Not All French is the Same

Last year my spouse and I took a trip to Quebec City. We had been there many times and enjoy the culture very much. Since I was born less than an hour away from there in a small town it is like going home every time we revisit the area. My husband and I were waiting in line at a bank machine when this woman came to us asking for help with directions. She was speaking French and so I began to ask what she needed? She was reading a schedule for a show but the way she was asking her questions almost seemed foreign to me. Was she speaking French? Was I missing certain words? My husband and I have both traveled to France and even though we may use different words I don’t normally have trouble understanding what they were saying, however this women was speaking something entirely different. We managed to help the women but only after piecing things together. It reminded me how different French is across the globe.

French may be different across a very small region within the same country as well. For instance Quebec French is quite different from the French from the East Coast of Canada. This women we helped may have been from France, but possibly from a region outside of the city. Different areas have different dialects and if dealing with that region it is important that you have someone that knows the lingo. Many assume that all French is the same and it is easy to think that way because usually it isn’t a problem to understand someone knowing the language. When doing business however, it is even more important that the people of that region have a clear understanding of the material being supplied so that it attracts business for the vendor. If you call a store something different from what it is the customer may never find it. Quebec City was a good reminder that not all French is the same. Finding a translator that understands the language of the region is the first step in a successful translation plan.

About the Author

Carmen Outridge is Vice President and in house translator for Outridge Translation Services. She has been in the industry for over 30 years and understands and comes from the Province of Quebec in Canada. For more information on Outridge Translation Services and their services please visit their website at

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