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Most materials used in French Canadian research are written in French. However, you do not need to speak or read French to do research. You just need to know some key numbers, words, and phrases to understand the French Canadian records.
You may find other languages in the records of Québec. These include English and Latin. Latin is sometimes found in very early Roman Catholic parish registers. English was often used in the eastern townships and the Ottawa River valley. In 1850 about a quarter of the population of Québec spoke English.
French grammar and customs may affect the way names appear in genealogical records. For example, the names of your ancestor may vary from record to record in French. For help in understanding name variations, see Quebec Personal Names.
Language Aids[edit | edit source]
- French Genealogical Word List
- Latin Word List
- French Letter-Writing Guide
- French Handwriting
- Reading French Handwritten Records
- Lexilogos Online French Dictionary
Key Words[edit | edit source]
With a knowledge of the basic words, most English-speaking persons can read many of the French Canadian records used for genealogical research. It is important to note how the preposition “à” is used. Sometimes it is used in place of “de” to show possession or in the place of “ce.” For example, a document may say “à matin” for this morning instead of “ce matin.”
These are some of the most common words and abbreviations in French Canadian church records, vital records, and genealogical collections:
|à||in, at, to|
|à Québec||in, to the city of Québec|
|au Québec||in, to the province of Québec|
|baptisé||baptized, christened (masculine)|
|baptisée||baptized, christened (feminine)|
|de Québec||of the city of Québec|
|du Québec||of the province of Québec|
|inconnu(e)||unknown, surname not known|