Native toFrance, Belgium
Native speakers
700,000 (2011)[1]
Early forms
Official status
Recognised minority
language in
 Belgium (recognised by the French Community of Belgium)
Regulated byNone
Language codes
ISO 639-3pcd
The geographical spread of Picard and Chtimi among the Oïl languages (other than French) can be seen in shades of green and yellow on this map.
Picard is classified as Vulnerable by the UNESCO Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger [3]
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Picard (/ˈpɪkɑːrd/,[4] also US: /pɪˈkɑːrd, ˈpɪkərd/,[5][6] French: [pikaʁ] ) is a langue d'oïl of the Romance language family spoken in the northernmost of France and parts of Hainaut province in Belgium. Administratively, this area is divided between the French Hauts-de-France region and the Belgian Wallonia along the border between both countries due to its traditional core being the districts of Tournai and Mons (Walloon Picardy).

The language or dialect is referred to by different names, as residents of Picardy call it simply Picard, but in the more populated region of Nord-Pas-de-Calais it is called Ch'ti or Ch'timi (sometimes written as Chti or Chtimi). This is the area that makes up Romance Flanders, around the metropolis of Lille and Douai, and northeast Artois around Béthune and Lens. Picard is also named Rouchi around Valenciennes, Roubaignot around Roubaix, or simply patois in general French.

In 1998, Picard native speakers amounted to 700,000 individuals, the vast majority of whom were elderly people (aged 65 and over).[7] Since its daily use had drastically declined, Picard was declared by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) a "severely endangered language".[8] However, as of 2023, the Picard language was listed as “vulnerable” by UNESCO.[9]

Origin of the word ch'ti

The word ch'ti, chtimi or ch'timi to designate the Picard language was invented during the First World War by Poilus from non-Picard speaking areas to refer to their brothers in arms from Picardy and Nord-Pas-de-Calais. It is an onomatopoeia created based on the frequent use of the /ʃ/ (ch-) phoneme and of the /ʃti/ (chti) sound in Picard: "ch'ti" means the one, as in the sentence "ch'est chti qui a fait cha" ( he is the one who has done that), for instance.[10]


Belgium's French Community gave full official recognition to Picard as a regional language along with Walloon, Gaumais (Lorraine), Champenois (Champagne) and Lorraine German in its 1990 decree. The French government has not followed suit and has not recognized Picard as an official regional language (in line with its policy of linguistic unity, which allows for only one official language in France, as per the French Constitution), but some reports have recognized Picard as a language distinct from French.

A 1999 report by Bernard Cerquiglini, the director of the Institut national de la langue française (National Institute of the French Language) stated:

The gap has continued to widen between French and the varieties of langues d'oïl, which today we would call "French dialects"; Franc-comtois, Walloon, Picard, Norman, Gallo, Poitevin, Saintongeais, Bourguignon-morvandiau, Lorrain must be accepted among the regional languages of France; by placing them on the list [of French regional languages], they will be known from then on as langues d'oïl.[11]

Even if it has no official status as a language in France, Picard, along with all the other languages spoken in France, benefits from actions led by the Culture Minister's General Delegation for the French language and the languages of France (la Délégation générale à la langue française et aux langues de France).


spread of Picard (Picard, Chti, Rouchi, etc.)

Picard, like French, is one of the langues d'oïl and belongs to the Gallo-Roman family of languages. It consists of all the varieties used for writing (Latin: scriptae) in the north of France from before 1000 (in the south of France at that time the Occitan language was used). Often, the langues d'oïl are referred to simply as Old French. Picard is phonetically quite different from the North-central langues d'oïl, which evolved into modern French. Among the most notable traits, the evolution in Picard towards palatalization is less marked than in the central langues d'oïl in which it is particularly striking; /k/ or /ɡ/ before /j/, tonic /i/ and /e/, as well as in front of tonic /a/ and /ɔ/ (from earlier *au; the open /o/ of the French porte) in central Old French but not in Picard:

The effects of palatalization can be summarised as this:

There are striking differences, such as Picard cachier ('to hunt') ~ Old French chacier, which later took the modern French form of chasser. Because of the proximity of Paris to the northernmost regions of France, French (that is, the languages that were spoken in and around Paris) greatly influenced Picard and vice versa. The closeness between Picard and French causes the former to not always be recognised as a language in its own right, but rather a "distortion of French" as it is often viewed.

