When deciding if you are going to localize to Canadian French, you have to consider the fact that there are French Canadians scattered from coast to coast. Will your product or service be offered to French speakers everywhere, or mainly in Quebec? 🤔 This may play a role in how you choose to approach your localization. You may use different logos for Quebec and the rest of Canada, or you may need two versions of French based on user location. We'll explore this specific topic in this article.

Most French speakers within Canada are, of course, located in Quebec, but a significant number live in other provinces and territories. If you use Quebec-specific local references, will they be understood by other French speakers who don't live in Quebec? Let's explore how French evolved, how to localize effectively for French Canadian audiences, and the current state of French in both Quebec and the Rest of Canada (ROC) is.


🍁 The languages spoken in Canada 🔗

Canada is a bilingual country that recognizes both English and French as its official languages. Of its over 40 million inhabitants, roughly 40% can carry a conversation in both languages.

Canada has ten provinces and three territories. The Canadian Government operates in both languages at the federal level, from its website to the House of Commons. However, each province is free to choose its own official language. 🗣️ As such, New Brunswick is the only province that fully recognizes both official languages, while Quebec only recognizes French. All other provinces and territories recognize English as their official language, but Nunavut also recognizes English, French, and Inuit.

We cannot minimize the fact that there are also strong French communities in Ontario and Manitoba and a growing number of francophones in British Columbia.


If you are building a well-rounded localization strategy, you should understand that Canada is also a diverse country that includes a melting pot of other languages such as Mandarin (531 k), Punjabi (520 k), Spanish (317 k), Arabic (286 k), Tagalog (275 k), and Urdu (158 k). Some companies opt to add some of these languages to their Canadian offerings, but you should make sure you understand your audience well before making this decision.

Lastly, there are also indigenous cultures of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit people who speak their own languages, such as Inuktitut, Oji-Cree, Dene, Blackfoot, Tlicho, and so many others (over 70 dialects).

🗣️ Understanding languages in Quebec 🔗

When it comes to the different languages spoken in the province of Quebec, 75% of the population has French as a first language, while 94% say that they can carry a conversation in French.

The other languages mostly spoken are English (51,7 %), Spanish (5.5%), Arabic (4.14%), Italian (2.02%), Haitian Creole (1.42%), and Mandarin (>1%).

More than half of the Quebec population speaks two or more languages. Source: 2021 Census of Canada.

Just like the rest of Canada, Quebec has 11 indigenous languages: Abenaki, Algonquin (Anishinabe), Attikamek, Cree (Eeyou), Huron-Wendat, Innu, Wolastoqiyik (Maliseet), Micmac, Mohawk (Kanien'kehà:ka), Naskapi, and Inuit. Due to its rich history with the First Nations, Quebec also has the largest number of Indigenous speakers.

⚜️ History at the center of language opportunity 🔗

For over 400 years, Quebecers have had to fight hard to preserve and defend their distinct language, culture, and identity. When we look at the history of their beautiful province, we can better understand why language and culture are still very much at the center of countless debates surrounding the recognition of Quebec's uniqueness.

Quebec's history is deeply marked by colonialism. From its first settlement in 1534 by Jacques Cartier to the Battle of the Plains of Abraham in 1759, where the British took control of the colony known as New France, it's obvious that the constant tug of war between French and English has deeply influenced Quebec's culture.

A vintage engraving displaying the city of Quebec.

Eventually, the British tried to appease tensions with the French population by recognizing their law system (civil law), as well as their language and culture. However, centuries later, Quebecers still largely felt marginalized by the Canadian Federation due to a constant fear of assimilation. This is why Quebec held referendums twice to decide whether it would become a sovereign nation. 🗳️ Once in 1980, when the population rejected sovereignty by 59.56%, and once in 1995, when the motion nearly passed but was rejected by 50.58 %. Still today, Quebecers are divided on the issue, and sovereignty remains a very hot topic.

