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What you Need to Know about French Dialects

French is the official language of France and 24 other countries, so you know there are a lot of French dialects to consider when you're translating any type of document. The purpose of this page is to help you understand what these dialects are and how you can create your own French dialect dictionary to get the most accurate translation possible.

What is a French Dialect?

A French dialect refers to a certain area of the speech that may vary a little. This usually applies to the vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation characteristics of specific geographic localities or social classes.

For instance, in English there are many different dialects but if you know English you can still understand most of them. In England you can easily pick up a British newspaper and read it, but there are some words that have different meanings. For example, they may say "I am going to move into a my flat this weekend". In America we would say, "I am moving into my apartment this weekend". They simply use the word "flat" instead of "apartment" and this is just one of the many vocabulary differences.

Create your own French dialect dictionary

With the more professional translation software packages you can train the software for different French dialects by building customized dictionaries and even more advanced translation tools like translation memory. This allows you to create your own French dialect dictionary and get a more accurate translation.



Popular French Dialects

Standard French or Parisian French (also known as Metropolitan French)

The standard French dialect is Parisian, which is the original French spoken in France. This is considered the standard dialect for French and you will find that books, movies and other forms of media use this standard dialect when converting information into French. Systran uses Standard French Dialect.

Canadian French

If you are in the United States you will find Canadian French is commonly found in the USA and Canada. Quebec, a province of Canada, is primarily made up of French speakers and there are attempts to make it the official language. You will hear the term "Canadian French" a lot to indicate the dialect of this region of Canada. Since the USA and Canada are very close in proximity we encounter this dialect a lot. Standard French and the French spoken in Qu├ębec are about as different as British and American English. Differing vocabulary, pronunciation, and even grammar make Canadian French a dialect.

Cajun French

Cajun French is a French dialect commonly spoken in the state of Louisiana in the USA. In the year 1755 the Grand Derangement forced Acadians (French colony of eastern Canada) to leave their homes and relocate. Many settled in Louisiana and their French language gradually evolved into what we call Cajun French.

African French

French in Africa is spoken by many people. A large number of states in the continent of Africa speak French with local specificities. French arrived in Africa with colonization from France and Belgium.

Lebanese French

Many people may not realize that French was the official language of Lebanon until 1941.


European French Dialects

Belgian French

Belgian French and the French of France are almost identical and hence mutually intelligible, but there are distinct phonological and lexical differences.

Swiss French

This dialect is spoken in the French speaking area of Switzerland known as Romandy. There are very minor differences between this dialect and the Parisian French.

Aostan French

This is the dialect spoken mostly in Italy.



Systran's French Translation Software / Using the World Standard Dialect

Our French translation software uses the Standard or Parisian French dialect for the translation. You can easily customize the French dialect dictionary to another dialect by training the software to recognize different words for another dialect by building your own custom dictionaries, building translation memory and more. For example, you can easily create a "French Canadian Dialect" dictionary.

Overall the differences between the French dialects of Europe and the USA with reference to pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar are relatively minor so if you translate with the software usually a person that speaks the language can understand the minor differences.



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