Vol. 60 No. 3 (2012)
Research Article

On the Translation of French-Canadian Family Names in English

Published 2012-09-01


  • nicknames,
  • adolescents,
  • Australian English,
  • naming practices,
  • language attitudes



Many French-Canadian family names were altered when their bearers emigrated to various English-speaking areas of North America. As in the case of all the other foreign names that were anglicized for various social and linguistic reasons, different types of adaptive mechanisms were at work. The most common were purely orthographical in nature, ranging from the simple elimination of diacritics to the replacement of unfamiliar vowel and consonant sounds. Other surname modifications went beyond spelling changes and were dependent upon some notion of structural or semantic equivalence. Some were based solely on the fact that a French name sounded vaguely similar to an existing English surname while other non-orthographical substitutions involved translation. The object of this study will be to examine how this process affected French-Canadian surnames wherein this adaptive mechanism was particularly prevalent and diverse.


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