Canada travel guide




Canada Travel Guide

Canada Languages

Canada has two official languages - English and French - but there are numerous native tongues as well. Tensions between the two main groups play a prominent part in the politics of Canada, but the native languages are more or less ignored except in the country's most remote areas, particularly in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, where Inuktitut, the language of the Inuit, is spoken widely.

In a brief glossary such as this there is no space to get to grips with the complexities of aboriginal languages, and very few travellers would have any need of them anyway - most natives (including those in Québec) have a good knowledge of English, especially if they deal with tourists in any capacity. If you plan to be spending much time in French-speaking Canada, consider investing in the Rough Guide to French (Penguin), a pocket-guide in a handy A-Z format.

The Québécois are extremely sympathetic when visiting English-speakers make the effort to speak French - and most are much more forthcoming with their knowledge of English when talking to a Briton or American than to a Canadian. Similarly easy-going is the attitude towards the formal vous (you), which is used less often in Québec - you may even be corrected when saying S'il vous plaît with the suggestion that S'il te plaît is more appropriate. Another popular phrase that you are likely to come across is pas de tout ("not at all") which in Québec is pronounced pan toot , completely different from the French pa du too . The same goes for c'est tout? ("is that all?" pronounced say toot ), which you're likely to hear when buying something in a shop.

Verbs and pronunciation

About the verbs, the best way to know the differences between English and French is using a professional verb conjugation tool. There are many useful tools to conjugate all verb tenses. With pronunciation there's little point trying to mimic the local dialect - generally, just stick to the classic French rules. Consonants at the ends of words are usually silent and at other times are much as in English, except that ch is always sh, ç is s, h is silent, th is the same as t, ll is like the y in yes and r is growled.

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