Dialectal variations

Despite being geographically and syntactically affiliated according to some linguists due to their inter-comprehensible morphosyntactic features, Picard in Picardy, Ch'timi and Rouchi still intrinsically maintain conspicuous discrepancies. Picard includes a variety of very closely related dialects. It is difficult to list them all accurately in the absence of specific studies on the dialectal variations, but these varieties can probably provisionally be distinguished: [citation needed] Amiénois, Vimeu-Ponthieu, Vermandois, Thiérache, Beauvaisis, "chtimi" (Bassin Minier, Lille), dialects in other regions near Lille (Roubaix, Tourcoing, Mouscron, Comines), "rouchi" (Valenciennois) and Tournaisis, Borain, Artésien rural, Boulonnais. The varieties are defined by specific phonetic, morphological and lexical traits and sometimes by a distinctive literary tradition.

The Ch'ti language was re-popularised by the 2008 French comedy film Welcome to the Sticks (French: Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis; French pronunciation: [bjɛ̃vny ʃe le ʃti]) which broke nearly every box office record in France and earned over $245,000,000 worldwide on an 11 million euro budget.[12]

Verbs and tenses

The first person plural often appears in spoken Picard in the form of the neutral third person in; however, the written form prioritizes os (as in French, where on is used for nous). On the other hand, the spelling of conjugated verbs will depend on the pronunciation, which varies within the Picard domain. For instance southern Picard would read il étoait / étoét while northern Picard would read il étot. This is noted as variants in the following:

TO BE : ète (être)
Indicative Subjunctive Imperative
Present Imperfect Future Conditional Present
North South North South Variables Variables
I ej su j'éto(s) j'étoé / étoais ej srai ej séro(s) ej sroé qu'ej soéche qu'ej fuche / seuche
YOU t'es t'étos t'étoés / étoais tu sros té séros tu sroés eq tu soéches eq tu fuches / seuches soéche fus / fuche
HE il est i'étot il étoét / étoait i sro i sérot i sroét qu'i soéche qu'i fuche / seuche
SHE al est al étot al étoét / étoait ale sro ale sérot ale sroét qu'ale soéche qu'ale fuche / seuche
ONE in est in étot in étoét / étoait in sro in sérot in sroét qu'in soéche qu'in fuche / seuche
WE os sonmes os étonmes os étoinmes os srons os séronmes os sroinmes qu'os soéïonches qu'os fuchonches / seuchonches / sonches soéïons fuchons
YOU os ètes os étotes os étoétes os srez os sérotes os sroétes qu'os soéïèches qu'os fuchèches / seuchèches soéïez fuchez
THEY is sont is étotte is étoétte / étoaitte is sront is sérotte is sroétte qu'is soéchtte qu'is fuchtte / seuchtte
TO HAVE : avoèr (avoir)
Indicative Subjunctive Imperative
Present Imperfect Future Conditional Present
North South North South Variables Variables
I j'ai j'ai j'avo(s) j'avoés / avoais j'arai j'érai j'aros j'éroé eq j'euche
YOU t'as t'os t'avos t'avoés t'aras t'éros t'aros t'éroés eq t'euches aïe
HE i'a il o i'avot il avoét i'ara il éro i'arot il éroét qu'il euche
SHE al a al o al avot al avoét al ara al éro al arot al éroét qu'al euche
ONE in a in o in avot in avoét in ara in éro in arot in éroét qu'in euche
WE os avons os avons os avonmes os avoinmes os arons os érons os aronmes os éroinmes qu'os euchonches / aïonches aïons
YOU os avez os avez os avotes os avoétes os arez os érez os arotes os éroétes qu'os euchèches / aïèches aïez
THEY is ont il ont is avotte is avoétte is aront is éront is arotte is éroétte qu'is euhtte
TO GO : s'in aler (s'en aller)
Indicative Subjunctive Imperative
Present Imperfect Future Conditional Present
North South North South Variables Variables
I j'm'in vas ej m'in vos j'm'in alos ej m'in aloés / aloais j'm'in irai j'm'in iros ej m'in iroé qu'ej m'in ale qu'ej m'in voaiche
YOU té t'in vas tu t'in vos té t'in alos tu t'in aloés tu t'in iros té t'in iros tu t'in iroés qu'té t'in ale qu'tu t'in voaiches
HE i s'in va i s'in vo i s'in a lot i s'in aloét i s'in iro i s'in irot i s'in iroét qu'i s'in ale qu'i s'in voaiche
SHE ale s'in va ale s'in vo ale s'in a lot ale s'in aloét ale s'in iro ale s'in irot ale s'in iroét qu'ale s'in ale qu'ale s'in voaiche
ONE in s'in va in s'in vo in s'in a lot in s'in aloét in s'in ira in s'in irot in s'in iroét qu'in s'in ale qu'in s'in voaiche
WE os nos in alons os nos in alons os nos in alonmes os nos in aloinmes os nos in irons os nos in ironmes os nos in iroinmes qu'os nos in allotte qu'os nos in alonches
YOU os vos in alez os vos in alez os vos in alotes os vos in aloétes vos vos in irez os vos in irotes os vos in iroétes qu'os vos in allotte qu'os vos in alèches
THEY is s'in vont is s'in vont is s'in alotte is s'in aloétte is s'in iront is s'in irotte is s'in iroétte qu'is s'in allote qu'is s'in voaichtte


The majority of Picard words derive from Vulgar Latin.

