I know that qu'appelle is correct for QUE appelle. But correct for Qui Appelle? Qu'Appelle, Saskatchewan - Wikipedia

The name "Qu'Appelle," a corruption of qui appelle, French for "Who calls?" refers to the once-popular legend of the Qu'Appelle Valley versified by E. Pauline Johnson:

University of Regina

Many more First Nations names exist in translation, including Gull Lake, Birch Hills, Meadow Lake, and Buffalo Narrows. Most famous among these is undoubtedly Qu’Appelle, which originated with a Cree legend about a spirit that travelled up and down the valley calling out people’s names; their response was “kâ-têpwêt?” meaning “Who calls?” which was translated by early French-speaking travellers as “Qui appelle?” and is well known today in the abbreviated form of Qu’Appelle.

  • 1
    Hello @user35209 I didn't really get you question, but yes normally one should say qui appelle but I think when native french speaker talk they often use "qu'appelle" but you can't write it you can only use it in a colloquial conversation in my humble opinion
    – user25798
    Dec 12 '20 at 8:36
  • I would say "De la part de qui ?" when asking who is calling or even "Qui est à l'appareil ?" so I am also confused as to what you are asking, though the First Nations etymology is interesting. It sounds like a pataquès.
    – livresque
    Dec 12 '20 at 8:43
  • I regularly contract relative pronoun qui in front of a vowel, but not the interrogative word qui (which isn't particularly surprising, relative qui tends to act as a clitic pronoun in spoken French, while the interrogative qui is a full word, much less likely to reduce or contract). In the particular case we're concerned with, it's hard to know whether this is a quirk of the evolution of this particular place name (always very prone to retain traces of sound changes that didn't catch on in the rest of the lexicon) or something that was very widespread among the French speakers of the area Dec 12 '20 at 19:20

The qui stands alone

It is not common or grammatical in writing to use elision with qui. The example you gave is an interesting glimpse into the etymology of the locale and place name.

In speaking, the vowel [i] in qui is quite strong, and it is a subject pronoun in the usage of "qui appelle ?" Neither vowel is likely to revert completely to schwa or disappear from pronunciation like how you correctly noted that que becomes qu'+vowel. Both can be relative pronouns.

Your research cited that "Qu'appelle" is a corruption, and it is simply an historical example of l'élision. Many grammars including Lawless French enforce that there is no elision after qui. (my highlight of cf.)

after qui Je ne sais pas qui il cherche.
cf. (qu’il = que + il)

It is pronounced a longer (almost two) [i] in that example.

From CNRTL, we see no elision.

b) [Attribut] Qui es-tu? demanda-t-il (Balzac, Annette, t. 4, 1824, p. 149). c) [Régime dir.] Qui aimes-tu le mieux, homme énigmatique, dis? ton père, ta mère, ta sœur ou ton frère? (Baudel., Poèmes prose, 1867, p. 11).Qui as-tu choisi? (Giraudoux, Sodome, 1943, i, 4, p. 84).

There is a difference in "qu'as-tu choisi ?" and "qui as-tu choisi ?" The former asks what; the latter asks whom.

You can also see how the elision with a yod [j] could shift back from something like /kiapɛl/ to /kapɛl/ to /kəˈpɛl/ depending on the speaker and the era.

It seems obfuscated in the place name. Proper nouns rarely follow rules. Brittanica.com gives

Its French name, meaning “who calls,” was derived from its Cree Indian name Kah-tep-was (“River That Calls”), referring to the cries of a legendary spirit supposedly haunting its waters.

All in all, qui does not elide like que.

  • 1
    Yes, good note on place names. They function as nouns and so the behaviours and categories of the individual words tend to be overridden. Besides, they just get said so much (particularly by the people who live in them) that the forces of compression are stronger. After all, the province where Qu'Appelle is found has only two syllables for those who inhabit it. :)
    – Luke Sawczak
    Dec 13 '20 at 17:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy