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luce-neidert
Community Member

Canadian French translators

Could you please tell me why Canadians tend to request Canadian French translations? What on earth is that? It makes me want to laugh because I can just imagine a text full of charming Canadian words such as "présentement", "niaiseux" and the such. 

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@Luce N wrote:

It's just that I had never thought that French Canadians considered their language so different from French,  

Again, written French is pretty much the same and you'll be able to translate for French Canadian readership unless it is something that specifically requires vocabulary that is used only in QC. You wouldn't want to translate an auto repair manual for instance. Or a novel with dialogues.

 

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

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petra_r
Community Member


@Luce N wrote:

Could you please tell me why Canadians tend to request Canadian French translations? What on earth is that? It makes me want to laugh because I can just imagine a text full of charming Canadian words such as "présentement", "niaiseux" and the such. 


 My French is pretty poor but isn't it a bit like German / Swiss / Austrian or Spanish in Spain rather than South America?

 

The German written and spoken in Germany differs from that in Switzerland and Austria, to the point where I would advise clients to only hire translators who are natives of the country they are translating for.

 

I was under the (possibly mistaken) impression that the same may apply for French and that the French spoken in Canada is not 1:1 the same as the French spoken in France or in other countries where French is one of the native or official languages.

 

Or the clients just want to weed out "French Speakers" from countries other than France & Canada?

 

 

Hi Petra,

 

My German is very basic, but I've lived in Bern for a year and I really understand that Swiss German is not Hochdeutsch! I also speak Brazilian Portuguese and can tell the difference between Brazilian Portuguese and Portugal Portuguese.

 

However, when I speak with French with Canadians, it's mostly the pronunciation that differs from my type of French, unless of course the Canadians I'm speaking with are making an effort to refrain from using Canadian vocabulary.

 

This is why I find it odd that clients would request Canadian French.

 

Yes, I have thought about the possibility of clients wanting to weed out some French speakers, probably because of the time difference. 

 

And why don't American clients specify that they want American English? Why is it only Canadians that seem to bother to make such specifications? See what I mean?

I only remember that the counting in Switzerland and France is different once you reach 80 (not as age).

My husband and I are discovering a lot of "cultural" differences between East and Westgermany recently. We have a small kid (almost 21/2) and we were raised completely different when it comes to the books we had as kids and what was on TV. We both had a Casimir/Kasimir but from completely different shows. Everytime one of us mentioned Casimir/Kasimir we were thinking of different caracters without realising until last week.

 

So, depending on the topic it might make a difference and by requesting Canadian French they try to exclude people with a completely different background but are native French. I guess you could still use some connects you can spare to reach out for the most promissing clients and convince them with your expertise.


@Luce N wrote:

And why don't American clients specify that they want American English? Why is it only Canadians that seem to bother to make such specifications? See what I mean?


 Oh but they absolutely do! As do English (UK) ones. On the rare occasion I translate to English I usually point out that whilst I can adapt my spelling and mostly the vocabulary to US English, the overall feel will be UK English.

 

It's also about tone, idioms, humour and cultural differences and etc.

 

As I said, I don't know whether it is the same with Canadian French and French French as I don't speak it well enough by any stretch of the imagination.

 

 

 

researchediting
Community Member


@Luce N wrote:

Could you please tell me why Canadians tend to request Canadian French translations? What on earth is that? It makes me want to laugh because I can just imagine a text full of charming Canadian words such as "présentement", "niaiseux" and the such. 


And why would they not? Family residing in Montréal, and formerly in Paris, report that Québécois is rife with Anglicisms, in some cases—to a far greater extent than is true of European French—displacing the native, Latinate, Academy-approved equivalent. Replacing a single such Anglicism—let alone a handful—with European usage could sink a text, or at least queer a tone geared to locals. Moreover, in an officially bilingual country with French being in a distinctly minority position, one can well imagine the scrutiny English-to-French translations must undergo to pass muster wth Canadian Francophones.




