OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program) is the English name of my province's student loans program.

The French name is RAFEO (Regime d'aide financière aux étudiantes et étudiants de l'Ontario).

"Ontario Student Assistance Program" is a little bit ambiguous. For example, does the word "Ontario" describe the Program, or does "Ontario" describe the Students? (ie, is it a Student Assistance Program that is Ontarian, or is it an Assistance Program for Ontario Students?)

(Indeed, there is more ambiguity: is it an Assistance Program for Ontario Students, or is it a Program for [ [Ontario Student] Assistance] )? )

My question: is it true that the French name is completely unambiguous? That is, that it is a Program for [financial aid to [students who live in Ontario]]? (so, Ontario describes the students, not the Program?)

Edited to add

Question #2: If there is a group of words that act like a noun (such as Regime d'aide financière aux étudiantes et étudiants de l'Ontario), where there are many "de" and "à" words, what are the rules that group the adjectives and nouns together?

Question #3: Can you give me somoe examples of French sentences that use the rules explained in the answer to Question #2, but still have ambiguity?

1 Answer 1


Yes, in French the name is not ambiguous.

If Ontario was to describe the Program then it would have been written differently.

For example, if the name was Regime d'aide financière étudiante de l'Ontario then "étudiante" is adjective of the assistance and Ontario would be describing the program.

Same if it was written Regime d'aide financière de l'Ontario aux étudiantes et étudiants

  • You say the French name is "far less ambiguous". It is in fact completely without ambiguity, or is there still some ambiguity in it?
    – silph
    Jun 6, 2018 at 15:20
  • Also, suppose Ontario were to describe the program. Would the following sentence be one way to say this: Regime de l'Ontario d'aide financière aux étudiantes et étudiants?
    – silph
    Jun 6, 2018 at 15:22
  • 3) Also, with your first sentence (Regime d'aide financière étudiante de l'Ontario), you say that Ontario is describing "Regime". How come Ontario is not instead describing "aide"?
    – silph
    Jun 6, 2018 at 15:23
  • Ontario is describing the whole "Regime d'aide financière ". That's why I said program. And Regime de l'Ontario d'aide financière aux étudiantes et étudiants does not work. Like in English there is an order to adjectives in French.
    – guillau4
    Jun 6, 2018 at 15:30
  • In similar sentences there would still be some ambiguity: « [regime d'aide] financière » or « regime [d'aide financière] » ? In this sentence we know it must be the second one because regime is masculine, aide is feminine, and the adjective has feminine agreement. But if both nouns were the same gender it would be ambiguous.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Jun 6, 2018 at 16:47

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