After centuries of colonialism, Quebecers still felt largely marginalized by the Canadian Federation due to a constant fear of assimilation. This led to two soreveignity referendums and several laws acknowledging Quebec as a nation within the country

As a result of these debates, the Canadian Parliament passed a symbolic motion recognizing Quebec as a "nation within a united Canada" in 2006. This acknowledgment aimed to recognize Quebec's distinct identity, culture, and French-speaking population within the framework of Canada's federal system.

More recently, on June 1, 2022,  the Parliament of Quebec passed An Act respecting French, the official and common language of Quebec, which introduced two new sections into the Constitution Act of 1867:

  1. Quebecers form a nation.
  2. French is the only official language of Quebec and the common language of the Quebec nation.
Quebecers marching during the Fête Nationale du Québec. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Today, Quebec still has a complex relationship with the Canadian government and other provinces because it oscillates between demands for more autonomy and participation in federal politics. The province has its own legal system, education system, and cultural institutions, reinforcing its unique identity within Canada.

Despite occasional political tensions, Quebec remains an integral part of Canada, contributing to its diverse cultural tapestry while asserting its distinctiveness. Political debates surrounding Quebec's place within Canada continue to shape the nation's identity and governance.

🏒 How Quebecers differ from Canadians 🔗

In the famous words of journalist, essayist, novelist, and media personality Denise Bombardier, "Language is how we exist."

Generally, Quebecers value authenticity, joy, and living life to the fullest. They tend to keep their guard up when it comes to outsiders but will more easily trust companies that value quality localization, making them feel like a product or service is tailored with them in mind. The more a company respects and enriches local culture, the more it will become an integral part of people's lives.

The three cultural POVs among Quebecers 🔗

Most Quebecers come from French culture, live in an English society, and have an American lifestyle. Their uniqueness is the fusion of these three cultures.

  • 🇫🇷 ⅓ of Quebecers identify with France.
  • 🇺🇸 ⅓ of Quebecers identify with the USA.
  • 🇨🇦 ⅓ of Quebecers identify with English Canada.

71% of Quebecers' attitudes and behaviors are identical to those of the rest of Canada. Understanding the remaining 29% means understanding the difference. For instance, Quebecers:

  • 🍝 Like to cook their own food. Food isn't a commodity in Quebec; it's part of the lifestyle.
  • 🍫 Are more spontaneous shoppers and enjoy spending money on special treats.
  • 🛍️ Prefer specialty shops to department stores and use more fliers and savings coupons.
  • 🛟 Save less for retirement but spend more on life insurance.

These are just a few of the differences between Quebecers and Canadians, and it's worth exploring what differences exist within your own niche if you want your localization to be successful.

Just remember that simply translating your content will not get you very far in Quebec: you have to participate in local culture. So use local talent, hire local agencies or consultants, and start understanding how you can use that 29% to help you achieve your goals.

71% of Quebecers' attitudes and behaviors are identical to the rest of Canada. Understanding the remaining 29% means understanding the difference

Most of all, try to avoid concepts and words that make it sound like Quebecers are the same as Canadians; you could get a lot of backlash. We'll explore this further below.

🔎 How is Quebec French different? 🔗

Although ‌French speakers are scattered from coast to coast in Canada, the province of Quebec remains the epicenter of French Canadian culture. In fact, Quebec has a population of over 8 million people, 84.1 % of whom speak French and 14.9% of whom speak English.

The French language spoken in Quebec, often called Quebec French or Quebecois, has a fascinating history and distinct characteristics that set it apart from European French.

Source: Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages of Canada.

Throughout history, Quebec French has grown to become the most important manifestation of collective identity. Anyone who's ever heard a Quebecer talking will recognize that the main differences are pronunciation, syntax, and vocabulary. There are many reasons why the Quebecois accent sounds so different from Standard French: colonial and religious influences, geographic isolation, indigenous languages, and, of course, the fact that the province is surrounded by English speakers on all sides.

The most common explanation as to why the French spoken in Quebec is different is that it has evolved differently over the course of centuries since colonization.

Different accents 🔗

Quebec has 17 different regions, and dialects and accents vary from one place to another. For instance, there are key accents from Montreal, Quebec City, Beauce, Gaspésie, and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. A local ear can easily quickly tell the difference. 🎶 The Quebec accent is often described as more "chantant" (sing-songy) and more nasal than Parisian French.

