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  • nicholasbachant-la

Parlez-vous français? Of course, but which one?

Such as the English language, French is widely used across the world and spans over continents and cultures. English spoken in the United Kingdom is different than English spoken in the United States due to historical and cultural influences, resulting in differences in vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation.

The very same thing can be said about French, as oceans and mountains and history shapes how a people acts and talks. Additionally, French Canadian culture has been shaped by the country's unique history and relationship with the indigenous peoples and other immigrant groups, and has a distinct identity that sets it apart from French culture in France.

That makes us wonder how languages is a fascinating field of study, how languages evolve in time and in space.

But as a professional linguist, the major difference between the French language and the French-Canadian dialect goes further than just merely words: it is much more about societal and cultural


I sometime stumble on articles on the Web that even though they are written in French, they do not have a familiar tone. It is quite simple what is happening here: the author of said articles came from France, and is using words, expressions and different dialect and syntax than I am accustomed to. Even though the copies can be interesting, I tend to skim through them and not really act upon reading it, simply because of how the copy is written, for a different target audience than me.

Why is that?

The educational school system in France, its authors, its media world has a different feel than what we are accustomed to in Canada. That is mainly why in the field of translation we give importance to the dialect, a form of a language that is spoken in a particular geographic region or by a specific group of people, and not just the language.

If you are in the business of translation, if you want to reach new people in new markets, you have to use words and talk to them in a way they will understand you AND in a way you want them to ACT. The best way to do that is ultimately in working with someone that is not just a linguist, but also a cultural expert.

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