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In 1969, New Brunswick became the first province in Canada to constitutionally make both English and French their official languages. When writing to New Brunswick for information they should have someone available who speaks either English or French or both. Some 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. 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 New Brunswick Names, Personal. You may find other languages in the records of New Brunswick. These include English and Latin. Latin is sometimes found in very early Roman Catholic parish registers. English was often used in the eastern townships.
Language Aids:[edit | edit source]
The Family History Library has published a French Word List (34060) and a Latin Word List (34077). The lists contain words often found in genealogical research with their English translation.
The following books and English-French dictionaries can also help you in your research. You can find these and similar materials at many research libraries:
French Records Extraction. Salt Lake City, Utah, USA: Genealogical Society of Utah, [198-?]. (Family History Library book 944 D27f; fiche 6068523.) Text in English. Shows examples of French civil records, parish records, and handwriting. Has list of personal names and translations of common words used in the records.
New Cassell's French Dictionary: French-English, English-French. New York, NY, USA: Funk & Wagnalls, 1970. (Family History Library book 443.21 C272.)
Boudreau, Dennis M. Beginning Franco-American Genealogy. Pawtucket, Rhode Island, USA: American-French Genealogical Society, 1986. (Family History Library book 973 D27bo.)
Additional language aids are listed in the Locality Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under FRANCE - LANGUAGE AND LANGUAGES or in the Subject Search under FRENCH LANGUAGE - DICTIONARIES.
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. These are some of the most common words and abbreviations in French Canadian church records, vital records, and genealogical collections:
French-English Translation[edit | edit source]
à in, at, to
au New Brunswick in, to the province of New Brunswick
b baptized, christened
baptême baptism, christening
baptisé baptized, christened (masculine)
baptisée baptized, christened (feminine)
de of, from
du New Brunswick of the province of New Brunswick
défunt deceased (masculine)
défunte deceased (feminine)
feu(e) late, deceased
illégitime illegitimate inconnu(e) unknown, surname not known
né born (masculine)
née born (feminine)
Saint Saint (masculine)
Sainte Saint (feminine)
St Saint (masculine)
Ste Saint (feminine)