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Language Navigator simultaneously searches all of the writing tools, quizzes and blog posts on the Language Portal of Canada. It gives you access to everything you need to write well in English and French: articles on language difficulties, linguistic recommendations, conjugation tables, translation suggestions and much more.

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Results 1 to 10 of 206 (page 1 of 21)

Food for thought: Exploring the origins of culinary terms

An English blog post about how words related to food travel from one language to another.At an Indian restaurant, I’m transported by the tantalizing spices and tasty dishes. When I eat out Italian, I savour the rich and creamy sauces. In Japanese cuisine, I’m amazed by the visual presentation of the dishes. If you’re like me, flavours, aromas, textures and colours take you away. But how many of us realize how far the vocabulary of food has travelled? English words borrowed from afar Words from foreign languages make us think of exotic places and unusual flavours. I’m sure it comes as no surprise to you that the English language has borrowed many such words. Note that the language from which English has borrowed these words is not necessarily the language from which these words originated. When it comes to language contact, there’s often an intermediary! Here are a few examples of English food terms borrowed from other languages. Some might surprise you… Foreign words borrowed into English English words borrowed from other languages Source language bratwurst, Emmenthal, kirsch, lager, noodle, pretzel, pumpernickel, sauerkraut, schnapps, schnitzel, strudel, vermouth German apricot, coffee, couscous, falafel, orange, saffron, shawarma, spinach, syrup, tabbouleh, tahini, tajine Arabic beef, café au lait, casserole, cream, croissant, cuisine, custard, eclair, mayonnaise, meringue, mousse, mustard, omelette, pastry, quiche, sauce, soufflé French avocado, barbecue, chorizo, daiquiri, empanada, fajita, gazpacho, guacamole, jalapeno, maize, maté, nacho, paella, quinoa, salsa, sangria, tapa, tortilla, vanilla Spanish amaretto, arugula, bergamot, broccoli, cauliflower, espresso, farfalle, lasagna, latte, macaroni, spaghetti, tiramisu, vermicelli, zucchini Italian baklava, bulgur, dolma, hummus, pilaf, raki, shish kebab, yogourt Turkish English words created in Canada From Canada’s Indigenous peoples, English borrowed words such as “saskatoon” berries and “pemmican” (dried meat mixed with fat and berries), as well as the names of animals enjoyed for their meat, like caribou, moose, sockeye, muskie and geoduck. We’ve also invented names for home-grown dishes: Beaver Tail (Ontario) Nanaimo bar (British Columbia) schmoo torte (Manitoba) English words used in other languages If English has borrowed food-related words, then you can be sure that English food terms have found their way into other languages as well. Take the humble sandwich: its name is well entrenched in French, Italian and Spanish! And who hasn’t heard of expressions such as “apporter son lunch,” “prendre un cocktail” or “préparer des muffins” in French? Terms like “hamburger,” “bacon” and “fast food” are also well known to Francophones. Culinary expressions Food is even the basis for many English idioms. Have you ever wondered why there are so many expressions with the word “salt”: worth one’s salt, take something with a grain of salt, the salt of the earth? In ancient times, salt was highly valued and was used as an item of trade and a form of currency. And here’s another example: when things are going well, we say everything is peaches and cream; when things are not going well, we say they have gone sour! I’m not feeding you a bunch of baloney when I say that words linked to food are used in a great variety of ways. To finish off, how about trying a food-themed quiz? I’m sure the Language Portal of Canada’s quiz Food clichés 1 will whet your appetite. You can find the “Food clichés” series in our quizzes on vocabulary, under Idiomatic expressions. Now, it’s your turn to make our mouths water. What are your favourite culinary words and expressions? Which ones make you chuckle? Share your thoughts in a comment! Adapted by Josephine Versace, Language Portal of Canada
Source: Our Languages blog (posts from our contributors)
Number of views: 154,639

The language of tweets and hashtags: A bilingual mini-glossary of social media terms

