O Canada – Land of Opportunities

Anyone who is considering expanding their current operations, will at some point, think about doing business in Canada. There are two reasons for this, the first being that Canada is a friendly country, and Canadiens speak English. However, unknown to many people outside of North America, Canadiens speak French too, and in some parts of Canada, English is their second language. That’s why you’ll want to familiarize yourself with Canada’s language laws before getting in. 

Canada is Bilingual 

Few countries are as bilingual as Canada, and with different legislation across the provinces, things can get pretty complicated. That said, if you happen to be interested in doing business in a province like Quebec, it is essential to get a translation service on board.  

Language Laws 

Businesses need to consider the following from a linguistic perspective: 

  • Manitoba and New Brunswick are bilingual, with both English and French being official languages. 
  • Quebec is primarily French 
  • Ontario has a language policy where part of the province speaks English, and others are bilingual. 
  • Labrador, British Columbia, and Newfoundland are English only provinces. 
  • Prince Edward Island, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Nova Scotia are all officially English speaking but allow French as well as other languages. 

The best way for businesses to avoid being fined or penalized is to adhere to the language laws of every region. Our recommendation for companies expanding into Canada is to make sure that everything from sales, to marketing material, are in both French and English across the country. 

Packaging and Marketing 

Businesses that launch a product or service in a French-speaking province, as mentioned above, should have all relevant materials in both French and English. However, there are a couple of exceptions: 

  • Test products 
  • Products where the labeling is essential for the buyer to use the product properly, i.e., games, greeting cards, etc. 
  • Specialty products. 
  • Prepackaged products that are sold in locations where French or English is the primary language of less than 10% of the people living there. 

What you Need to Know about Canadian French Vs. European French?

Similar to how American English is different from English in the UK, Canadian French is also different from its European counterpart. However, the difference isn’t significant, with subtle nuances in pronunciation and vocabulary, but it is different enough to either appeal to or alienate your buyers/clients. That’s why when you hire a translation company, make sure that they know Canadian French. 

Success in Canada Will Hinge on Your Linguistic Approach 

Many businesses successfully expand into the Canadian market, knowing full well the country’s linguistic variations. The idea is to make sure that your business adapts to its surroundings, which is why you might need more than just translation and instead localization. 

Localization is especially crucial for businesses that may be expanding from Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa. The companies will then need to make sure that everything about them is in accordance with Canadian customs, language preferences, and social norms.