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C’est tiguidou ça! Translator adds Canadian French

Image: Château Frontenac in Ville de Québec, Québec, Canada

Today, we are releasing Canadian French as a unique language option within Microsoft Translator. Previously, we offered French as a single language option and although the system could translate Canadian French, you could not specifically choose to translate to or from Canadian French rather than European French. Beginning today, you can select “French (Canada)” for Canadian French or “French” for European and other dialects of French for translations to or from any of the more than 70 languages available in Microsoft Translator.

Canadian French is available now in the Microsoft Translator apps and Translator for Bing. It is also available now, or will be available within the next few days in other products with translation provided by Microsoft Translator such as Office, Immersive Reader, Edge, and other products and add-ins.

You can add Canadian French text translation to or from more than 70 languages to your apps, websites, workflows, and tools with Azure Cognitive Services Translator. You can also use Azure Cognitive Services Speech, which combines Translator’s AI-powered translation service with Speech’s advanced speech recognition and speech synthesis, to add speech-to-speech or text-to-speech translation to your products.

Why add Canadian French?

French is one of two official languages in Canada. Over seven million Canadians speak French as their first language (over 20% of the population of the nation), and another two million speak it as a second language. While the majority of French speakers live in the province of Québec, many can also be found in every province and territory across Canada.

Although Canadian French and European French are similar to one another and are mutually understandable, there can be significant differences in vocabulary, grammar, writing, and pronunciation. Canadian French also has many idioms and unique sayings that would be understood by people familiar with Canadian French, but would not make sense to a person who only spoke European French.

An example of where the differences might be particularly noticeable would be instant messaging and social media. A French speaking Canadian may use different words to express themselves than someone in France, and the translation model that is used needs to be tuned to accurately translate what was written. Output translation in Canadian French may also differ from European French, but the differences will generally be less pronounced.

We worked with translators and consultants throughout Canada to produce models that could accurately translate Canadian French for all regions. As we continue to gather more data from Canada, our systems will get even more accurate over time.

Differences in vocabulary

There are many ways in which vocabulary can differ between Canadian French and European French. One of the most obvious is that the two regions may prefer different words or expressions to refer to the same thing. For example, in France after the long work week you’d be excited for the “week-end”, however in Canada, particularly in Québec, you’d be relieved that it was the “fin de semaine” (literally: “end of week”). If you were parking your car in France, you’d look for “parking”, but in Canada you’d look for “stationnement.”

Sometimes, you may use the same word but it would mean different things in Canadian French and European French. For instance, in France you would refer to your cell phone as your “portable”, however if a French speaking Canadian heard the word “portable”, he or she would think you were talking about your laptop. Similarly, if you were to take some notes in your “cartable” in Canada, Canadians would know you were taking notes in your “ring binder”, however someone in France might be confused as to why you were taking notes in your “satchel”. If you invited someone over for “dîner” in France, they would get there by 7 PM, but they would be there at noon for lunch in Canada.

Canadian French also has some words that wouldn’t be familiar to a French speaker in France. If you were to put on your mittens to go outside on a cold day, in Canada you’d put on your “casquette et mitaines”, but in France you’d put on your “casquette et moufles”

There may also be some differences in word choice in different regions of Canada. A car is called “voiture” in Québec and Europe. In New Brunswick, although the word “voiture” is used, the word “char” is more common. The new Canadian French model would be able to better translate Canadian French than the European model, regardless of region.

Below are some additional examples of differences in official technical languages between Canadian and European French. The European examples are from the French Ministère de la culture and the Canadian examples are from the Office Québécois de la Langue Française, and the Government of Canada’s Translation Bureau.

European French Canadian French English
Filoutage Hameçonnage Phishing
Courriel non sollicité Pourriel Spam
Audio à la demande Baladodiffusion Podcast
Administrateur de site Webmestre Webmaster

Grammatical differences

Written formal text in European French will be readily comprehensible by a Canadian French speaker, however there are some differences such as the use of “on” instead of “nous” that is more frequent in familiar texts and social media.

European French Canadian French English
Nous allons aller au cinéma On va aller au cinéma (Québec)
On s’en va voir un film (Ontario)
We’re going to go to the movies.
C’est ce que nous allons faire C’est ça qu’on va faire That’s what we’re going to do
C’est ce que nous pensons C’est ça qu’on pense That’s what we think

Most grammatical differences between European French and Canadian French will be more obvious in spoken, familiar language. These include the systematic shortening of many prepositions. For instance, in Europe someone may say “Sur la table” to say “On the table.” In Québec, someone may shorten that to “S’a table”, and in New Brunswick it may be shortened to “Su la table”. Canadian French may also include older terminology known as archaisms that are not used, or are rarely used, in European French.

Preposition shortening:

European French Canadian French English
Dans les Dins In the
Elle m’a dit A m’a dit She told me
Il m’a dit Y m’a dit He told me
Je suis Chus I am


European French Canadian French English
Parce que À cause que Because
En ce moment Présentement (Québec)
Asteur (or “Astheure”, New Bruswick)

Differences in pronunciation

Some pronunciation differences that were present in France during the colonization of the Nouvelle-France (New France) are still present in Canada today while they have disappeared in European French. For example, in Canadian French, “maître” and “mettre” (“master” and “to put”) will sound different, whereas they sound similar in European French. The same goes for “pâte” and “patte” (“dough” and “leg”). These differences will be most noticeable by French speakers. Here some examples with sound provided by Cognitive Services Speech.

French European French Pronunciation Canadian French Pronunciation English
L’élève est devenu le maître
The student has become the master
Il m’a prêté un livre
He lent a book to me
On va faire la fête
We’re having a party


Canadian French also has many common sayings that don’t exist in France. Here are a few examples.

Idiom (In Canadian French) Translation Meaning
Avoir des bibittes To have bugs To have personal troubles or issues
Tire-toi une bûche (Québec)
Hale-toi une bûche (New Brunswick)
Pull yourself a log Sit Down
Je cogne des clous I’m banging nails I’m falling asleep
Attache ta tuque avec de la broche Tie on your hat with wires Get ready, it might get rowdy

What you can do with Microsoft Translator

At home
Translate real-time conversations, menus and street signs, websites, documents, and more using the Microsoft Translator app for Windows, iOS, Android, and the web. Learn more

At work
Globalize your business and customer interactions with text and speech translation powered by Translator and Microsoft Speech service, both members of the Azure Cognitive Services family. Learn more

In the classroom
Create a more inclusive classroom for both students and parents with live captioning and cross-language understanding.  Learn more

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