An English blog post on social media terminology.If I told you I added a “hashtag” to my Tweet or that I posted a “status update” on Facebook, you’d probably know what I meant. But what if I told you that I was a “wikipedian” or that my latest “vlog” was online? Would you know what I meant then? Maybe not! Today, we use social media to make it easier to share content, collaborate and connect with people. But social media platforms have a language all their own, and if you don’t know it, using certain platforms can be a challenge. Here’s a useful table that will help you understand the meanings of certain social media terms. The table also gives you the equivalent French term. So the next time you tweet in French, you can say you added “mots-clics” to your “gazouillis” instead of “j’ai tweeté des hashtags”!   English-French mini-glossary of social media terms English term French term Definition chatting clavardage (masculine noun) A real-time texting conversation between users over the Internet.1 unfriend désamicaliser; décopiner; amiradier To remove a person from your list of friends or contacts.1 geotagging data données de géomarquage (feminine plural noun) Information that associates a geographical location with photos, videos, messages, etc.1 emoticon; smiley émoticône (feminine noun); binette (feminine noun); A symbol or an image that represents the mood of the person sending the message. tag étiquette (feminine noun) A keyword added to a picture, video or text in order to classify its content or identify a person. Note: In French, the term used on Facebook is “identification.” crowdsourcing externalisation ouverte (feminine noun); externalisation à grande échelle (feminine noun) The practice of making use of the creativity, intelligence and expertise of Internet users to carry out a particular activity. home timeline fil d’actualités (masculine noun) On Twitter, the chronological stream of all the tweets from any accounts to which a user has subscribed.1 news feed fil de nouvelles (masculine noun) On Facebook, the centre column of a user’s homepage that contains status updates, videos, photos, etc. twitterer; tweeter gazouilleur (masculine noun), gazouilleuse (feminine noun) A Twitter account holder who reads and posts tweets. retweet; RT gazouillis partagé (masculine noun) On Twitter, a tweet that a user forwards to his or her followers. status update mise à jour de statut (feminine noun) A new post on your personal profile.1 Note: Term used on Facebook. hashtag mot-clic (masculine noun); mot-dièse (masculine noun) A keyword, a keyword string or a theme preceded by the pound or number sign and used to index and categorize content. handle; nickname pseudonyme (masculine noun); pseudo (masculine noun) An Internet user’s alias or shortened name. post publication (feminine noun) Anything published on a social media platform, such as text, images, videos and audio recordings. log in; sign in se connecter; ouvrir une session To start a log-in session; to sign into your account.1 log out; sign out se déconnecter; fermer une session To end the current log-in session; to sign out of your account.1 video blog; vlog; videoblog vidéoblogue (masculine noun); vlogue (masculine noun); blogue vidéo (masculine noun) A blog in which posts are in the form of a video.1 wikipedian wikipédiste (noun); wikipédien (masculine noun), wikipédienne (feminine noun) A person who writes or edits articles on Wikipedia. Source: The Translation Bureau’s Social Media Glossary 1 My own definitions. For a more complete list, I encourage you to check out the Social Media Glossary in TERMIUM Plus®. It’s a very useful tool for all social media users. Now that you know the meanings of certain social media terms, do you think you’ll be more comfortable using and talking about various social media platforms? Let us know in the comments below! Adapted by Natalie Ballard, Language Portal of Canada
Source: Our Languages blog (posts from our contributors)
Number of views: 52,795

in regard to, with regard to, as regards

A writing tip on when to put a final s on the word regard in the expressions in regard to, with regard to and as regards.
Write the noun regard in the singular in the phrases in regard to and with regard to. The store has called in regard to (not in regards to) the missing hot tub. With regard to (not with regards to) my recent accident in the hot tub, I have completely recovered. The final s is correct only in the phrase as regards, where regards is a verb. As regards the hot tub, I’m making a planter out of it! Note: In regard to, with regard to and as regards are wordy phrases. Instead, to communicate clearly and effectively, use about, as for, concerning or regarding, or rewrite the sentence. The store has called about (or concerning or regarding) the missing hot tub. I have completely recovered from my recent accident in the hot tub. As for the hot tub, I’m making a planter out of it! OR I’m making a planter out of the hot tub!
Source: Writing Tips Plus (English language problems and rules)
Number of views: 42,446