Different registers 🔗

Quebec French is colorful and speakers tend to adjust their register based on who they are talking to. Words tend to blend together when you are speaking to someone you are very close to, whereas there's a better enunciation if you are in a professional setting. It's a language that morphs based on context, whereas Standard French tends to be more rigid.

For instance, if you speak to your friend about your car being at the shop, you may say, "Mon char est au garage". However, if you explain to your dentist that you missed your appointment because your car is in the shop, you'd say, "Mon auto est au garage," or even with a more polite word, "Ma voiture est au garage." Same meaning, different contexts – different words based on audience.

This is why it's extremely important to understand your audience when localizing for Quebecers.


Different vocabulary 🔗

As far as vocabulary goes, Quebecois French has retained a lot of archaisms from colonial French, and here are some examples:





pomme de terre




toque, beanie

blé d’Inde



You might even be surprised to hear that some Quebecois words are also used in Belgium. 🍽️ For example, the three meals of the day in Quebec and Belgium are déjeuner (breakfast), dîner (lunch), and souper (dinner), while in France it's petit déjeuner (breakfast), déjeuner (lunch), and dîner (dinner).

Some of the words also come from Indigenous roots, such as 🦟 maringouin (🇫🇷 moustique / 🇨🇦 mosquito). And let's not forget that because English surrounds the province on all sides, there are some influences from that language as well.

Neologisms 🔗

People like to say that Quebec French is stuck in the 1700s, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The fact is that even though Quebec French still contains a lot of the words that were used by settlers and indigenous people, it has never stopped evolving.

This is because in 1977, the Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF) was made responsible for enforcing the Charter of the French language. The OQLF offers linguistic services and contributes to francization (French expansion) by developing tools and terminologies for an ever-changing language. While Standard French has no qualms about using an English word with a French accent to describe a new concept, the OQLF understands that in order not to be swallowed by English, there's an obligation to create new words.


As language evolves, the OQLF does not let new concepts go without creating a new French equivalent term. Many new words are created using a combination of words to convey a new idea. We call those 🧳 "mot-valise" (portmanteau word), where two words are mixed to form a new concept.

Here are a few examples from the world of tech:



Standard French

Email (noun)

Courriel (noun)

Using the FR words courrier (mail) and électronique (electronic)


Chat (verb and noun)

Clavarder (verb)

Clavardage (noun)

Using the FR words clavier (keyboard) and bavarder (to chitchat)


Spam (noun)

Pourriel (noun)

Using the FR words poubelle (garbage) and courriel (email)


As new technologies emerge and new terms are created, the OQLF keeps on creating new French words with their corresponding meanings to avoid diluting the language with more English or foreign words in an effort to keep French alive.

Sometimes, adoption of these terms can take a few years, but this is why the OQLF has created a multitude of resources for French speakers, like Vitrine Linguistique, a comprehensive website dedicated to the proper use of Quebec French and an essential resource for anyone using the language.

🦫 Tips for good French Canadian localization 🔗

The best tip you'll ever receive when localizing into French Canadian is to know your audience inside and out. This is true for most localization efforts, but Quebecers tend to be very sensitive to foreign companies wanting their money and are not easily won over.

Trust is a critical factor in this equation, and winning this market requires a lot of upfront effort. However, once you prove that you care about this audience and their local culture, the rewards can be huge… and you'll have gained their loyalty forever.


Unfortunately, language alone is not enough to win over the Quebec audience. You need to find a way to include cultural references in your localization and consider the history and political sensitivities.

Here are some tips for quality French localization if you're expanding to Quebec:

1. Every touchpoint needs to be localized 🔗

Identify every customer touchpoint. Everything from onboarding to offboarding will require translation or localization (e.g., products, emails, legal agreements, chats, notifications, receipts, storefront signage, indoor signage, billboards, physical product descriptions, ingredients, etc.). In addition, remember that if you have local employees, translation will be required if you have a team of over 25 people.

