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Near the end of this show (here, but it requires logging in to the website), a boy who was born without arms tells us:

C'est correct d'être différent.

I suspected that this did not mean "It's correct to be different", but I could not guess from context what it did mean. The way I found out that it means "It's ok to be different" is by plugging it into DeepL translator.

Using the following methods would have failed, if I had tried them:

  • the WordReference page for "correct" only has entries that mean correct/proper/accurate, but not okay/acceptable/opposite-of-blameworthy
  • plugging "c'est correct" into Linguee gives a page mostly full of examples with the meaning of "correct". There are a couple of examples with the words "OK", but without already knowing that the boy is saying "It's ok to be different", I would not have been able to realize that these examples applied to "C'est correct d'être différent". (The examples that use the words "OK" also don't strongly make it clear that "OK" means "acceptable" or "opposite-of-blameworthy", eg:
    • Cela est correct et l'on préfère cette condition au problème original. // This is O.K. and usually greatly preferred over the original problem.
    • C'est correct de limiter le temps qu'ils passent devant les médias électroniques, dit-il. // It's OK to limit their time with electronic media, he says. )

The only other ways I could imagine I could learn the meaning of this sentence, are:

  • Be smart enough to learn it from context, maybe after seeing many examples of it on TV shows or books.
  • Eventually happen to come across a youtube video with both French and English subtitles, that has "c'est correct d'être .." used to mean "It's okay to be ..". (The Chrome plugin "Language Learning with Youtube" allows me to watch two different subtitle languages at the same time)
  • ask someone (eg, ask on french.stackexhange.com)

Are there any other ways I could have learned the meaning of this, if I didn't want to rely on DeepL translator?

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    It's worth noting (as some of the answers do) that the site is Canadian, and this is definitely Canadian French, not "French French". Nobody in France would say "C'est correct d'être différent".
    – jcaron
    Nov 7 '20 at 13:46
  • @jcaron the difficulty is: how would i have known this (that "c'est correct" was a Canadian French expression) ? there's no way that i could have known; i just assumed that i didn't understand it for the same reason as when i don't understand anything i see in a TV show (eg because i don't understand the French languauge very well), and so that's why i went ahead and looked it up in a dictionary!
    – silph
    Nov 7 '20 at 17:06
  • @silph of course that’s obvious for a native “French French speaker”. For someone learning the language it’s probably a lot more difficult. I haven’t seen (or actually, heard) the video, but I suppose the accent must be notably different. Canadian French is distinctively different, a lot more than American English is from British English, to the point that it’s not infrequent that Canadian French speakers get subtitles in France. I guess it’ll just be a matter of time before you notice the difference without even thinking about it.
    – jcaron
    Nov 7 '20 at 21:44
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Regional expressions can be hard to find depending on the limitations of any work of reference. If you go to a resource or dictionary that is a little dated or just not expanded, you hit a wall. Fortunately, the Internet is big, and so is Québec when it comes to promoting French. If you type "C'est correct" into a giant search engine, the first result is this resource:

OffQC, Québécois French Guide

C’EST CORRECT When you want to say it’s/that’s fine, it’s/that’s ok in French, you can say c’est correct. Maybe your partner just burnt the toast, but you don’t mind. C’est correct, là! C’est pas grave. It’s fine! It’s no big deal. Note that correct is pronounced informally as correc’ in spoken language, without the final t.

It is not bad French; it's just not very continental. To say that c'est correct n'est pas correct, c'est pas correct.

The search engine even suggested "quebecois" as I started typing "c'est correct" to see what would come up. The trouble, as you found, is that correct has other meanings in French and can be a faux ami. You have found a good case for search engine computations.

Lexilogos has a collection of resources for QC (and world) dictionaries, including Usito, Trésor de la langue française au Québec, and L'Office québécois de la langue française.

At the BDLP (Base de données lexicographiques panfrancophone), you can select multiple countries.

Here is the list of Lexilogos resources for la francophonie not specific to Québec.

