Imagine you are looking online for financial advice and you come across information about unit trusts and current accounts. Do you keep reading? If you are in North America, you might not be aware that these terms are better known in your country as “mutual funds” and “checking accounts”.
The same situation often occurs in the case of the French spoken in Canada versus European (or International) French. Although it might initially seem cost effective to only use one type of French for Francophone users worldwide, using Canadian French for your banking, financial and investment information is actually a must to establish credibility with consumers in the Québec market.
Why localize for the Québec market?
Localizing your financial products and services for the Québec market is crucial for at least four reasons:
1) Localizing makes your information more likely to be trusted
Although we might like to think of ourselves as logical beings that evaluate all information objectively, the truth is that most internet users decide within a few seconds of accessing a website whether or not they will trust it . With only seconds to convince a user to read on, unfamiliar words are likely to make your information seem irrelevant and be quickly dismissed.
2) Canadian French is different from International French
Just as North American English is different from UK English, Canadian French uses its own terms for a large number of ideas, including concepts related to the financial and banking sectors. Even though French Canadian speakers are familiar with International French because of their exposure to European media, they do not typically use it in daily life.
3) Quebecers favour local businesses
As a result of being somewhat isolated as French speakers in North America, Quebecers have developed a strong spirit of cooperation and naturally tend to favour Québec-based businesses . In order to compete in the Québec market and connect with its consumers, it is vital for your online presence to have a local feel.
To succeed in the Québec market, your online information must have a local feel.
4) It shows you know your business
Financial translation is not only a matter of literal accuracy; it should also take into account the economic context and peculiarities of each market. Even if an English banking term is translated accurately into French, it might still be ineffective not only because it might not be familiar to local consumers, but also because the financial product itself is specific to a certain market.
For example, an International French translator might translate “Debit Card” into “carte bancaire”, since this term is used in Europe for a single bank card that acts both as a debit and a credit card. However, debit and credit cards are separate products in the Canadian market and need to be referred to individually.
Include Cultural and Linguistic Adaptation in your Translation Projects
Sometimes overlooked in the translation process, cultural and linguistic adaptation are a key component of generating credibility, especially in non-English markets such as Québec. Give yourself a competitive edge to succeed by offering your products and services in a way that connects with your potential clients!
Examples of International French and Canadian French Banking Terms
|North American English||International French *||Canadian French|
|Checking Account||Compte courant||Compte chèque|
|Joint Account||Compte joint||Compte conjoint|
|Debit Card/ Credit Card||Carte bancaire||Carte de débit/ Carte de crédit|
|Pre-authorized Payment||Débit direct, TIP (Titre Interbancaire de Paiement),
|Paiement/ Débit pré-autorisé
|Direct Deposit||Virement permanent||Dépôt direct|
|Mutual Funds||Fonds communs||Fonds mutuels/ Fonds d’investissement|
* These terms refer to French banking products that are similar to but may be slightly different from Canadian banking products
 Credibility and trust of information in online environments: The use of cognitive heuristics, Journal of Pragmatics, 2013
 Cracking the Quebec Code: The 7 keys to understanding Quebecers, 2016