Canadian (Quebec) French vs. European French?
Thread poster: mlconnections

United States
Local time: 22:13
English to Spanish
+ ...
Oct 11, 2006

Are a majority of the differences between Canadian French and European French apparent only at the spoken level? For the sake of written translations, how much does it matter if a translator is from France or Canada if translating for a Canadian audience?


Sonia Dorais
Local time: 23:13
French to English
+ ...
Differences spoken, expressions, idimatic expressions, etc. Oct 11, 2006


I am a native-English French Canadian who lived in Belgium for several years, so I might be able to answer your question.

There are many differences, not only between European French and Canadian French, but also between the European nations (i.e. Belgium French is different from French from France).

Although I unfortunately cant help you in the sense that I do not know the exact grammar and syntax rules in other nations than Canada, I can, however, say that the European sentence structure and 'ways of saying things' is not the same as here in Canada.

Therefore, on a translation level, I think it would depend on the text. What is being translated? What is the context?

Please anyone feel free to correct me if you do not agree but I believe for something very technical (like IT, marketing) it may not matter because the terms are more or less standardised, but for something more general or a novel or movie, it may make a huge difference.

Yet, we are used to (familiar with) the French from France here and I think most people would understand a text written in French from France, even if the grammar etc. was different.

Nevertheless, I tend to believe translators are aware of this and can adapt. For example, I translated a textbook for a man who wanted me to use American spelling, so I did.

Anyhow, I'm not sure this answers your question but I hope it helps.

Good luck!


Anne Marie B
Local time: 23:13
English to French
They are indeed different! Oct 11, 2006

They have evolved very differently, due to many factors. When translating, the differences will also be tributary of the nature of the text translated. To give you a good example and to prove my point, have a look at the IBM Web site ( where they have distinct translations in Canadian french, in French french and in Belgian french. The last two are quite similar.

I am now translating a Web site which is targeting all french populations. We will only have one version in french and i am constantly checking the words i use. Example, the term "e-mail" translates into "courriel" for the Canadians and "e-mail" for the French. Although i much prefer "courriel", i am using the english term which is understood by everybody.

So it does matter where the translator is from although some of us are familiar enough with the two cultures to translated for either population. I would say that the French-Canadian translators know more about the French culture then the other way around. But there are, i am sure, exceptions.


United States
Local time: 22:13
English to Spanish
+ ...
Thanks Oct 11, 2006

Thanks for your responses!


Ritu Bhanot  Identity Verified
Member (2006)
French to Hindi
+ ...
French Oct 12, 2006


Well, may be I'm speaking out of line as I'm neither Franch nor Canadian. I'm from a basically anglophone country... but speaking from experience regarding the word e-mail...

I've worked in France and the word 'mél' was used for 'e-mail' in all the documents that I received from Education Ministry... I guess then that this is the official word.

Actually, it was a surprise for us 'coz we'd studied that the correct word is 'courriel'.

Hope this is of some help.

Best regards,

Ritu Bhanot

[Edited at 2006-10-12 02:05]


Manuel Rossetti
Local time: 04:13
d-accord Oct 12, 2006

Sonia-Catherine wrote:

Please anyone feel free to correct me if you do not agree but I believe for something very technical (like IT, marketing) it may not matter because the terms are more or less standardised, but for something more general or a novel or movie, it may make a huge difference.

I agree with Sonia-Catherine on what she stated above.


Alexandre Coutu
Local time: 22:13
English to French
There are notable differences at all levels Oct 12, 2006

I'll try to help you, Jill.

Yes, there are important differences at the spoken language between the 2, in vocabulary and in grammar. I think the differences are greater than between American and British English, chiefly because the French spoken by the first immigrants was not the Parisian French that later became the norm. Although I have also heard that despite the variety of dialects spoken by those immigrants, the effort to communicate brought on a certain uniformity which didn't exist in France at the time.

As for written standard language, the issues are fewer but they do exist and they can't be ignored.

First, there's vocabulary. Depending on the topic, differences in vocabulary could be an issue. To use the example presented by other members, mél or email would never be used in Canada - mél is simply heresyicon_wink.gif (you'll never find é in a closed syllable in French, but I digress). Also, the French tend to accept English words a lot more easily, even words that don't actually exist in English like baby-foot, pipeulisation and ticketing. (if they do, I've never heard them being used). Again, heresy to the ear of the French Canadian. If the text is technical or deals with technology, there may be serious issues with using a translator from overseas.

Also, some expressions and way of wording things are only used locally - although they can be considered perfectly acceptable. For instance, something as common as "sur Paris" is widely used and accepted in France, but would be thought of as weird - even wrong - in Canada. We never use "sur" in this context. Another example: the French like to capitalize months (9 Octobre), something you don't see here. Although in this case, maybe a translator wouldn't do that, I'm not sure.

The other big issue in my opinion is how culture is reflected in the language. In Canada, we have the tendancy to be more concise and to-the-point. I've heard French people make that observation too. I regularly hear Canadian collegues make comments that point in that same direction (at te very least, French Canadian translators have this perception). Watch a Canadian politician and a French politician. The latter will take a long time to explain what the first would have said in much fewer words and in a much more direct way.

Generally speaking *big generalization warning here*, Canadians are more aware of what is used in France than the other way around. Canadians are simply more exposed to European French.

I hope others will come to confirm or refute my allegations.

Hope this helped.


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