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South-western Ontario has contributed to the history of the French language. Father Pierre Philippe Potier, first pastor at Assumption, arrived at le Détroit in 1744. Born in Belgium, he was fascinated by the variety of French spoken in Canada and upon his arrival began to note in a scribbler all the words and expressions which were new to him. No less than 63 among the hundreds of terms he recorded were first attestations, that is, words or meanings appearing for the first time written in French. Here are a dozen words that today are part of general French, recorded for the first time in the Detroit area:

couette: tuft of hair held in place by a barrette
crépissage: plastering; the act of plastering a wall
débiter: to cut up (meat)
é ponger: to soak up liquid with a sponge
é quipement: equipment
flâner: to hang about, to lounge about
gaffer: to grab, to steal, to hook
galipote (courir la galipote): to go gallivanting, go wenching
retaper: to con or fool somebody
soue: pig sty
tapager: to make noise
tapé: tetched; a little crazy

Due to its isolation, Detroit French evolved into a regional speech in many cases as distinct as that of the Acadians. Many words stil heard in the region do not seem to have been attested elsewhere; others were once well known but are now disappearing from the standard French being propogated by schools and the media:

bousure: a small cupboard
cabastra: capstan used to reel in seines
chat-sauvage: racoon
chelin: shilling; old British monetary unit; as in deux chelins - two bits ($0.25), quatre chelins - four bits ($0.50)
corps: blouse or shirt
foutreau: mink
galafe: glutton
mèche: a long time
rave: radish
roulin: a wave on the ocean or other body of water
tailler: to make a great effort, to work very hard
téteux de vache: milk snake (Lampropeltis triangulum)

Joseph Campeau residence, Amherstburg, 1896, Courtesy of Fort Malden
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