English Picard French
English Inglé Anglais
Hello! Bojour ! or Bojour mes gins ! (formal) or Salut ti z’aute ! (informal) Bonjour (lit.: Bonjour mes gens ! or Salut vous autres !)
Good evening! Bonsoèr ! Bonsoir
Good night! La boinne nuit ! Bonne nuit !
Goodbye! À s'ervir ! or À l’arvoïure ! or À t’ervir ! Au revoir !
Have a nice day! Eune boinne jornée ! Bonne journée !
Please/if you please Sins vos komander (formal) or Sins t' komander (informal) S'il vous plaît (lit: sans vous commander)
Thank you Merchi Merci
I am sorry Pardon or Échtchusez-mi Pardon or Excusez-moi
What is your name? Kmint qu’os vos aplez ? Comment vous appelez-vous ?
How much? Combin qu’cha coûte ? Combien ça coute ?
I do not understand. Éj n'comprinds poin. Je ne comprends pas.
Yes, I understand. Oui, j' comprinds. Oui, je comprends.
Help! À la rescousse ! À l'aide (lit.: À la rescousse !)
Can you help me please? Povez-vos m’aider, sins vos komander ? Pouvez-vous m'aider, s'il vous plaît ?
Where are the toilets? D'ousqu'il est ech tchioér ? Où sont les toillettes ? (Slang: Où sont les chiottes ?)
Do you speak English? Parlez-vos inglé ? Parlez-vous anglais ?
I do not speak Picard. Éj n’pérle poin picard. Je ne parle pas picard.
I do not know. Éj n’sais mie. Je ne sais pas. (lit: Je ne sais moi.)
I know. Éj sais. Je sais.
I am thirsty. J’ai soé. (literally, "I have thirst") J'ai soif.
I am hungry. J’ai fan. (literally, "I have hunger") J'ai faim.
How are you? / How are things going? / How is everything? Comint qu’i va ? (formal) or Cha va t’i ? Comment vas-tu ? or Ça va ?
I am fine. Cha va fin bien. Ça va bien.
Sugar Chuque Sucre
Crybaby Brayou Pleurnicheur (lit: brailleur)

Some phrases

Many words are very similar to French, but a large number are unique to Picard—principally terms relating to mining or farming.

Here are several typical phrases in Picard, accompanied by French and English translations:

J'ai prins min louchet por mi aler fouir min gardin.
J'ai pris ma bêche pour aller bêcher mon jardin.
"I took my spade to go dig my garden."
Mi, à quate heures, j'archine eune bonne tartine.
Moi, à quatre heures, je mange une bonne tartine.
"At four o'clock, I eat a good snack."
Quind un Ch'ti mi i'est à l'agonie, savez vous bin che qui li rind la vie ? I bot un d'mi. (Les Capenoules (a music group))
Quand un gars du Nord est à l'agonie, savez-vous bien ce qui lui rend la vie ? Il boit un demi.
"When a northerner is dying, do you know what revives him? He drinks a pint."
Pindant l'briquet un galibot composot, assis sur un bos,
L'air d'eune musique qu'i sifflotot
Ch'étot tellemint bin fabriqué, qu'les mineurs lâchant leurs briquets
Comminssotent à's'mette à'l'danser (Edmond Tanière - La polka du mineur)
Pendant le casse-croûte un jeune mineur composa, assis sur un bout de bois
L'air d'une musique qu'il sifflota
C'était tellement bien fait que les mineurs, lâchant leurs casse-croûte
Commencèrent à danser.
"During lunch a young miner composed, seated on a piece of wood
"The melody of a tune that he whistled
"It was so well done that the miners, leaving their sandwiches,
"Started to dance to it" (Edmond Tanière - La polka du mineur, "The Miner's Polka")
I n'faut pas qu'ches glaines is cantent pus fort que ch'co.
Il ne faut pas que les poules chantent plus fort que le coq.
"Hens must not sing louder than the rooster" (n. b. this saying really refers to men and women rather than poultry)
J' m'in vo à chlofe, lo qu'i n'passe poin d'caroche.
Je vais au lit, là où il ne passe pas de carrosse.
"I go to bed where no car is running."
Moqueu d'gins
railleur, persifleur (lit. moqueur des gens)
"someone who mocks or jeers at people" (compare gens, which is French for "people")
Ramaseu d'sous
personne âpre au gain (lit. ramasseur de sous)
"a greedy person"


