Part IV: Quebec Government, Politics, History, and Cultural References

We’ve sifted through our thousands of past tweets to compile this Essential Guide to Quebec for Translators. Part IV is about Quebec government, politics, history, and cultural references. We hope you’ll find it instructive.

The Government of Quebec

1. The names of Quebec government institutions (ministries, agencies, directorates, corporations) have no official English versions. Best to keep in French.

2. If a text uses a shortened name to refer to a Quebec government organization (ministère/conseil/commission/etc.) you may translate the shortened name.

3. In diplomatic circles, the Quebec government translates its organization names as a courtesy. This is an exception. Keep in French otherwise.

4. Quebec government says to keep Quebec government names in French, but you can break this rule for a private sector client if doing so aids comprehension.

5. French universities in Quebec are government run, so their names should stay in French in government texts: Université Laval, not Laval University.

6. Know your context: In Quebec, délégation générale = Québec Government Office (embassy-like offices located abroad).

7. Société d’État = “Crown corporation” across Canada, except in Quebec where people prefer to avoid crowns and say “government corporation.”

Quebec Politics and Parliament

8. Articles of Quebec legislation are called “sections” in English, except for codes and charters, which remain “articles” in English.

9. Bear in mind that a commission parlementaire in Quebec is a parliamentary COMMITTEE in English, not a commission.

10. Don’t translate Quebec government ministry names, but for actual ministers’ titles consult this list.

11. The historic Paix des braves between Quebec and the First Nations/Inuit is the “Peace of the Brave” in English (sing.), not “Peace of the Braves.”

12. Say “regulation” (singular) in relation to acts of the Quebec parliament and “regulations” (pl) for acts of the Canadian federal parliament.

13. Parc national du Québec: Provincial parks in other provinces, but “national” is OK in Quebec—Canada’s Parliament has declared Quebec a “nation.”

The History of Quebec

14. Quebec City was not a “city” at the time of New France but a mere settlement, so for historical texts just write “Québec” (with an accent).

Cultural References in Quebec

15. Montreal Canadiens’ nicknames: In English “the Habs,” but in French La Sainte Flanelle, Le Tricolore, Les Glorieux or Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge.

16. Canada and canadien are often used in Quebec to mean “out-of-province/the other provinces/rest of Canada.” At one point in the past, this was a political statement. Today it is just a linguistic phenomenon common to all political allegiances.

17. When translating French>English, it’s often best to switch Quebec to Canada: une entreprise québécoise = a Canadian business.

18. Why is “Canada” often a good translation of “Québec”? Because in marketing, English audiences rarely have an emotional connection with Quebec.

19. The notion of “Quebec” or “France” doesn’t pull on the heartstrings as much in English. Consider dropping or deemphasizing it in marketing texts.