2. Know your audience 🔗

Understanding who you are talking to is essential to identify your tone of voice. As we've already explored, Quebec French is highly dependent on the audience. Register and tone are very important, as vocabulary and expressions will vary based on the target audience.

3. Avoid political words 🔗

Due to the local sensitivities surrounding the political landscape and history, French Canadian localizers prefer to steer clear of words like "Canada" or "Canadian." Instead, we use terms like "national" (national), "coast to coast" (d'un océan à l'autre), or "country" (pays) when adapting the content.


4. Use local references and accents 🔗

For videos and audio content, make sure to use local voice or acting talent. It will make a much bigger impact. 🎯 In addition, consider using local celebrities if you run a large advertising campaign.

French Canadian localizers prefer to steer clear of the terms "Canada" or "Canadian" due to political and historical sensitivies. Terms like "national" or "pays" are a better fit in this context. Local talent is also highly valued in localized video and audio content

5. Add a local flavor 🔗

Similarly, consider working with local advertising or translation agencies to create local advertising campaigns. Design your marketing specifically for Quebec: businesses with a plan catering to Quebecers tend to have more success than those who essentially copypaste their strategies from another location.

6. Localize and adapt your brand name 🔗

Legally, if your brand has an English name, you'll be asked to add a descriptor to help people understand what the company is about. However, it's always better to completely adapt your brand name. For instance, Canadian brand Shoppers Drug Mart was localized to Pharmaprix in Quebec, while Canadian office supply company Staples was localized to Bureau en gros.


The companies whose localization efforts have succeeded all have this in common: they understand that putting in extra effort to produce content relevant to Quebecers is not only nice but absolutely essential.

Here are some questions you should answer while you develop your French localization strategy for Canada, especially for the Quebec market:

  • 🔍 Will you focus on localizing for the entire French Canadian market or solely for certain regions?
  • ✍️ Can you afford to produce different content for French for the Rest of Canada (ROC) and French for Quebec? If so, you'll get much better results.
  • 🎙️ When considering Quebec localization, is it feasible for you to use the talents of a local artist for any voice or graphic materials?

🏞️ Ordering professional French Canadian translations 🔗

The best way to ensure the success of your localization to Quebec French is to hire local professionals who understand the culture and subtleties of this rich language. Once you've figured out who your audience is, you'll be able to decide whether French is the only other language you'd like to localize to. Remember that Canada includes a variety of other locales, as we've seen earlier.

Aside from French, you may want to consider the following pairs depending on your target audience:

Of course, the rates for translation will vary based on the type of content you need to have translated. 💸 The more technical your content is, the higher the cost of your translation will be. Generally, the rate will vary from 0.15 CAD to roughly 0.28 CAD per word for an agency translation from English to French. However, some freelancers may offer lower rates, starting from around 0.12 CAD per word. When choosing the right language service provider, consider the quality of the end product. Agencies with a higher rate may have more eyes looking over your translation (revisers and proofreaders), which means better quality.

As we've seen, delivering the right language flavor is important. That's why you can also reach out to local language agencies to adapt your content from French (Standard) to French (Canada). Or you can contact us so we can connect you with the best native professionals from the region.


🚩 French Canadian l10n with Localazy 🔗

If you plan to operate in any capacity in the province of Quebec, you have the legal obligation to localize. We'll explore the legal and business specifics of operating in the area in an upcoming article. Still, the first step to success is understanding that your product or service will have the greatest impact if it's adapted to the local language.

The biggest win to investing in Quebec localization is brand loyalty. Pepsi, Walmart, and even McDonald's have all demonstrated the impact of localization and are three excellent examples of well-recognized, well-respected brands that operate in Quebec.

Understanding the cultural differences and history will make your brand stand out. Although complying with all the legalities surrounding language in Quebec may seem daunting, it can reap big rewards in the form of customer loyalty. If you're ready to tackle this challenge, at Localazy we are ready to assist you with a hassle-free TMS with time-saving automation features and professional translations done by native Quebecers. Check out our ultimate guide to learn more and kick off your French Canadian localization strategy today!‌‌‌‌