Posted on Monday, May 17, 2010
Category: Languages, Localization, Translation
The Quebec province of Canada is well-known for its French flair, with French serving as the province’s official language and the majority of the population speaking Quebecois French. Quebec is home to two major French-language cities: Quebec City and Montreal, the second-largest French-speaking city outside of Paris.
Before you assume that a trip to Montreal is the linguistic equivalent of a trip to Paris, however, it’s important to be aware that Quebecois French is unique, with its own dialect, slang and vocabulary differing significantly from the standard style of French language spoken in France.
Pronunciation in Quebec vs. France
Although Quebecois French shares the basic grammatical and lexical values as “France French,” in some cases a Quebecois French speaker with a truly heavy Quebecois accent will have trouble being understood by listeners accustomed to a standard French dialect.
The differences in pronunciation are significant. While a France-based speaker’s “yes” sounds roughly like “wee” to the English ear, a Quebecois French speaker’s “yes” sounds more like “weh.”
Unique Vocabulary of Quebec French
Thanks to Quebec’s history as a Francophone province in the predominantly English-speaking country of Canada, the fight to keep the French language – an integral part of Quebecois culture – dominant in Quebec has proved difficult. The desire to preserve the French language’s purity in the province has inspired Quebecois French speakers to fight back against the influence of English loan-words and “Franglais,” an English-influenced style of French speech.
Eliminating English words from Quebecois French is one means through which the inhabitants of Quebec are fighting the English language threat to Quebec French. As a result, some Anglicisms commonly accepted throughout France are not used in Quebec. While hitchhiking is referred to as “Faire du Pouce” (“to do by the thumb,” literally) in Quebec, in France it’s simply called “Faire du Stop.” Another example: In France, the term “e-mail” is commonly used; however, in Quebec the word “courriel” is preferred.
Translating and Interpreting Quebec French
Due to its unique lexicon and pronunciation, Quebec French translation and interpreting absolutely should be done by linguists who specialize in Quebecois French. Likewise, to translate or interpret material targeted at a France-based audience, it’s best to trust a linguist who specializes in “France French.” Accredited Language Services offers top-quality translation and interpreting services in more than 150 languages and dialects, including Quebec French and “France French.”
It is perfectly possible to have translators who are capable of working in both Standard and Quebecois French; the key is that they are well-versed in the differences between the two dialects. Only a translator who is intimately familiar with the details of Quebec French will be capable of capturing the linguistic nuances that set Quebec French apart from the French spoken in France.
Assuming that a translation in Quebec French will be identical to one in “France French” is a huge mistake that can result in confusing or even incorrect translation.