Creating English Content for Canada

Creating English content for Canada

English content created from translation

Our clients use our translation services regularly to produce English-language content or a document translated into English. Translating content into English is not the same across the world, there are over 15 dialects of English. Even in places where English is the dominant language, like Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, the language is different in important ways that could affect a translation if not addressed by professional translators that are specialized in creating content for the particular country.

Much of Canadian English is similar to English for the US and UK, we can all understand each other and in regular, everyday communication any differences will be forgiven. But if you want to show that your content was created for Canada and gain the trust of a specific English-speaking audience in any formal correspondence or marketing, it is best to select a translation company that has the native resources to produce a localized and flawless English Translation for Canada. A Canadian English translator should be used, and there are resources to consult that provide guidance on the style.

The Translation Bureau, a federal institution that supports our government to communicate in both official languages, has terminology and linguistic data banks and style guides for French and English content.

To make the best Canadian English translations, we use that official style guide put forth by the Canadian Translation Bureau. This guide offers extensive details for the proper use of Canadian English. In the style guide there are directions for items like hyphenations, bibliography, capitalization and much more.

The vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation in Canadian English may be a bit different from what is used in other English-speaking countries and these small differences stand out to a native speaker. A Canadian translation company will make sure your content for Canada is written in Canadian English.

Below are some differences between Canadian and American English that can affect translation and we can localize to the Canadian market or even specific areas of Canada.

The Growth of Languages

Etymology, the study of linguistic evolution, is a fascinating subject. Time, immigration, colonization, trade, geography, politics, and more all influence how a language develops. Languages also borrow from each other, and Canadian English is a perfect example. Canadian English borrows a portion of its spelling from British and French words, like “theatre,” “centre,” and “marvellous.” Also, Canada has two official languages, English and French, and the French has had an influence on some Canadian vocabulary and terms.

Everyday, Common Language

English content for Canada has to be localized, which is why it’s best to write your original copy with plain language to make it understandable for as many people as possible. It can then be localized by the professionals to fit local readers. Some good examples of local vocabulary and differences from our neighbor to the south’s English:

  • “Hooded jacket” is a suitable expression to use as some might call it a “hoodie” and others might call it a “bunnyhug.”
  • A countryside vacation home can be localized to be called a “camp” in Northern Ontario and a “cabin” for western Canada.
  • Expressions for rental lodging are particularly tricky. A one-room apartment with attached bathroom is called a “studio” in the U.S. but a “bachelor” in most of Canada. Residents of Prince Edward Island would call such an apartment a “loft,” and Quebecois might call it a “one-and-a-half.”
  • Whole wheat bread in the US is brown bread in Canada.
  • Soda is soda water here in Canada. If you want a coke with that, you will need to ask for pop or a soft drink depending where you are in Canada.
  • A napkin in the US is a serviette in Canada, which is a link to our French bilingualism.
  • What we call a dressing gown or house coat is called a bathrobe in the US.
  • We run the tap; in the US they turn on the faucet.

Numbers and Measurements

Numbers and measurements in Canadian English have to be carefully localized for region and industry. In general, Canada uses the metric system. However, there are times in which the imperial measurement system turns up.

  • In cookbooks, pounds and ounces are often written alongside grams and kilograms, and cooking temperatures may be presented as Fahrenheit or Celsius.
  • Distance is measured kilometers, except sometimes in the Prairie provinces where distance on roads is measured in miles. But the spelling is kilometre.
  • Notations for dates derive from both the British, US and French styles. Dates can be written MM/DD/YYYY (British and US) or DD/MM/YYYY (French), but the Canadian government specifies YYYY/MM/DD. This is why a style guide is so important for a company to have before having their content translated.
  • The Canadian government uses the 24-hour clock as they use in Europe, but in daily life most residents also use the 12-hour clock as it is done in the US.

Geographical Names

As we are a bilingual country using both English and French, this can affect the names of cities and other geographical features.

  • Most geographical features have only one official name, however, there are 81 names that have both English and French names.
  • Some provinces, Manitoba, Ontario and New Brunswick also use “alternate names” for geographical features in their province. When determining which is best to use, the style guide and knowledge of local usage is a must.
  • Most cities and towns have one official name, but there are a few that have both English and French. Determining which is best to use when translating for Canadian English has to be the work and choice of the professional translator depending on the particular content.

Bringing Your Message in English to Canada

English-speaking Canadians are a large and powerful market, and a quality Canadian English translation can bring a high return on investment. People prefer to work, study, shop, in general, to read in their own native language. The small differences between the dialects may seem inconsequential; it’s still English after all, isn’t it? But making the effort to localize your content will make people more comfortable and willing to work with you, it will read as it was created for them from the get-go. These small differences can make a powerful impression. A professional language service company in Canada like JR Language can help you produce and refine your message for the Canadian audience.