French vs Canadian French – What’s the Difference?

 French vs Canadian French – What’s the Difference?


When providing translation services, there are a number of vital elements to consider:

  • Do you have the skillset?
  • Do you have the relevant cultural knowledge?
  • Are you an expert in this field?

As French translation specialists, we understand the importance of asking these questions before taking on a project – even when it comes to a Canadian French translation.


Why is Canadian French Different to French?

While there are numerous linguistic and oral differences in French and Canadian French, it’s important to note that they are indeed the same language. These differences evolved following years of evolution determined by their surroundings; i.e. French evolved in Europe close to a number of other languages, where Canadian French evolved mainly with American English as an influence. These influences can be seen in newer words where Canadian French uses more Anglicisms, while their basic language is more archaic.


How Are These Languages Written?

On paper, the two are written virtually the same with few exceptions. While Québécois is rooted in the Classical French of the 17th century, you’d be more likely to find à cause que for ‘because’ as opposed to the more often seen parce que in France. These antiquated phrases are seen as quaint in France. This is due to the fact that the French began settling in Canada in the 16th and 17th centuries, where these settlers remained isolated from the language evolution happening in France.


Use of Anglicisms

Despite Canadian French’s roots in 16th and 17th century French, it uses far more Anglicisms than traditional French. Anglicisms are words taken from English, with little to no alteration. In Canadian French, you would often see English words given a French spelling or suffix such as ‘parker’ – to park or pinottes for peanuts. That said, there has been an anti-Anglicism movement among Québécois. In France when you would say faire du shopping, in Québec you say faire du magasinage.


Pronunciation and Intonation

The pronunciation of Canadian French is contributed to by a number of factors; namely the accent. The most noticeable difference between Metropolitan French and Québec French is the pronunciation of vowels. There are sounds that are no longer used in Metropolitan French such as the ‘un’ sounds, which are still prevalent in Québec as a result of the differences between British and American English. Though the pronunciation of consonants is less obvious, the ‘r’ sound is trilled in France. Canadians pronounce this as a uvular sound much like in the Classical French of the past.


Dialectical and linguistic differences are one of many factors to consider when taking on a translation project. The distinct differences between Metropolitan French and Canadian French is just one example of the importance of using a language service provider who is both a language and localisation expert. If you’d like to find out more about the services we offer, email us at french@sixcontinents.fr.