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ABOUT FRENCH


There are 6 main dialect groups of French, with more subgroups: European French, Quebec Canadian French, Haitian Creole, African French, Island French, Cajun.

EUROPEAN FRENCH
This is the main and acknowledged "proper" French. It is the French translation of choice for documents or recordings that will be sent to multiple countries, and also the language for legal and other official translated materials throughout the French speaking world. There are stringent rules for French grammar, spelling and usage, all emanating from France, and accepted worldwide. The French are patriotic and have the solid history of being the center of the French universe. France has been one of the civilized world's unforgettable influence in art, culture, language and music.

For advertising, the rules of French grammar can be bent, just as in English, but the advertising writer must know the exact flexibility of the language, or risk serious offense. When working with European French language countries, other dialect translations are not acceptable. Thus, it is not accepted to use a Quebec or an African translator for a project destined for Europe. Under-educated written French will also damage a client's image, and a dialect voice talent used on sales or training multimedia will significantly miss its mark. On the other hand, excellent French translations created in France, and multimedia that use voice talent recorded directly in France are received with wild enthusiasm.

QUEBEC CANADIAN FRENCH
Extremely popular in North America, Canadian French as spoken in Quebec is a dialect. The popularity of Canadian French translation is in part due to the increase in effectiveness and higher sales linked to a good Canadian French translation, and is also the result of Canadian law that certain materials must be bilingual English-French to be allowed into the Canadian market. The French of Quebec is recognizable by different word usage and grammar differences from Euro French. For voice recordings, Quebec has 3 major variations on its own dialect, each accent sounding stronger to the ear. There is a "broadcast accent" that is used by news anchors and major national commercials;  a more "Quebec" sound that is used for most advertising, video translations and training and sales DVDs;   and a third accent called "street accent" that is never used for recordings unless there is a specific reason. The people of Quebec are lively, dynamic and extremely patriotic. Although they will understand Euro French translation with no trouble, and do, in fact, watch French television and read French literature, Canadians prefer their own version of the language. Particularly in marketing, they feel as if a Euro French translation is not directed to them, but rather to someone else. Thus, there is strong sales impact in using Canadian French translations and voice talent.

OTHER EURO FRENCH
French is also a major language in Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland and Monaco. These countries are highly educated in pure European French, following the strict grammar rules of France, and very well versed in higher vocabulary and elegant speech. There is very little difference between the French spoken in these countries and the French of France. However, there is a slightly smoother pronunciation, a bit less "Parisian" feel, and some word differences. The attitude of the population in general is also different, thus advertising and marketing success may be increased with a slightly different "bent".

HAITIAN CREOLE FRENCH
Haitian French is an extremely heavy dialect. Words are quite charming, a mishmash of French, Spanish, English and pure Haitian. Many Europeans cannot understand Haitian French at all, and therefore Haitians have mastered the art of speaking more "universal" French to outsiders in order to be understood, then retreat to their dialect among themselves. Thus, Creole is acceptable in Haiti, Euro French with Haitian accent, and Euro French is acceptable for educated Haitian population and official documentation.

AFRICAN FRENCH
For many countries in North Africa and other African areas, French is the language of choice for legal and corporate issues, though not always. Most persons with higher education are fully trained and versed in the pure language, and French translations are quite common for business purposes. Because these countries, like the "Other Euro French" countries, have other languages within their own borders (namely Arabic, Berber, tribal languages, and others), their French tends to be more simplified in order to assure that all readers comprehend, with some local mix of word usage and simplified grammar.

ISLAND FRENCH AND OTHER
Varieties of French combine with local words and accents to form varieties of dialects as found in Tahiti, Martinique, Guadeloupe, New Caledonia, Madagascar, and other islands of the South Pacific, Caribbean and Africa. Persons of high education will have studied in European French, but lesser educated persons are often overwhelmed by pure Euro French translations. The local language of these regions is the main language for inhabitants, and general population educational level is often low though the cultures are lively, musical and artistic.
Other pockets of French include Cajun French from Louisiana.

For more on French languages, click here.