10 practical tips to enrich your French vocabulary

An English blog post on 10 tips for increasing your French vocabulary.When we learn a language, especially at school, we study grammar rules and verb conjugations, we memorize sentences and sometimes even word lists. But when the time comes to speak, we may feel unable to express our ideas clearly. Maybe we don’t have enough vocabulary to do so, or maybe the vocabulary we do have isn’t useful in that situation. For example, let’s say you have to give your opinion on city traffic. You know what your view is, but you lack the specific vocabulary to express it. Or let’s take a simpler, everyday example. After many hours of studying French, you want to explain how to prepare one of your favourite recipes. You know the verbs you need for the steps, but you don’t know the words for the ingredients. Or vice versa: you know the words for the ingredients, but not the verbs for the steps. So what can you do to enrich your vocabulary in a practical way, without creating or memorizing word lists? Through my experience as a French teacher and also as a foreign language learner, I’ve discovered a few simple but effective strategies for learning new words. Here are some everyday tips you may find helpful: 1. Read the French version of product labels Here in Canada, we have the wonderful advantage of having the labels of many products written in both official languages, English and French. 2. Make French the display language on your electronic devices Change the language setting to French on your computer, cellphone or tablet. 3. Read the news in French When you read a French newspaper, choose a news article, pick out the important words, and look them up in the dictionary. 4. Write a page in your journal for each of your daily activities For example, if you go to the gym, at the end of your workout, write up a summary to learn the French words for the machines and the muscles you used, and the exercises you did. 5. Check the weather forecast in French Break the ice with any Francophone by using the appropriate words to describe the weather in each season. 6. Find out the French name for your favourite articles of clothing for every season This way, each time you wear those items of clothing, you’ll think of their French name. And you’ll find shopping easier when you visit a Francophone province. 7. Create a Twitter account in French Even if you don’t like social media very much, you can still learn vocabulary for topics that interest you by following the accounts of people, groups and organizations (like the Language Portal of Canada) that matter to you. 8. Add French captions to your photos Why not create an Instagram account specifically to write French captions under your photos? You can also ask your (new) Francophone friends to suggest captions. 9. Enrich your vocabulary through play Click on Jeux sur le vocabulaire (vocabulary quizzes) on the Resources of the Language Portal of Canada website, and you’ll find a variety of quizzes that will help you discover new French words or refresh your memory of old ones. 10. Research vocabulary related to a topic that interests you TERMIUM Plus®, a terminology and linguistic data bank, lists numerous terms by subject field. That really helps in retaining concepts and applying them in everyday life. Now, it’s your turn! What tips would you add to this list? In the Comments section, share your ideas (or your friends’ ideas) for learning new vocabulary. Thanks in advance! Translated by Josephine Versace, Language Portal of Canada
Source: Our Languages blog (posts from our contributors)
Number of views: 22,067

