European, African and Canadian French - Identiques ou différents? The same or different?
Standard French (also referred to as Metropolitan French – spoken in Paris) is the preferred or official language of many international organizations and businesses. The USA, for example, exports to more countries having French as a national language than to any other foreign language countries.
However, with over 200 million speakers understanding the differences between the varieties could be crucial for the localization of your product.
African French is the common term used for the varieties of French spoken by an estimated 115 million people in 15 francophone-countries in Africa (with the DRC having 24 million speakers alone). The French spoken is a bit more old-fashioned than standard French and has many words which were coined by joining local languages with French words. There is a steady demand for translations into African French from a wide variety of clients, particularly those involved in engineering, food manufacture and distribution as well as pharmaceutical, IT and telecommunications. Abdou Diouf, Francophone secretary general said “Africa is the future of Francophonie. According to our studies there will be 715 million francophones worldwide by 2050 and 85% of them will be in Africa.”
The official languages of Canada are English and French, with only Quebec being officially unilingual (Quebec French only. The major difference between Canadian French and standard French is that Canadian French is more informal, for instance when it comes to grammar and idioms, whereas Metropolitan French is more formal. Furthermore, since Canada borders the USA it has also caused the adoption of English words into Canadian French, including the transliterations that usually go with that.
There is a strong and important presence of French in Switzerland (Swiss French is used in area known as Romandie), Belgium (Belgian French spoken mainly in the Walloo Region) and Monaco (where French is the official language). The major differences for the different French varieties are lexical in Europe.