@Douglas Michael M wrote:


And why would they not? Family residing in Montréal, and formerly in Paris, report that Québécois is rife with Anglicisms, in some cases—to a far greater extent than is true of European French—displacing the native, Latinate, Academy-approved equivalent. Replacing a single such Anglicism—let alone a handful—with European usage could sink a text, or at least queer a tone geared to locals. Moreover, in an officially bilingual country with French being in a distinctly minority position, one can well imagine the scrutiny English-to-French translations must undergo to pass muster wth Canadian Francophones.


  I"m not too sure. I've been watching vlogs made by French speaking Canadians, it's mostly the accent that really makes a difference. OK, they do use anglicism and exotic expressions, but I'm sure most of them would not be used in a more formal situation, such as a user's manual.

I was chatting to a Canadian colleague of mine who lives in France and she agreed that in many cases, maybe not for a user manual for a knife sharpener, but for a business contract for example, or a legal translation, or even fiction it would make sense to use a translator who is a native speaker of the French spoken in the target country.

She said the differences are not huge, but significant enough.

 

As clients on Upwork obviously have the choice, why not.

 

You know what, I finally found a Canadian looking for a translator of English to French French. Such a relief.

Luce, earlier you said "I'm not so sure." I am sure.

 

Pronunciations are a challenge. A woman in Montreal answered my question with "It's the ermine." Three weeks later, I realized she had actually said, "It's winter." That's a single example from a list a thousand pages long.

 

Canadian French and French-French are largely mutually intelligible, unlike UK-US English, which have enough differences to lead to inevitable embarassment. However, legal and medical documents are written quite differently in Canada and France. Fiction - I once spent an hour trying to decipher something that I thought read "The butter rode the subway conductor to the graveyard," or something equally nonsensical. In the US, we confuse ourselves with punctuation. I read, "Right off, the bat therapy was painful." I'm sure it was. I wrote the author, who explained that it was a misplaced comma. "Right off the bat, therapy was painful."


@Bill H wrote:

Luce, earlier you said "I'm not so sure." I am sure.

 

Pronunciations are a challenge. A woman in Montreal answered my question with "It's the ermine." Three weeks later, I realized she had actually said, "It's winter." That's a single example from a list a thousand pages long.

 

Canadian French and French-French are largely mutually intelligible, unlike UK-US English, which have enough differences to lead to inevitable embarassment. However, legal and medical documents are written quite differently in Canada and France. Fiction - I once spent an hour trying to decipher something that I thought read "The butter rode the subway conductor to the graveyard," or something equally nonsensical. In the US, we confuse ourselves with punctuation. I read, "Right off, the bat therapy was painful." I'm sure it was. I wrote the author, who explained that it was a misplaced comma. "Right off the bat, therapy was painful."


In my opinion, there is also a little psychology involved. People seem to unsderstand a variant form of their language bettter if they like the country where that variant is used. 

 

Anyway, I'm sort of a linguist, I enjoy the challenge of understanding different pronunciations of whatever language I speak. To me, it's fun.


@Bill H wrote:

 

 

Canadian French and French-French are largely mutually intelligible, 


When I reverted to English after a failed attempt to understand a grocery store owner in a remote rural town in Québec, to whom I asked about an ATM, I owned my life only to Canadian strict gun laws.

 

If the shop owner had a gun, I'll be dead.

 

So I beg to differ.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless
millermelanie
Community Member

I cannot address French translation specifically, but I wonder if it is similar to the differences between American and Canadian English. I write articles for a non profit organization that assists battered women in Canada. In one of my pieces, I made a comment about not judging a woman until one has walked a mile in her pumps. I noticed that when the article was posted on their website, the coordinator had changed "pumps" to "shoes." I asked her why in the world would she have changed the phrasing back into the cliche. She told me that women in Canada do not call their closed toe heels, "pumps." I had no idea! There's more to it than just changing "color" to "colour," etc. 


