You say Tomato I say Tomato

Have you heard that saying, “You say Tomato and I say Tomato”? It is the same word but some people pronounce the “O” differently changing the sound of the word. The phrase came to mind the other day when I was reading an article and it reminded me of a story my husband told me about a conversation he had with a man when delivering product as truck driver in Montreal.

My husband was learning French at the time and was a truck driver delivering to Quebec on a weekly basis. He delivered chemical to boiler areas at various companies throughout the Province and part of the delivery method was to find certain tanks and verify the location before transferring the chemicals into it. As he got to the area for delivery of this certain delivery he was escorted by an employee of the company to the area required. As they searched for the tank required my husband was trying to speak French only as the employee spoke little English. Knowing that the French word for tank is “Reservoir” he kept saying that word and reading off the associated number. The problem was the French employee didn’t understand what my husband was saying. They finally found the tank and when my husband returned back to the yard he asked his co-workers how they say the word “reservoir” as he thought he had been saying it incorrectly. The drivers said he was saying it correctly so now he was confused as to why the employee didn’t understand him. He asked his co-workers what they say and they said we just call it a “tank”.

women-with-tomatoes

‘“Tank” is an English word and many parts of Quebec use a blend of English and French with some areas introducing their own slang from the area. This is the reason that if dealing with Quebec for business or in communications it is important to understand the dialect of the region. Parisian French and Quebec French are not so different in a formal format but when introduced into a region of Quebec it can be hard to read. Ensure you are understood if dealing with the Province of Quebec by making sure any translated documents are from someone that understands the language of Quebec especially the region of the recipient.

About the Author

Carmen Outridge owns Outridge Translation Services a Division of Outridge Enterprises Inc. offering English to French translation services for those operating in the Province of Quebec. She has been in the translation industry for over 30 years and is originally from Quebec. Services include document translation, presentation translation, web translation, and voice-over work. If you have documents you need translated then visit www.outridgetranslation.com and have your translation completed the way Quebec expects it!

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