The Dictionnaire Usito perfectly illustrates an academic research achievement. This digital dictionary on Quebec French standard usage was developed as a result of the FRANQUS research project (after “français québécois” and “usage standard”), which was created in 1996 at the Université de Sherbrooke under the direction of Hélène Cajolet-Laganière, Pierre Martel, and Chantal-Édith Masson.
Initiation of this project was preceded by a long digital documentation stage leading to the creation and enrichment of the Banque de données textuelles de Sherbrooke (BDTS). This bank, constituting a series of over 15 000 texts from Quebec authors and today boasting over 50 million words, was developed to be used as a baseline description of Quebec French.
Usito today provides a bridge to the rest of the French-speaking world. It offers open content on North America and the world. It is the only such offering with a detailed description of the world with which Quebecers and other North American French speakers can identify themselves.
The Université de Sherbrooke’s reputation of excellence in terms of French studies and linguistic variations has little left to prove; Usito remains an essential tool for training the next generation of scientists in the field.