restaurant and reasonably expect to be served in French? Or is English primarily used in public, despite the vast majority of residents being Francophone?
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 03-28-2018, 11:49 AM
 
Location: Østenfor sol og vestenfor måne
17,731 posts, read 21,004,613 times
Reputation: 37767
Quote:
Originally Posted by ARrocket View Post
I'm interested in visiting some of the Maine towns along the New Brunswick border which, according to Wikipedia, are primarily French-speaking.

It seems that Madawaska, Frenchville, Van Buren, etc. are all 80%+ French as a mother tongue.

However, while browsing around these towns on Google Maps, everything seems to be in English. I can understand, being in the US, how official signage is in English, but even business names and advertising seem to be all or almost all in English. This seems odd to me.

Anybody have any experience with these towns? Can I pop into a store/restaurant and reasonably expect to be served in French? Or is English primarily used in public, despite the vast majority of residents being Francophone?
In towns in New Mexico where 80% speak Spanish as the mother tongue, all the signs are in English, too. Probably because the Spanish speaking residents serve both Spanish and English speaking customers in a vast-majority English speaking country.

I wouldn't let signage be the sole indicator of what languages are spoken in an area.

But, full disclosure, I have not been to that part of Maine, so as for the reality on the ground there, I can not say.

In my opinion, the places you are most likely to see signage in non-English languages is places with huge amounts of recent immigrants like NYC or LA. The Francophones in Maine and Spanish speakers in New Mexico are multi-generational Americans in relatively sparsely populated parts of the country.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-28-2018, 12:04 PM
 
Location: Caribou, Me.
6,933 posts, read 5,021,410 times
Reputation: 5218
The signs are in English, but French is commonly spoken.
I have also thought that was strange.
But it was true even 100 or 150 years ago, when there was almost no English spoken in the Valley (St. John Valley).
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-28-2018, 12:21 PM
 
Location: Pennsylvania/Maine
2,341 posts, read 1,328,553 times
Reputation: 3461
Been to Lubec a few times, Campobello over the border. Never encountered French...
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-28-2018, 12:22 PM
 
945 posts, read 2,125,237 times
Reputation: 1189
I assume you are familiar with the Acadian history. If not, I'm sure you will find it fascinating. The first Acadian settlement was on St Croix Island not far from Calais. That settlement didn't last much more than one winter, but Acadians, who were of French decent settled in the Maritime Provinces. They were quite a large population by the 1750's. At that point there was the French and Indian war. French and Indians on one side, British on the other. That lead to some of the Acadians being exiled by the British. After our Revolutionary War, Loyalists, who were Americans sympathetic to Britain fled to Canada, and they finished the job. You will find a lot of the Acadians fled to Northern Maine, Western New Brunswick, and Quebec. New Orleans got the Cajun influence from Acadians who fled there. So to answer your question, from about Van Buren north, there will be a strong Acadian influence. Most people will be bilingual. You will hear conversations spoken where half is in English and half in French. I once asked some folks why they do that. Figured they were talking about the non-French speaking folks when they flipped to French. The answer was they talk in the language the thought passed through the brain in. They don't even notice that they did it. So anywhere North of Caribou, Northwest NB and all of Quebec will be strongly Acadian culture. New Brunswick is officially bilingual so you will see signs in both languages. Maine will be in English, but trust me, there is a lot of French spoken. Lastly, someone from France would have a hard time understanding an Acadian. Acadians do not speak textbook French by and large. It is there own version.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-28-2018, 01:09 PM
 
Location: East Coast
678 posts, read 808,330 times
Reputation: 452
Merci pour toutes les réponses!

I totally get official signage being in English, but it was the advertising that I would have expected to be in French (or at least bilingual!). Though, if the French-speakers are all bilingual and the English speakers are not, I'd imagine there aren't any political or cultural issues with English-only advertising (as opposed to, say, Quebec), so that could be the reason.

To me, Acadian French is largely understandable, but perhaps it's because I'm more accustomed to Quebec French and not French from France.

At any rate, I find the idea of going to a restaurant in the United States and being able to order in French intriguing, hence my interest in visiting
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-28-2018, 01:29 PM
 
Location: DC area
82 posts, read 72,049 times
Reputation: 139
The St John River Valley used to be much more French-speaking than it is today. Sadly, the language is fading. Many young people there now speak only English, but you can still find many older people (and some younger ones) with whom to converse in French, although many may be shy to speak with you if you speak the "good" French learned in school. Most local Francophones speak Brayon.... which is a mix of informal, colloquial Quebecois and Acadian French.


The signs are in English because it is the only language of literacy on the U.S. side. The schools teach through English. So, Valley French speakers read and write generally only in English--written French is a foreign language!
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-28-2018, 01:34 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
24,925 posts, read 31,871,114 times
Reputation: 10226
I posted this on here about 9 years ago:


http://www.city-data.com/forum/7133201-post10.html


I haven't been to that restaurant since then though, so no idea if they still have a chansonnier.


I'd assume that in a decade or so French has probably eroded away a bit more, but there were so many people speaking it back then I bet it's still very much in use by at least a chunk of the population.


One thing I've noticed in that area is that given that it's small and isolated, if people don't recognize you or don't think you're a local they'll speak to you in English. I suspect they might have some reticence about speaking to you in French if you have an anglo accent as well. My wife and I didn't have this issue as our accents in French (being Canadian) are close enough to those of the locals. Though not quite the same either.


Oh and BTW the restaurant was called the Sporting Club of Long Lake. It's in a town called St. Agatha I think. Though all of the people we spoke to referred to it as Sainte-Agathe.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-28-2018, 01:36 PM
 
Location: Gatineau, Québec
24,925 posts, read 31,871,114 times
Reputation: 10226
Quote:
Originally Posted by zalewskimm View Post
Been to Lubec a few times, Campobello over the border. Never encountered French...
That's quite a bit further south than the area we're talking about. Down in that area it's fully English speaking on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border.
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 03-28-2018, 02:28 PM
 
Location: Montreal > Quebec > Canada
533 posts, read 531,142 times
Reputation: 342
While searching on Google Streetview (this thread made me curious), I found some signs in French, like this one in St.Agatha, for example : https://goo.gl/maps/7ccYxyVLpMx

The sign says "Bienvenue à St Agatha, municipalité hôtesse du congrès mondial acadien de 2014"

Many Acadian flags too.

https://goo.gl/maps/SSBZR9JSA2R2
https://goo.gl/maps/X8DuABwXBzz
Rate this post positively Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:


Settings
X
Data:
Loading data...
Based on 2000-2020 data
Loading data...

123
Hide US histogram


Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > U.S. Forums > Maine

All times are GMT -6.

© 2005-2021, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Contact Us - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 - Top