French throughout the world

The French language is spoken by over 72 million people around the world, in over 25 countries. With such diversity, it is not surprising that most countries have developed cultural and linguistic specificities. Each country possesses its own expressions, vocabulary, and of course, its own pronunciation.

These differences, whether national or local, have always intrigued me. Since I have family in both Quebec and Switzerland, I have always enjoyed comparing and contrasting the words and expressions used in theses French speaking countries. For example, French Canadians will translate most words of English origin used in the French language (e.g.: parking, hot dog…), which can sometimes be amusing for French speaking tourists.

But language differences are far from being the only amusing aspect of this topic. Translations, from foreign languages into French, are often rather funny.

Take for example these instructions for a garment which is sold in Canada:

  • Made in Turkey
  • Fabriqué en Dinde

The French version explains that it is made in turkey (the animal)

Another example would be the warning label on a bag of potato chips:

  • This product can contain nuts
  • Ce produit peut contenir des dingues

This one states that the product may contain crazy people…

Undoubtedly, as long as we will speak different languages, and will have to translate from one language to another, part on the meaning will get lost in translation… But it is a fact that we keep improving our knowledge in foreign languages, as mentalities change, and the wind of globalization pushes to a more uniform world, strongly dominated by the English language.

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