Quebec-France differences (longish, sorry!)

Subject: Quebec-France differences (longish, sorry!)
From: Fabien Vais <phantoms -at- ACCENT -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 1997 12:55:42 -0400

Hi all,

Since I was the originator of this thread, I think it's time for me to step
in and make a few more comments on the topic. First of all, thanks to all
who have commented on this topic. All of your comments helped, albeit a
little bit.

Geoff Hart was 100% right. I am indeed very familiar with most of the
language resources most of you have proposed. I am fluently bilingual
(English and French), having been a technical translator for close to 20
years. And I truly apologize for having omitted to give you some background
information before making my request for help.

I have lived in Montreal, Quebec most of my life, and I understand the
language situation here quite well.

Thank you to John Cornellier for setting the record straight about the
French spoken in Quebec. Yes, the French spoken here is no different than
the English spoken in South Carolina or Texas. It is NOT Franglais (not a
language at all, but more of a slang ("unwelcome" and considered uneducated,
etc.) mixture of French and English used here in Quebec). Another term -
"Joual" is more of a dialect of the French language spoken here. The word
comes from the bastardized (I hate that word...!) pronunciation of the
French word "cheval" (horse). The basic difference between Joual and French
is the slurred pronunciation of words, traditionally combined with more
cussing and swear words, and frequent English terms.

There are obviously French regionalisms here, as there are in every part of
the world. Most people (on this list at least...) are well aware of English
regionalisms, especially between the States and Great Britain - trunk (of a
car) vs boot, subway vs tube, color vs colour, travelling vs traveling,
chemist vs druggist, etc. By the way, although there are dozens more, the
best site I have found is probably the following for American vs British terms:
http://www.peak.org/~jeremy/dictionary/dict.html
Another excellent site is: http://www.scit.wlv.ac.uk/wwlib/american.html

Much fewer people, however, even here in Quebec, know of French
regionalisms. What IS known well are words which are OK to use in Quebec,
but which would be meaningless in France. For example, "un banc de neige" (a
snowbank), la fin de semaine (literally "the end of the week" - in France,
they say "le weekend"!). These terms are not used in France. These words and
expressions I AM WELL AWARE OF. I AM NOT TALKING ABOUT SPOKEN FRENCH.

What I was referring to in my original request are TECHNICAL TERMS as used
in French software documentation.

For example, Catherine McNair informed me (Thanks, Catherine!) that in
Quebec it is correct to put accents on Capital letters, where appropriate,
whereas in France, it isn't ususally done. I was not aware of this.
Catherine, can I trust that this is a generally accepted fact? Also, "le
web" in Quebec vs "la Toile" in France, and "le fax" vs "la télécopie".
Please understand that I knew that "a fax" was "une télécopie" in French.
What I didn't know was that this term ("télécopie") was NOT used in France,
but only here in Quebec. THAT'S THE KIND OF DIFFERENCES I WAS REFERRING TO.

Another example came from Susan Brown. Susan, is it true that French user
documentation would use the passive voice rather than the active voice in
their procedures? This would be news to me. If it is true, then thank you
very much for enlightening me.

Another excellent suggestion came from Geoff Hart. That is to acquire the
appropriate spellchecker dictionaries for my Microsoft Word. Did you know
that Microsoft has created distinct dictionaries for "Canadian French" and
"French French"? What I would need is a dictionary that would show me
"equivalent" data processing terms in Quebec French and French French. This
would obviously not be a very large dictionary, since most words are indeed
the same (like Texan English regionalisms vs King's English
regionalisms...!!), but this is what is hard to find.

Other examples are:
In Quebec: un PC (a PC, personal computer)
In France: un OP (ordinateur personnel)
BUT IS THIS WHAT IS REALLY USED IN FRANCE?

In Quebec: le (système) DOS (Disk Operating System)
In France: le (système) SED (Système d'exploitation de disques)
IS THIS ACRONYM REALLY USED THOUGH?

In Quebec: zone de travail (work area)
In France: espace de travail (work space)
THIS IS MORE LIKELY, BUT CAN ANYONE CONFIRM THIS?

I know there are many others. Does anyone know where I could get my hands on
a dictionary of these equivalent terms and phrases, or at least a list?
Hopefully on the Net. There has to be something!!

Thank you all again for your help with my quest. Again, if I find anything
substantial, I will gladly share it with the list.

Fabien Vais
phantoms -at- accent -dot- net

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