Cardinal numbers in Picard from 1 to 20 are as follows:


Picard language signage in Cayeux-sur-Mer

Picard is not taught in French schools (apart from a few one-off and isolated courses) and is generally only spoken among friends or family members. It has nevertheless been the object of scholarly research at universities in Lille and Amiens, as well as at Indiana University.[13] Since people are now able to move around France more easily than in past centuries, the different varieties of Picard are converging and becoming more similar. In its daily use, Picard is tending to lose its distinctive features and may be confused with regional French. At the same time, even though most Northerners can understand Picard today, fewer and fewer are able to speak it, and people who speak Picard as their first language are increasingly rare, particularly under 50.[14]

The 2008 film Welcome to the Sticks, starring comedian Dany Boon, deals with Ch'ti language and culture and the perceptions of the region by outsiders, and it was the highest-grossing French film of all time at the box office in France[15] until it was surpassed by The Intouchables.

Written Picard

Today Picard is primarily a spoken language, but in the medieval period, there is a wealth of literary texts in Picard. However, Picard was not able to compete with French and was slowly reduced to the status of a regional language.

A more recent body of Picard literature, written during the last two centuries, also exists. Modern written Picard is generally a transcription of the spoken language. For that reason, words are often spelled in a variety of different ways (in the same way that English and French were before they were standardized).

One system of spelling for Picard words is similar to that of French. It is undoubtedly the easiest for French speakers to understand but can also contribute the stereotype that Picard is only a corruption of French rather than a language in its own right.

Various spelling methods have been proposed since the 1960s to offset the disadvantage and to give Picard a visual identity that is distinct from French. There is now a consensus, at least between universities, in favor of the written form known as Feller-Carton (based on the Walloon spelling system, which was developed by Jules Feller, and adapted for Picard by Professor Fernand Carton).

Learning Picard

Picard, although primarily a spoken language, has a body of written literature: poetry, songs ("P'tit quinquin" for example), comic books, etc.

A number of dictionaries and patois guides also exist (for French speakers):

See also


  1. ^ Picard at Ethnologue (25th ed., 2022) Closed access icon
  2. ^ Hammarström, Harald; Forkel, Robert; Haspelmath, Martin; Bank, Sebastian (24 May 2022). "Oil". Glottolog. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Archived from the original on 8 October 2022. Retrieved 7 October 2022.
  3. ^ "World Atlas of Languages: Picard". en.wal.unesco.org. Retrieved 15 November 2023.
  4. ^ "Picard". Lexico UK English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. Archived from the original on 22 March 2020.
  5. ^ "Picard". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (5th ed.). HarperCollins. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  6. ^ "Picard". Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  7. ^ Auger, Julie (14–17 February 2003). Issues of authenticity, purity, and autonomy in minority languages: What is 'real' Picard, and who is an 'authentic' speaker?. Congress Minority and Diasporic Languages of Europe. Berkeley, US: Indiana University. in Nowak, Pawel; Yoquelet, Corey (eds.). Berkeley Linguistics Society (BLS 29).
    * - in France: c. 500 000 speakers [fr] [1]
    - in Belgium: a rough approximation is about 12% to 15% of people in province of Hainaut, i.e. c. 150 000 to 200 000 speakers.
  8. ^ OHCHR rapporteurs (20 July 1998). "'According to the UN, about 500,000 speakers in France and 200,000 in Belgium' [archive], Selon l'ONU, environ 500 000 locuteurs en France et 200 000 en Belgique". UNESCO.
  9. ^ "World Atlas of Languages: Picard". en.wal.unesco.org. Retrieved 15 November 2023.
  10. ^ "Nos langues régionales". Région Hauts-de-France (in French). 24 November 2015. Retrieved 20 December 2023.
  11. ^ Bernard Cerquiglini, The Languages of France, Report to the Minister of National Education, Research and Technology, and the Minister of Culture and Communication, April 1999
  12. ^ "Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 12 April 2015.
  13. ^ Julie Auger, Department of French and Italian, Indiana University
  14. ^ William Orem, "The Princess & Picard" Archived 29 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine, Research & Creative Activity, April 2000 Volume XXIII Number 1, Indiana University
  15. ^ "France All Time Opening Weekends". www.boxofficemojo.com. Retrieved 9 January 2019.

Further reading

Linguistic studies of Picard


diries 85, création collective des diseux
Centre de Ressources pour la Description de l'Oral - picard (CRDO)
COllections de COrpus Oraux Numériques - picard Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine (COCOON)