Government of Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Anne… of Green Gables

Mélanie Morin
Translation Services
Government of Prince Edward Island

2010-04-26

Prince Edward Island, a small province cradled by the waves of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, is famous for its potatoes, its sandy beaches and its little red-haired orphan with the fertile imagination. Indeed, Anne Shirley, the heroine of Lucy Maud Montgomery's novels, is a character known around the world. Each year, hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to Prince Edward Island to see the spot that inspired the novel Anne of Green Gables.

In fact, more tourists visit Green Gables than any other house in Canada. And that's hardly surprising, given the worldwide popularity of the novel, the musical, the movies and cartoons about Anne. In 2008, the 100th anniversary of the novel's publication spawned a flood of news reports and articles on Anne and her famous house.

In French, this flurry of news items contributed to the spread of all sorts of inaccuracies regarding the novel, even in reputable print and online sources. One point needs to be clarified: the title Anne of Green Gables can never be correctly translated as Anne aux pignons verts. This French phrase, unfortunately, means "Anne with the green gables." Anne is a person with red hair—but NO gables. Only the house has gables.

Here are the terms recommended for references to Anne in French:

  • The book and the film share the title Anne… la maison aux pignons verts.
  • The character herself is Anne Shirley or "Anne de la maison aux pignons verts."
  • The musical is entitled Anne of Green Gables – The Musical™. This title has no official equivalent in French.
  • The actual house, located in Prince Edward Island National Park at Cavendish, is called "la maison Green Gables" (according to Parks Canada).

Let's leave the flights of poetic fancy to Anne and take care not to give her a name that is, after all, rather ridiculous!