Our French translators received their training at France’s, Switzerland’s and Quebec’s best universities
Speakers of French in general, whether they come from France itself, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada or any one of the 29 countries of Africa that have selected French their official language, are intensely proud of their language and quite unforgiving when it is not written or spoken correctly. It is for this reason that every member of our French translation team is a graduate (Masters/postgraduate) of the leading translation and interpretation programs at France’s, Switzerland’s and Quebec’s most coveted universities (including, among others, Paris-based ESIT Graduate School for Translation and Interpretation, University Laval Québec, Paris 6 (Pierre and Marie Curie University), the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, Montpellier-based Paul Valéry University and the University of Geneva’s Faculty of Translation and Interpreting), besides having years of experience across multiple industries, disciplines and topics. Please do not hesitate to contact us for your French translation needs and the translator with the best fit for the type of content will be assigned to render your website, marketing document, news release, public relations material or other document into the most elegant and vibrant French as written and spoken today.
The importance of French-language content as part of your corporate messaging campaign
Whether you are contemplating launching a campaign in France, another francophone country, across Europe, Africa or worldwide, French is a necessary component of such a campaign.
French is the sixth most spoken language in the world, and the official language in 29 countries
French is the official language in 29 countries, which puts it in second place behind English.
The language is the official or one of the official languages in five European countries (Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Monaco and Switzerland); 15 African countries (Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, the Ivory Coast, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles and Togo); and two countries across the Americas (Canada and Haiti), as well as in France’s overseas regions and departments (French Guiana, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, Réunion), overseas collectives (French Polynesia, Saint Barthélemy, Saint Martin, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Wallis and Futuna) and one sui generis collective (New Caledonia).
French is also the procedural language for the EU, the only language used for deliberations at the Court of Justice for the EU, and one of the six recognized working languages of the United Nations.
Spoken by some 300 million
French is the sixth most spoken language in the world with approximately 300 million speakers and the third most spoken language in Europe (80 million after Russian and German). Approximately 40% of the francophone population (including speakers of French as a second language and partial speakers) live in Europe, 35% in sub-Saharan Africa, 15% in North Africa and the Middle East, 8% in the Americas, and 1% in Asia and Oceania.
Africa, although being in second place, behind Europe, in terms of the number of speakers, is a huge area of growth for the language. According to a demographic study undertaken by the Université Laval and the Réseau Démographie de l’Agence universitaire de la francophonie, the total number of French speakers will climb to some 500 million in 2025 and 650 million by 2050, 80% of whom will be in Africa. Any general outreach to Africa must include 4 languages, Arabic, English, French and Portuguese, in order to achieve 100% coverage in formal circles.
Will you need more than one version of your translation?
When planning your French marketing or outreach program, speak to us about your target audience. If you are seeking to reach both French-speaking Canada and any other part of the francophone world, you will require two versions of the translation, one destined for Canada and another one for any other French-speaking markets. The people of Quebec with the support of the Quebec government are very protective of their version of French, which, by law, avoids the borrowing and use of English terms and has conserved certain French terms and expressions which are no longer used elsewhere in the French-speaking world. France, on the contrary, most notably over the course of the last 30 years, has happily borrowed many English words, especially when it comes to fashion and technology. Each side determinedly stands by their version of the language, behooving the marketer to create two versions in order to reach both (Quebec and non-Quebec) markets. The French as used in France is fully accepted elsewhere worldwide.
There are slight differences between the French of the different countries. The French of Switzerland and Belgium are well known for the different way they say the numbers “seventy” and “ninety”. In France, they are soixante-dix and quatre-vingt-dix, whereas in Belgium, the two numbers are septante and nonante. Belgians say quatre-vingts for eighty, like the French, while the Swiss prefer huitante. The Belgians, the Swiss and the French Canadians refer to lunch as le dîner, with the French calling it ledéjeuner. Similarly, the three groups outside of France call “dinner” lesouper, whereas in France, the third meal of the day is called ledîner. A biggie in Belgium is that savoir (to know) is often used in the place of pouvoir (to be able [to]), a big difference when asking a waiter in a restaurant if he can bring a certain dish. The French spoken in the French or romande part of Switzerland has its own set of particularities, such as, in France, a post office box being called a boîte postale (BP), whereas in Switzerland (as in French Canada), it is called a case postale (CP).
French as spoken in Africa has its own history and set of rules, with the way the language spoken there grouped into four categories: West and Central African French; Maghreb French (the French as spoken in Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia); the variety spoken in Djibouti and the French-based creole languages spoken in the Indian Ocean (Réunion, Mauritius and Seychelles). In the cities and urbanized areas of francophone Africa, another variety of French has emerged: le français populaire africain (“Popular African French”). It has become a type of lingua franca throughout the entirety of sub-Saharan Africa, especially among the better educated, and most notably in Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire; Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso; Dakar in Senegal; Cotonou in Benin; and Lomé in Togo.
With the exception of French Canada, as explained above, a document for general distribution throughout the French-speaking world can be translated into the French of France and is fully acceptable to francophone audiences worldwide. However, if your document is specific to Belgium, Switzerland, a group of African countries or even a specific African country, it is best to use a translator native to that country or region.
We have Language Matter Experts who can assist in determining the correct type of French to use for your campaign into French-speaking markets
We have translators on staff who are native to every key French-speaking region, including France, French Canada, Belgium, Switzerland and francophone Africa. If you are unsure as to what style of French should be chosen for your translation or whether a second version of your translation is necessary, we can put you in direct contact with one of our Language Matter Experts who can help in making the appropriate determination.
If your document is intended for a single market, such as Belgium, Switzerland, Africa in general or a specific African country, we have translators who are native speakers of the variety of French in your targeted region, and the most appropriate translator will be selected to handle your translation or localization assignment.
Please do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your French translation and localization project.