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The Wonderful World of Accounting

 

By Barbara McClintock, Certified Translator and Certified Terminologist

Dictionnaire de la comptabilité et de la gestion financière, Third online edition (3.2), Louis Ménard, FCA, and collaborators, Chartered Professional Accountants (CPA) Canada, updated in 2014 and 2020.

 

You may have noticed that there has not been an updated paper version of the Dictionnaire de la comptabilité et de la gestion financière by Louis Ménard et al for some time. The reason is that the highly regarded “Ménard dictionary” is now available online.

Since Québec has approximately 40,000 active Chartered Professional Accountants who work in every economic sector, the Dictionnaire de la comptabilité et de la gestion financière is not a luxury, but a necessity. The same basic core of experts worked on this updated version, including Murielle Arsenault, Jean-François Joly, Jean-Jacques Lavoie and 13 other collaborators. 

Options: Interface and search languages and “starts with” or “contains”

Since, at the time of writing this review, it is tax season, let’s first look up a few tax terms. Using the English interface and French as a search language, you can pick from “starts with” or “contains.” If you select “contains,” the window will show all the expressions in the dictionary that contain your word. Enter abri fiscal and you will find a French definition plus the English equivalent (tax shelter) and a cross-reference to “tax avoidance.” Still using English as the search language, if you search for “tax avoidance,” you will find évitement fiscal as the French equivalent, together with an interesting usage note for prospective tax dodgers. In Belgium, the term évasion fiscale refers to both legal and illegal methods that taxpayers may use to reduce their taxes, whereas in Canada, the same French expression refers solely to illegal tax evasion. So, there is a distinction to be made in Canada between évitement fiscal (tax avoidance, which is the goal of a good tax specialist) and fraude fiscale or its synonym évasion fiscale (tax evasion, which is illegal in Canada, but not in Belgium).

Having said this, please note that the Canada Revenue Agency “defines ‘tax avoidance’ as any taxpayer activity that minimizes tax payable by contravening the object and spirit – but not the letter – of the law.”1

Now, let’s look at a few tricky terms, e.g., “net of,” the verb “to net” and the noun “vote.” When English is used as the search language for “tax shelter,” “tax sheltered” also pops up. The equivalent is exonéré d’impôt, and there is a cross-reference to “net of tax” which translates as après impôt, net d’impôt.

The verb “to net” is défalquer or soustraire in French. The dictionary provides a few notes: There is an example of use, “Par exemple, dans l’établissement du résultat, on déduit, défalque ou soustrait les charges des produits (deduct expenses from revenues or net expenses against revenues).” When you net something, you basically subtract expenses to show the net value.

With regard to “vote,” it is translated as crédit budgétaire, crédit parlementaire or crédit. The definition is in French in the Ménard dictionary (our translation): authorization given by Parliament to use public money or government funds for a specific use. 

Some notes for language professionals

In cases where it is impossible to choose one French headword over another because of different regional usages, more than one main headword is listed. The records contain explanatory notes, linguistic notes and cross-references (compare with, and see also). Explanatory notes (in French only) provide an example or additional information. Linguistic notes provide information on linguistic issues also in French only. English synonyms are in alphabetical order with Canadian spelling listed first, whereas French synonyms are generally ranked in decreasing order from those with the broadest meaning to those with the most limited meaning. There are many noteworthy entries to read, especially for French-speaking language professionals as the dictionary is mainly intended to provide correct French accounting and financial terminology for Canada, France and Belgium. 

A treasure trove

As you can see from the small sample of terms discussed above, the dictionary is interesting to read, and now that it is online, easy to consult. The online tool offers a wealth of information, with around 200 new entries and a thorough revision of many existing entries. It of course takes into account the terminology introduced by the International Financial Reporting Standards and incorporates the securities terms from the Dictionnaire des dérivés et autres instruments financiers.

 

 


 

Committee Report No. 6 - FINA (42-1) - House of Commons of Canada (ourcommons.ca)

 

The Wonderful World of Accounting


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