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  • i accepted this answer because it gives me a strategy i didn't think of: "Just type it into google" (and "consider that it might be an expression unique to Canada, and check a Canadian French dictionary".) the difficulty that i feel people aren't appreciating is that i had no way of knowing that this was a Canadian regionalism; the only way a person could know this is if they already had a high level of French language ability! though, in this particular case, it turns out that typing the expression into google would have told me that it's a Canadian French thing.
    – silph
    Nov 7 '20 at 17:10
  • Franchement I never thought that I would give that as advice. Not having seen this video, I still imagine that the voice actors for a children's show and its characters would use a more neutral/broadcast media (albeit still Canadian) accent, which might not stand out as much as in a sitcom or drama as you're training your ear. The big thing is to keep going, and keep asking questions. Courage continue !
    – livresque
    Nov 7 '20 at 23:27
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@silph The expression "c'est correct" is typically a Canadian French expression. In France, this expression is never used, preferring the term "c'est acceptable", (that's acceptable) or "ce n'est pas grave" (it doesn't matter). Canada and France are full of very different French expressions.Idello's videos are aimed at Canadian children who want to learn French. At times, there are words and expressions of Canadian French used and "c'est correct" because even in oral French, expressions specific to the countries are perfectly understood and accepted.

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  • aha! This might explain why I couldn't find anything about "correct" being used to mean "ok" in WordReference!
    – silph
    Nov 6 '20 at 16:40
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"It's okay to be different." is not translated by "C'est correct d'être différent.", there is no doubt about that.

Here, "okay" has to do with a notion of acceptability, better, a notion of self-respect.

"Correct" in French cannot translate that. A different approach is necessary.

  • Il n'y a pas a avoir (de) honte parce que l'on est différent. Il n'y a pas de honte à avoir parce qu'on est différent.

  • Il n'y a pas à vous pointer du doigt parce que vous êtes différent.

  • On ne doit pas pointer les gens du doigt parce qu'ils sont différents.

Other formulations will be found, each with its particular nuance.


In my opinion, the best way is the long way, that is, essentially the first one of the solutions you envisage (from context). I'd say that, on the basis of a solid understanding of your mother tongue and then of a good understanding of the tongue you study you can gain the ability to create accurate translation solutions that might otherwise take up a very large amount of your time in fruitless research. There is a question of trade off to consider: time invested in extracting meaning as best you can from the material (books, videos) versus immediate and accurate understanding through research (understanding which you can always obtain by reading translations, but then you don't learn). Other means, beyond a good bilingual dictionary or two for the fundamental correspondence between words, are not too good because there does not exist yet any really comprehensive, detailed source of information.

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  • if "c'est correct d'être différent" doesn't mean "it's okay to be different", what does it mean when the character says that in the video?
    – silph
    Nov 6 '20 at 9:33
  • @silph It seems to me that the people using "It's correct…" were at a loss for a translation of the American "okay" and were eager to provide something as short as "okay" and so ended up with choosing something very approximative. "okay" in this context is certainly not "accurate"; it is not either "right and suitable" nor 'taking care to speak or behave in a way that follows the accepted standards". In fact, "okay" here is the expression of how society reacts to a difference shown by the individual; it is not a judgement about the behaviour of that individual. (1/2)
    – LPH
    Nov 6 '20 at 9:59
  • @silph So, what the character is saying is bad French, French in the making and half-baked, as there is so much of it around. It's another instance of make-do, hoping to get by with the same old words when what has to be translated comes from a language with a greater number of words and new words. (2/2)
    – LPH
    Nov 6 '20 at 10:05
  • i'm surprised that this is bad French, since this show was not translated from English, but instead created originally in French, for francophone children who live in Ontario! but i appreciate your own suggestions of how "it's okay to be different" could have been translated using better French.
    – silph
    Nov 6 '20 at 10:18
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    @LPH I think you missed the fact that the site is Canadian, so this is Québecois rather than "French French". Indeed in France nobody would say "C'est correct d'être différent", but over there it does indeed mean "it's okay to be different".
    – jcaron
    Nov 7 '20 at 13:49

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