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Anonymous asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 1 decade ago

"Fleuve" vs. "Rivière"?

I am a geographer and have noticed that many of the French language names for rivers in Canada are designated "fleuve" while others are designated "rivière". In English, all are designated "river". What exactly is the difference between "fleuve" and "rivière"? A Canadian colleague (who doesn't speak French) suggested the difference was that a "rivière" flows into another "rivière" or into a "fleuve" whereas a "fleuve" flows directly into the sea or ocean. Is this correct? He wasn't sure of his answer. {Ideally, a native French speaking geographer will answer this question.}

5 Answers

  • Maya
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    A "rivière" flows into another rivière or directly into a "fleuve". A "fleuve" flows" into the sea/ocean. I'm not a geographer but I'm a native and I know that! Rivière and fleuve sound very different to us, because of the size, it sounds strange for a French that you English speaking people use the same word!

    Well known "fleuves" (sorry I don't know the name in English but you should understand) : The Amazone, the Seine, the Danube, the Nil

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    The word "fleuve" is used to identify large rivers of rapid waters while the word "riviere" is used to identify small-type streams and brooks.

    In short, "fleuve" has a more physically geographical connotation while "riviere" has a more tamed meaning. In English, we do have that going on also with the aforementioned "brook" versus "stream". Other than a few obscure differences that are hardly there, the two are practically congruent.

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  • 4 years ago

    This is one case where the English language is poor (?) on describing a body of flowing water that is larger, wider, longer than a rill, a runnel, a burn (Scot.), a beck (N. England), a gullet, a brook, a rivulet or a stream. The English word "river" describes any body of flowing water across which a normal individual (as opposed to an athlete) cannot leap in a single stride. Indeed, we have no English equivalent for the French "fleuve", although we use words ressembling it, like fluvial and fluviometer, derived straight from the Latin word for river: i.e. fluvius.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I am fluent in French and I just realized that you are right, "river"= "riviere" and also "Fleuve"... That is very interesting... Your colleague might be right cause I know that Senegal in West Africa (my native country) has 2 "fleuves" and they both run into the Atlantic ocean.

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  • Anonymous
    6 years ago

    I was just looking up the same....Actually the Danube flows into the Black Sea so the reasoning fleuve/riviere being based on where the stream terminates is wrong...

    • Maxime4 years agoReport

      A "fleuve" terminates in a sea/ocean. The black sea is a sea...

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