After establishing a presence in Canada, in recent years ITC has developed a strong network of translators whose native language is Canadian French. These linguists have passed several rounds of tests and are evaluated regularly. In addition, ITC project managers have drawn up language guides to help translators follow the specific rules that apply to Canadian French.

13 million

people speak French worldwide

3 dialects

make up Canadian French

1/3 of Canadians

are French-speaking

History of the language: translation into Canadian French

It was in 1608, when Champlain set foot on the land that would later become Quebec, that the story of the French language truly began in North America. Volunteers from all over France, seeking a better life for themselves, stepped forward to populate the king’s colony. This blend of peoples gave rise to a pure language that was admired by travelers. New France was prosperous, life was good, men and women knew how to read and write fluently. However, things were shaken up in 1763 when, after Quebec was taken by the British and after Montreal had fallen, the Paris Treaty put an end to French intervention in North America. Thousands of Canadian men and women were now under British control, and English became the language of commerce, administration and power. Some French speakers left for other parts of Canada, thereby creating distinct cultural pockets that are still in existence today. It would take decades of resistance and struggle to retain the role of the French language, undermined by the huge influx of American loyalists during the Civil War and by British, and later Canadian, political decisions. These efforts paid off in 1969, when French was recognized as an official language in Canada.

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Specific features of Canadian French

Visitors to any French-speaking region of Canada, and in particular to Quebec, and who believe that what is spoken there is known as “international French,” will quickly be taken by surprise, because Canadian French has plenty of special distinctions. Although there are obvious shared origins, the influence of English and the separation from France have well and truly led to the creation of a separate language with its own vocabulary. Therefore, it is not surprising to notice that in general, French-speaking Canadians avoid English words in certain contexts, even though they may use them in others. Here, they don’t use English-influenced words such as “parking” (term used in France for “parking lot”) or “pressing” (term used in France for “dry cleaner”), but true French words such as stationnements and nettoyeurs. Technical vocabulary, for example, uses different terms that one should be aware of to avoid confusion. At the same time, several expressions have been borrowed from English, influenced by French, and then reintegrated into the everyday language.

French speakers in Canada are proud of their history, their language and of everything that makes them unique. While they are careful to maintain connections with other francophone regions of the world, they covet their individuality. Whenever we use Canadian French to communicate with francophone Canadians, we are recognizing what it is that sets them apart.