I have heard that in Spain there are distinct dialects that separate the Spanish spoken there. For instance, in Catalonia, apparently the "s" sound becomes "th."

I was wondering if similar differences exist in France and if so, how many?

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    Wikipedia's article on the subject is very good, you can read it in French in English and a lot more languages. By the way you cannot refer to the language spoken in Catalonia as "Spanish" it is a different language and it is called "Catalan" (and it is spoken in some parts of southern France as well as the map in the wikipedia article will show you. – None Oct 14 '14 at 7:01
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    The question is not directly related to the French language since regional languages are separate languages altogether and not varieties of French (such as Swiss French or Quebecois). Moreover the answer is freely available on the internet. – None Oct 14 '14 at 7:07
  • @Laure Aren't regional accents, which looks to be what the OP is actually asking for, on topic? – jlliagre Oct 14 '14 at 9:54
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    @Jiliagre OP is asking about dialects that are languages in themselves(and the want to know how many there are, to which the wikipedia answers). Regional accents are different things altogether. For example someone from Toulouse can speak French with a regional accent from Toulouse but they may not be able to speak the local dialect which is Occitan. Occitan being a regional language that in itself is divided into a variety of dialects. – None Oct 14 '14 at 10:27
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    @Vincent, indeed "a language is a dialect with an army"; but my undertsanding is that Laure's point is: however you call them some regional languages are not related enough to French to call them "dialect of French" and are thus not on topic here (i.e. we don't claim to have the expertise to write about them, we don't even try to gather a community with that expertise). – Un francophone Oct 14 '14 at 16:39

As far as Spanish is concerned, it seems you are referring to the way the letters 'c' and 'z' are pronounced compared to the 's' letter depending on the region. Catalan people speaking Spanish are following the standard usage to pronounce the formers like the Engligh 'th'. In some Spanish regions like parts of Andalucia, 's' is pronounced like the standard 'c', that is the "ceceo". In other areas like the Canarias Islands and Hispanic America, there is no distinction between 'c', 's' and 'z' which are all pronounced 's', that is the "seseo".

There are certainly similar patterns with French, like the distinction between "in" and "un" being lost in Parisian French but still strong in parts of Belgium, Southern France and other areas. The missing "ui" in Belgium, which is pronounced "oui", and so on.

It is unclear if you refer to Spanish spoken in Catalonia or Catalan. The latter is not a Spanish dialect but a language of its own. It happens to be also present in France, along other languages like Basque, Britton, Corsican, Occitan, Flemish, Alsacian, not to mention Creoles and other languages from overseas locations. There are also (Old) French / "Langue d'oïl" dialects, like Picard (a.k.a Chti), Gallo, etc. and modern French variants like the ones spoken in Quebec, Belgium, Switzerland and Africa.

Whether with close root with modern French or not, regional languages usage widely varies and has a tendency to fade out especially with younger people. Nevertheless, they generally leave distinct accents often easy to spot.

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  • Picard and Gallo although they are Roman languages (like Occitan or Lorrain and others) cannot be qualified as French dialects, they are dialects spoken in France, which is a different thing altogether. And someone may have a local accent without being able to speak the regional language, all you can say is that regional languages have influenced local accents, but that has nothing to do with the question asked. – None Oct 14 '14 at 10:39
  • I would wait for the OP to clarify what he is really asking for. He gives an example of 'c/z' becoming 's' or 'th' which is a classical difference of regional variations in the way standard Spanish is spoken (not Catalan or whatever). About Picard and Gallo, they are dialects of the langue d'oïl and so I don't see why you don't want to referred to them as "French dialects". – jlliagre Oct 14 '14 at 10:56
  • There was an awful typo in my previous comment - I meant Romance languages of course... – None Oct 14 '14 at 11:02
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    It's not me not wanting to refer to Picard, Gallo, Occitan and other Romance languages, as French dialects, it's just they have not evolved from the French language but directly from Latin, and have had an evolution parallel to that of French. They are no more French dialects than other Romance languages spoken in Italy or Spain or Switzerland... Dialects spoken in France are not necessarily French dialects. – None Oct 14 '14 at 11:16
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    @Laure I'm afraid you misread my comment. I do not confuse non French dialects like Occitan with French ones. Gallo and Picard are definitely (Old) French dialects, i.e. all variants of the langue d'oïl or Old French. – jlliagre Oct 14 '14 at 13:35

Surely a purist would say that there is only one French 'dialect' and that is the language prescribed - by the Académie Française. The point of the Académie was to resolve issues of usage and ensure everyone used the same language - not whatever suited them at the time (like Montaigne).

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There are not such dialects in France as you could find in Spain or Italy, but I can say that the main dialects in metropolitan France could be Alsatian, Corsican, Basque, Breton and Catalan.

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    These are not French Dialects (i.e dialects of the French language) but distinct languages (or dialects of other languages) that happen to be spoken in France. – jlliagre Oct 16 '14 at 17:36

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