@Melanie M wrote:

I cannot address French translation specifically, but I wonder if it is similar to the differences between American and Canadian English. I write articles for a non profit organization that assists battered women in Canada. In one of my pieces, I made a comment about not judging a woman until one has walked a mile in her pumps. I noticed that when the article was posted on their website, the coordinator had changed "pumps" to "shoes." I asked her why in the world would she have changed the phrasing back into the cliche. She told me that women in Canada do not call their closed toe heels, "pumps." I had no idea! There's more to it than just changing "color" to "colour," etc. 


 Melanie, this is what I would expect: Canadians asking for translation into French could then have the translation proofread/edited to make sure it sounds Canadian. It shouldn't be that complicated.


Luce N wrote: 

....Canadians asking for translation into French could then have the translation proofread/edited to make sure it sounds Canadian. It shouldn't be that complicated.


Indeed they could. Not quite sure what you mean by “[not] that complicated.” Isn’t hiring two professionals more complicated, and expensive, than hiring one?


@Douglas Michael M wrote:

Luce N wrote: 

....Canadians asking for translation into French could then have the translation proofread/edited to make sure it sounds Canadian. It shouldn't be that complicated.


Indeed they could. Not quite sure what you mean by “[not] that complicated.” Isn’t hiring two professionals more complicated, and expensive, than hiring one?

 


 Not that complicated means that. When your look at jobs offered, many companies have their translations checked. 


@Luce N wrote:

@Douglas Michael M wrote:

Luce N wrote: 

....Canadians asking for translation into French could then have the translation proofread/edited to make sure it sounds Canadian. It shouldn't be that complicated.


Indeed they could. Not quite sure what you mean by “[not] that complicated.” Isn’t hiring two professionals more complicated, and expensive, than hiring one?

 


 Not that complicated means that. When your look at jobs offered, many companies have their translations checked. 


We seem to differ in our understanding of “complicated.” 

versailles
Community Member

Written French is pretty much standardized. A Parisian reading an article published in a newspaper from Montréal about an international event wouldn't notice that it was written by a Quebecer.

 

However, when it comes to fiction, a text with dialogues from French Canadian characters would be hard to understand for a Parisian. Indeed, spoken French in Québec differs significantly from written French and standard French and is full of informal vocabulary rarely used in formal written Canadian French.

 

While Québec strongly enforces the French language charter, also known as Law 101, which somehow prohibits the usage of English words in many circumstances, technical vocabulary in Québec still uses many Anglicisms. This is true in automotive for instance. Mechanics borrows a lot of its vocabulary from English. The reason is that it relates to concepts that were invented long after the French colonization of North America.

 

Anyone seeking to translate technical, legal or fiction material should definitely hire a Quebecer.

 

PS: This post was written by a well-traveled French linguist living in France, who loves everything about Québec but the poutine.

 

PPS: poutine in Québec is a food. Don't eat it though, unless you are lost in the wild and stranded in a snowstorm and running out of real food. It's totally disgusting.

 

PPPS: I'm serious. Don't try.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless


@Rene K wrote:

Written French is pretty much standardized. A Parisian reading an article published in a newspaper from Montréal about an international event wouldn't notice that it was written by a Quebecer.

 

However, when it comes to fiction, a text with dialogues from French Canadian characters would be hard to understand for a Parisian. Indeed, spoken French in Québec differs significantly from written French and standard French and is full of informal vocabulary rarely used in formal written Canadian French.

 

While Québec strongly enforces the French language charter, also known as Law 101, which somehow prohibits the usage of English words in many circumstances, technical vocabulary in Québec still uses many Anglicisms. This is true in automotive for instance. Mechanics borrows a lot of its vocabulary from English. The reason is that it relates to concepts that were invented long after the French colonization of North America.

 

Anyone seeking to translate technical, legal or fiction material should definitely hire a Quebecer.

 

PS: This post was written by a well-traveled French linguist living in France, who loves everything about Québec but the poutine.

