The roots of Canadian French are deeply intertwined with standard European French; however, they differ dramatically from each other. Canadian French is greatly influenced by the English language and has even adopted words from English vocabulary, whereas European French is a more traditional and unwavering dialect.

Canadian French is recognized as a national language in Canada; companies preparing legal documents or presenting information regarding products and services need to do so in both English and Canadian French.  It is essential that professional & experienced translators perform these jobs to prevent miscommunication or mistranslation, especially when you consider the intricacies of Canadian French. Here are a few of the main differences between European French and Canadian French.

Vocabulary

As previously mentioned, Quebecois French takes a lot of influence from interactions with American, British, and Indigenous peoples. Quebecois French speakers have adopted many colloquialisms from Aboriginal communities, including much of their vocabulary. Some of the words that are considered common in Canadian French but are non-existent in traditional French vocabulary include words like “Atoca,” an aboriginal-derived word to describe “cranberries.” Another indigenous word that Quebecois French speakers use that European French speakers do not is “micouène,” which means a very big wooden spoon.

Additionally, Canadian French vocabulary is filled with outdated, European French words. For example, the word ‘soulier’ which means shoe, is commonly used in French Canadian society and is derived from European French. However, European French speakers no longer use it when referring to shoes and footwear.

Grammar

While Canadian French and European French follow many similar grammatical rules, there are a few distinctions between the two. Canadian French is more informal; French Canadian speakers use the word ‘tu’ (which means ‘you’) in everyday speech while reserving ‘Vous’ for proper and academic purposes.  Sentence structure between Canadian French and European French differs slightly from each other which makes it even more important to ensure all important translations are performed by experienced linguists.

Informal Dialect

French Canadian speakers often start conversations in the second person by using the “tu” pronoun, and while this is seen as commonplace in Canada, using this phrasing in France is deemed improper. Even in Quebec, using “tu” in replace of “Vous” may be considered insensitive or rude by older French Canadians. For this reason, Canadian government officials and even major corporations use the word “Vous” and not “Tu” when addressing civilians and customers.

 

If a French-Canadian speaker and European French speaker were to have a casual conversation with one another, the European French speaker might have a difficult time understanding what the French-Canadian speaker is trying to say to them. This is due, in part, to the ‘Anglicisms’ (words derived from the English language that have been adapted by French Canadians), which are commonly used in everyday conversations.

Any Canadian company that needs to translate English documents & information into Canadian French must ensure the interpretation is completed thoroughly and accurately. For all your professional translation needs, contact Fox Translations today!