Australian English in a nutshell

An English blog post on the origins and varieties of Australian English.Have you ever heard the expression “She’ll be apples”? What about “tracky daks” or “snags on the barbie”? These are just a few of the fascinating colloquialisms that are used in Oz. From its origins to its accents to other common sayings, here’s the lowdown on Australian English. Background The origins of Australian English can be traced back to the first European settlers, who began to arrive from the British Isles in 1788. Many of them were convicts sent to the penal colonies for mainly petty crimes; the rest were officers, marines, administrators, farmers and their families. As the children of these settlers became exposed to dialects from different regions of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, a new variety of English was created. Australian English was also enriched by contact with Australian Aboriginal languages, incorporating the Indigenous names of plants, animals and places (such as “bunya,” “dingo” and “Canberra”) into its vocabulary. As workers from abroad flocked to Australia in the 1850s in search of gold, the language continued to evolve. Later, by the 20th century, North American words, expressions and usage had crept into Australian English, largely as a result of films and mass media. The language was further influenced by military troops stationed in Australia during World War II, and later, by television and the Internet. Varieties There are three varieties of Australian English: cultivated, broad and general. These varieties differ in accent and are sociocultural rather than regional; that is, they often reflect the speaker’s social and educational background. At one end of the Australian English spectrum is Cultivated Australian, a variety that emerged towards the end of the 19th century in response to a British accent called Received Pronunciation. At the time, Received Pronunciation was associated with high social class and education. Thus, many socially aspiring Australians altered their accents to sound more British. This pronunciation was taught to Australians right up until the 1950s. Now, only about 10% of them speak the cultivated variety. On the other end of the spectrum is Broad Australian, a variety that developed in the early 20th century, possibly as a reaction against the emphasis on Received Pronunciation. The Broad Australian accent is easily recognizable and somewhat nasal; for example, the words “rate” and “buy” are pronounced “rite” and “boy.” Paul Hogan, of “Crocodile Dundee” fame, is well known for his Broad Australian accent. However, fewer and fewer Australians are sounding like the outlandish reptile poacher these days! Despite the emergence of the “extreme” cultivated and broad varieties, most Australians still speak General Australian, the accent that evolved between 1788 and 1840. It’s the most common of Australian accents, and it’s widely spoken in urban areas. General Australian English is also the standard language for Australian television and movies. Pronunciation and vocabulary In general, Aussies stretch their vowels, don’t pronounce “r” in the middle or at the end of words, and speak with a rising intonation at the end of a sentence. They also tend to shorten words and use endings such as “-o,” “-ie” and “-y” (guess where the word “selfie” comes from …). So if you’re ever in Australia and want to fit in, remember this simple rule: abbreviate, abbreviate, abbreviate! Check out the table below for a sampling of Australian English slang words and their Canadian English equivalents. Examples of Australian English slang words and their Canadian English equivalents Australian English Canadian English arvo afternoon barbie barbecue footy football jumbuck sheep mozzie mosquito roo kangaroo snag sausage sparky electrician sunnies sunglasses tracky daks tracksuit pants Finally, this post wouldn’t be complete without some colourful Aussie expressions. Here are some common sayings and their meaning in Canadian English. Examples of Australian English expressions and their meaning in Canadian English Australian English Canadian English chuck a sickie pretend to be sick in order to take the day off work or school come the raw prawn lie; deceive someone a fair suck of the sav a fair go at something flat out like a lizard drinking really busy give the Aussie salute wave flies away from one’s face good oil reliable information have a few roos loose in the top paddock be crazy she’ll be apples everything will be all right spit the dummy behave in a bad-tempered and childish way (“Dummy” refers to a pacifier.) How about you? Do you have any favourite Australian words or sayings? If so, please share them in the comments section! Catch ya later, mate!
Source: Our Languages blog (posts from our contributors)
Number of views: 18,431

foot (on, by)

A writing tip on using the phrases by foot and on foot.
The traditional prepositional phrase is on foot. Céline’s bicycle broke down, and she had to go to work on foot. The increasingly common by foot is also accepted but is used much less commonly. It is useful for parallelism when several methods of transportation are listed with the preposition by. Tourists visiting China travel by train, by airplane, by car and by foot.
Source: Writing Tips Plus (English language problems and rules)
Number of views: 16,762

