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. At the beginning of the 20th century, "joual" was at best a kind of Creole that also fitted the description of a diatype more than any other categorization. Today, many Québécois who were raised in Quebec during the last century (command of English notwithstanding) can understand and speak at least some "joual".
The actual word joual is the representation of how the word cheval (horse) is pronounced by those who speak "joual". Cheval is usually pronounced as one syllable, [ʃval], by all francophones in the Francophonie. With this in mind, in the chain of speech some vowels and consonants undergo changes due to their environment. In the case of [ʃval], the Voiceless postalveolar fricative [ʃ] was voiced to become a Voiced postalveolar fricative [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.
|toé||toi||you or "ya"|
|m'a||je vais||I will|
|chus||je suis||I'm or "Ahm"|
|té||tu es (t'es)||you're or "yer"|
|ché||je sais||I know|
|pantoute||pas du tout||not at all|
|pis||puis / et puis||then / "So what?" / and|
|y||il||he or "'e"|
|ouais or ouin||oui||yeah or "yep"|
|y'a||il y a||there's or "there're"|
|ben||bien||well / very / many (context)|
|s'a||sur la||on the 'xyz' (feminine)|
|su'l||sur le||on the 'xyz' (masculine)|
|enté cas||en tous cas||in any case / anyways|
|Han?||hein ?||eh? huh? or what?|
|fa||fait||make or do|
|fak||donc (ça fait que)||so, therefore|
|mék||lorsque (from old French « mais que »)||as soon as|
|dins||dans les||in the|
|s'pas||ce n'est pas||it's not|
Although moé and toé are today considered substandard slang pronunciations, these were the pronunciations of Old French and French used by the kings of France, the aristocracy and the common people in all provinces of Northern France. After the 1789 French Revolution, the standard pronunciation in France changed to that of a stigmatized form in the speech of Paris, but Quebec retained the historically "correct" one, having been isolated from the Revolution by the 1760 British Conquest of New France.
Joual shares many features with modern Oïl languages, such as Norman, Gallo, Picard, Poitevin and Saintongeais though its affinities are greatest with the 17th century koiné of Paris. Speakers of these languages of France predominated among settlers to New France.
Another outstanding characteristic of Joual is the use of profanity called sacre in everyday speech.