Quebec Languages

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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]

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:

French English
à in, at, to
acte record
an year
année year
à Québec in, to the city of Québec
au Québec in, to the province of Québec
b baptized, christened
baptême baptism, christening
baptisé baptized, christened (masculine)
baptisée baptized, christened (feminine)
de of, from
de Québec of the city of Québec
du Québec of the province of Québec
def. deceased
deft deceased
défunt deceased (masculine)
défunte deceased (feminine)
enfant child
épouse wife
époux husband
et and
femme wife
feu(e) late, deceased
fille daughter
fils son
illégitime illegitimate
inconnu(e) unknown, surname not known
m marriage
mari husband
mariage marriage
marié husband
marieé wife
mois month
n born
naissance birth
born (masculine)
née born (feminine)
père father
répertoire index
s burial
Saint Saint (masculine)
Sainte Saint (feminine)
sépulture burial
St Saint (masculine)
Ste Saint (feminine)
ve widow
veuf widower
veuve widow
vf widower
vve widow