What Gallicisms are and why we use them

An English blog post on Gallicisms.“I filled up on hors d’oeuvres earlier, so I think I’ll just order from the à la carte menu rather than having the table d’hôte.” What do you notice about that sentence? Probably that it contains 3 French expressions, right? You probably also noticed that the sentence didn’t sound strange to you. That’s because “hors d’oeuvres,” “à la carte” and “table d’hôte” are French expressions that we commonly use in English. Did you know that there’s a name for the French words and expressions that people use when speaking other languages? They’re called “Gallicisms,” which comes from the word “Gallic,” meaning “French.” And we use them for a number of reasons. Let’s explore a few together. 1. Cultural ties Certain words and expressions may be so rooted in a culture that it would feel strange to use the English equivalent (if there even is one). In parts of Quebec, such as Montreal and Gatineau, where English and French co-exist, words like “dépanneur,” “cabane à sucre,” “autoroute,” “guichet,” “stage,” “Régie,” “terrasse” and “chalet” are part of everyday speech, because they’re so tied to the province’s culture that using them is natural and maybe even necessary if we want to fit in and be understood. To put it into perspective, when we think of “going to the chalet,” we automatically think of the Laurentians. When we think of “going to the cottage,” our minds shift to the Muskokas or the Kawarthas. 2. Language mixing If we’re bilingual or multilingual and speak French often, we’ve likely used a French word or phrase in the other language. Maybe a word simply came to mind in French first either because that word, or to be more precise, that concept, is more common in the French culture. Or maybe we’d just returned from a full day at the office with mostly French-speaking co-workers, and we were still thinking in French. Whatever the reason, when we speak French and one or more other languages regularly, the constant contact between the languages makes it easy to use a French word or phrase unintentionally instead of the equivalent in the other language. 3. Lack of a suitable word or expression Sometimes, there’s just no suitable word or expression in another language to express a certain concept. For example, English has no equivalent for the French expressions “je ne sais quoi” and “joie de vivre.” Sure, we can find English words or phrases to describe the same concepts. For “je ne sais quoi,” we could say that something has an “indescribable quality” or “a certain something.” And for “joie de vivre,” we could say that someone has a “love of life.” But none of those phrases fully convey the meaning of the French expressions. So when we’re faced with such a gap and a French expression can fill it, we borrow it! 4. Literal translation Gallicisms can also occur when we translate a French expression word for word into another language. The temptation to do this can be strong if we’re fluent in French and can’t think of the right way to say something in another language. “Close the light” (rather than the idiomatic “turn off the light”) is a perfect example of a literal translation of “fermer la lumière.” For examples of other common Gallicisms that result from literal translations, such as “opening hours” and “providers of service,” check out the section of the University of Ottawa’s writing guide called Translation problems. Do you notice yourself using Gallicisms in everyday speech? If so, which ones do you use and why? Let me know in the comment section below!
Source: Our Languages blog (posts from our contributors)
Number of views: 15,289

helicopter view

A writing tip explaining the meaning of the expression helicopter view.
“To take a helicopter view” means to get a general overview of a situation or problem, without specific details. Another expression with a similar meaning is “to look at a problem from 30,000 feet.” These expressions once were colourful metaphors, but they have become clichés. We would suggest “get an overview” as a better alternative.
Source: Writing Tips Plus (English language problems and rules)
Number of views: 13,214

responsibility of, responsibility for

An article on the prepositions to be used after the noun responsibility.
The noun responsibility can be followed by the prepositions for and of. The oil company was forced to assume responsibility for the spill. Note that when of is used after the noun responsibility, the definite article must be used before the noun. The governor general has the responsibility of appointing the members of the King’s Privy Council for Canada.
Source: Writing Tips Plus (English language problems and rules)
Number of views: 12,402

Apple idioms

An English quiz on idiomatic expressions containing the word apple.There may not be any truth to the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but this quiz on common expressions with the word apple might help make your language skills healthier! In the questions below, choose the right meaning for each apple idiom.1. When talking about our neighbours’ daughter, we always say that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.She has a green thumb.She is shy and stays at home.She resembles her parents.2. Steve often says that Suzanne is the apple of his eye.She is a loving person.She is the object of his affection.She is very attractive.3. Michael is a real apple polisher.He uses flattery to gain favour.He often speaks ill of others.He is very encouraging.4. Alison and Sean are like apples and oranges.They are fun to be with.They are very different.They are natural and wholesome.5. Brandon doesn’t want to upset the apple cart, so he’ll go along with everyone else.He doesn’t want to go off alone.He doesn’t want to cause a problem.He doesn’t want to be different.6. Gillian’s room is in apple-pie order.It is nicely decorated.It is disorderly and cluttered.It is tidy and organized.7. One rotten apple spoils the barrel.One bad idea can ruin carefully made plans.One bad event can trigger a series.One bad person leads others to do wrong.8. Lisa and Josie both like the same boy. That has become an apple of discord between them.It causes them to disagree.It causes them to feel embarrassed.It causes them to feel betrayed.  
Source: Quizzes on the Language Portal of Canada
Number of views: 11,744