 

PPS: poutine in Québec is a food. Don't eat it though, unless you are lost in the wild and stranded in a snowstorm and running out of real food. It's totally disgusting.

 

PPPS: I'm serious. Don't try.


 Just Googled poutine. It looks really, really, disgusting, so I won't try it- even if I could get cheese curds.


@Reinier B wrote:

 

 Just Googled poutine. It looks really, really, disgusting, so I won't try it- even if I could get cheese curds.

 Poutine doesn't appeal to me, but do snails appeal to you, Reinier? What about insects or frogs?

 

We all have our preferences...


@Luce N wrote:

@Reinier B wrote:

 

 Just Googled poutine. It looks really, really, disgusting, so I won't try it- even if I could get cheese curds.

 Poutine doesn't appeal to me, but do snails appeal to you, Reinier? What about insects or frogs?

 

We all have our preferences...



@Luce N wrote:

@Reinier B wrote:

 

 Just Googled poutine. It looks really, really, disgusting, so I won't try it- even if I could get cheese curds.

 Poutine doesn't appeal to me, but do snails appeal to you, Reinier? What about insects or frogs?

 

We all have our preferences...


The only time it's ever made any sense was when it was really cold (-20°C) and I'd had a lot of beer. It seems to work for two factors, alcohol absorption and increasing the protective fat level in your system. 

And if you want something translated into Quebec French, you really should hire a francophone Quebecker. I can't understand why you wouldn't do that since it's easy enough to find someone on the platform.  

Differences that you perceive as trivial or unimportant may not be when you accidentally  discover what they are.  It may depend on the type of document you're trying to translate but if you can get a regional specialist, why on earth would you take a chance?

I'll give you an example of an innocent mistake you could make with UK and US English. In UK English, when people say "pants" they mean the item of clothing the British call "trousers." If you say "pants" to a UK English speaker, from what I hear this means what a US speaker might call "underpants" or "undergarments." Even though it might not crop up in most applications, you don't know what the problem could be until you run into it.

And actually, I don't know what the problem with "pumps" would be. You could also say "a mile in her heels." Maybe you  just got an overly fastidious editor?

Wait till a Parisian translates I'm off to play with my kids by the school.

 

Then you'll see why knowledge of regional vocabulary matters.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

I'll give you an example of an innocent mistake you could make with UK and US English...

 

It's often much more subtle. It's easy to learn alternative words and the different ways prepositions are used, but people run into trouble with calling the ground floor the first floor, and don't realise that in British English it would almost always be a mistake to call someone a "merchant banker". I'd always assumed similar issues to apply with different forms of French - with different forms of any language, really.

 


@Kim F wrote:

I'll give you an example of an innocent mistake you could make with UK and US English...


@You guys can go out and smoke a f@g (I had to use the @ instead of "a" because the message editor would **Bleep** it).

An American would be arrested for that.

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

@ Rene: > You guys can go out and smoke a f@g 

 

It's even better if you say it properly: 'Fancy a f@g?' 


@Kim F wrote:

@ Rene: > You guys can go out and smoke a f@g 

 

It's even better if you say it properly: 'Fancy a f@g?' 


As a chyron on _Laugh-In_ once advised:
For a fun evening, make a fruit cordial.

renata101
Community Member


@Luce N wrote:

Could you please tell me why Canadians tend to request Canadian French translations? What on earth is that? It makes me want to laugh because I can just imagine a text full of charming Canadian words such as "présentement", "niaiseux" and the such. 


Luce, I'm Canadian, but I'm not originally from Quebec. I'm a  conversational FSL speaker (and a imperfect one), so I'm not an expert commentator. (Take everything I say with a grain of salt and some cheese curds.) Petra's answer is along the right track. One part of it is that many terms used here originate from older French terms (French settlers first started arriving here in the 1600s). And some of the tech terms used here are different. The informal street lingo and idioms are a lot different.  The legal language is probably unique.  And, of couse, it's likely that some of the appropriate swear words might be completely lost on the average Parisian.  



