QUEBEC-L ArchivesArchiver > QUEBEC > 2003-01 > 1042471157
From: "G.C \(Gerry\) Germain" <>
Subject: RE: [QUEBEC] Meanings of French words
Date: Mon, 13 Jan 2003 11:49:17 -0330
St. John's (Newfoundland) is not a translation of St. Jean; the Irish
(and others) also worship St. John the Baptist.
My ancestor was of German origin and we became Germain.
Gerry aka Gérard
In St. John's, Newfoundland aka Terre Neuve aka Terra Nova!
Sent: January 13, 2003 11:38
Subject: Re: [QUEBEC] Meanings of French words
In a message dated 1/13/03 03:43:59 AM Eastern Standard Time,
<< Monty - It is true that family names and place names
should never be translated - like calling Trois Rivieres
Three Rivers - or calling St. Jean St. John's - BUT
regardless of whether we think it is right or wrong
the fact is that many French Canadian family names
were translated to English or otherwise altered when
these families moved to America.
Lapierre became Stone
Boulanger became Baker
Lefebvre became Bean
Lévesque became Bishop >>
I understand that "many French Canadian family names were translated to
English or otherwise altered" when these families moved to the United
(By the way, they were already "in America".) For example, Jeanne
book "The Descendants of Jean Monty 1693 (?) - 1755" lists
Monty/Monte/Montee/Montie as variations on the family name. In fact,
alterations of spelling took place during the 17th and 18th centuries.
became known by their province of origin: Picard, Normand, Breton,
Poitevin, La Rochelle, Saintonge, Bordelais, etc. Others, especially
several members of one family lived in the same vicinity, were given
according to their occupation: Boulanger, Charretier, Lefebvre,
Taillefer, etc. (They would be Baker, Carter (or Wainwright), Smith,
Fur-trader, Smith again, in English). In some parts of France, a custom
similar to the Spanish and Portuguese custom prevailed, and was carried
this continent. Thus, the descendants of Louis Couillard and Geneviève
Després became known as Couillard dit Després.
The situation got more complex in the early 19th century, because most
did not know how to write, or even to sign their names. And, as we are
reminded, that the cleric who was registering baptism, marriage, or
or the notary enacting a prenuptial contract or a land sale was required
have the parties and witnesses sign the act, and ask the others present
declare their inability to sign, after the act was read, according to
This introduced many alterations in family names. Boulanger became
Saintonge, the name of a province in France whose early inhabitants were
known as Santons, became St Onge, as if "Onge" were a saint's name -
isn't. Poitevin became Potvin. In some families, several different
were used, all at the same time, such as Caillé dit Biscornet dit
or Lamagdeleine dit Ladouceur (sometimes dit Vivier). With spelling
variations, Caillé often became Cayer, or Cayé (even Cahier), because
these spellings represent the same pronunciation.
Then Québecois families start moving south to the United States, where
names get translated. Lapierre and Laroque become Stone. So, for that
matter, does Saintonge, (simply remove the "G" from Stonge). Lefebvre,
already simplified to Lefave, becomes Bean, because everyone knows that
fève is a bean (fava, in Latin) and no one remembers that le febvre was
the word for blacksmith (faber, in Latin).
My complaint, Lisa, is not with the fact that names get translated and
spellings get altered. My complaint is that machine translators can't
distinguish between common nouns and proper names, such as family names
place names. Jacques Leborgne is not "one eyed jack", Hilaire Provençal
not "happy hick", even though that may be how the words that make up
names translate on "poisson babillard". "Pointe à la Chevelure" is not
of the hairdo" but Crown Point (once known as Fort Saint Fréderic).
that matter, Carillon is not Ticonderoga, but that's a different story.)
understand the reason that PRDH adopts a "standard name" for every
and appreciate that all of us need to adopt some reasonable system to
our own family files in order. Still, it is somewhat cumbersome to bind
all together with hyphens: Guyon-Dion-Dionne-Yon.
All genealogical and geographical references come from my own family
And, I have vented long enough!
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|RE: [QUEBEC] Meanings of French words by "G.C \(Gerry\) Germain" <>|