New Brunswick Language and Languages

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Language and Languages

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:

The Family History Library has published a French Word List and a Latin Word List. 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 MANUAL: 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:

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

à in, at, to
acte record
an year
année year
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
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
né 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

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