@Renata S wrote:


Luce, I'm Canadian, but I'm not originally from Quebec. I'm a  conversational FSL speaker (and a imperfect one), so I'm not an expert commentator. (Take everything I say with a grain of salt and some cheese curds.) Petra's answer is along the right track. One part of it is that many terms used here originate from older French terms (French settlers first started arriving here in the 1600s). And some of the tech terms used here are different. The informal street lingo and idioms are a lot different.  The legal language is probably unique.  And, of couse, it's likely that some of the appropriate swear words might be completely lost on the average Parisian.  



Of course I'm aware that there are differences between Canadian French and French French, but it sort of feels strange to know that I cannot apply to a English to French translation because I speak French and not Canadian French.

 

 

Before I noticed that on Upwork, I had never thought this could happen. It's a bit of a shock.


@Luce N wrote:


Of course I'm aware that there are differences between Canadian French and French French, but it sort of feels strange to know that I cannot apply to a English to French translation because I speak French and not Canadian French.

 

Before I noticed that on Upwork, I had never thought this could happen. It's a bit of a shock.


And the rest of us language professionals, translators or not, are baffled by your reaction to a perfectly rational business decision on the part of clients.

Also, nothing prevents you from applying to these jobs and making your case there. That advice has been repeated endlessly in the fora by our colleagues who have successfully won jobs despite not meeting very specifically stated client requirements. Your mileage may vary.


@Douglas Michael M wrote:

@Luce N wrote:


Of course I'm aware that there are differences between Canadian French and French French, but it sort of feels strange to know that I cannot apply to a English to French translation because I speak French and not Canadian French.

 

Before I noticed that on Upwork, I had never thought this could happen. It's a bit of a shock.


And the rest of us language professionals, translators or not, are baffled by your reaction to a perfectly rational business decision on the part of clients.

Also, nothing prevents you from applying to these jobs and making your case there. That advice has been repeated endlessly in the fora by our colleagues who have successfully won jobs despite not meeting very specifically stated client requirements. Your mileage may vary.


Please don't be baffled, I'm not stupid,  I perfectly understand the whole situation. It's just that I had never thought that French Canadians considered their language so different from French, and noting on Upwork that they made this difference was a total surprise. I thought that for a formal type of document, they would just think French French was proper enough.

 

Another thing is that many English to French translation offers request Canadian French - and I don't really think it would be worth applying for this type of offers. 

 


@Luce N wrote:

It's just that I had never thought that French Canadians considered their language so different from French,  

Again, written French is pretty much the same and you'll be able to translate for French Canadian readership unless it is something that specifically requires vocabulary that is used only in QC. You wouldn't want to translate an auto repair manual for instance. Or a novel with dialogues.

 

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"Where darkness shines like dazzling light"   —William Ashbless

Yeah I will do translation candian into french

i want to work as a translator from french language 

traductionjf
Community Member

I cannot beleive that somebody has really been asking that question : "Could you please tell me why Canadians tend to request Canadian French translations?" It is evident. It is obvious. Are you really a translator?

I am, Jacqueline, and I'm currently doing a translation for a Canadian company that exports a lot to France.

a00757da
Community Member

Canada is a bilingual country with two official languages - English and French. Canadian French, or Franco-Canadians, primarily reside in the province of Quebec and represent the largest francophone community in Canada.

Canadian French translation refers to the translation from French to English or vice versa that takes into account Canada's cultural and linguistic particularities. This may include the use of terminology accepted in Canada and the inclusion of Canadian French dialects.

There are several reasons why Canadians may request Canadian French translation. Firstly, they may want to translate documents or materials into another language so that they are accessible to Canadians who speak a different language. Secondly, they may want to ensure that the translation aligns with Canada's cultural and linguistic particularities so that it can be understood and used here.

Regarding funny words that may appear in Canadian French texts, this depends on the text's topic and level of formality. Some Canadian words may be unique to Canadian culture and language, but overall Canadian French translation should be understandable and accessible to all who speak both languages.