Some Goofs in French-English Translation

Taking into account that there are roughly 128 million people in the world who speak the French language, it’s no surprise many website owners are having their sites translated into this universal language. In addition to France and Canada, French speakers are also found in Switzerland, Belgium, and Luxembourg, of Europe. They reside in Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco, in Africa. They are natives from Cambodia and Vietnam, in Asia, and the list could grow. Whether the web pages are those of an enterprise engaging in e-commerce or a not-for-profit facility, French English translation services may be a requirement Translate to English to reach a considerably large number of people.

A Translation Budget

Most web pages were made public to be exhibited to as many eyes as possible. However, price is certainly a concern for owners who just can’t foot the expense that translation and interpretation can carry. How can these webmasters have a hand in the exchange of news and ideas with French speaking visitors?

The Available Options

A site that does not offer e-commerce or isn’t a non-profit organization, may only need translation for certain areas. They may be pages that the site owners have marked as very important and informative. This is one way that some money may be saved on French English translation works. Also, there are a few totally free services that are offered for non-commercial sites. There are students of translation studies that need experience to complete a practicum. is one such website where free help is available for short, non-commercial translations. If the site has built up heavy traffic, a webmaster shouldn’t jeopardize his site with free or very low cost French English translation services. They have a higher probability of tainting translations with blunders.

Doors to Goof Ups

French English translation, like any language translation, is usually an involved and tedious work because some text simply can’t be directly translated. In French, there’s an unfamiliar and familiar way of addressing another person involving the word ‘you’, which has two ‘forms’: ‘vous’ and ‘tu’. Therefore, the verbs ‘tutoyer’ and ‘vouvoyer’ have no straight translation to an English equivalent. Dictionaries often simply define ‘vous’ as being the unfamiliar address and ‘tu’ as the familiar. Nevertheless, this isn’t always thoroughly comprehended by English speakers in the process of learning French, especially beginners. Experience trains the mature French English translator to simply explain instead of define. ‘Tutoyer’ could simply indicate calling someone by their first name, and ‘vouvoyer’ by the last name. Some French English translation blunders can even be detected in names. The famous soccer player, Michel Platini’s first name has been mistaken for the common American female name, ‘Michelle’. Blunders don’t only happen when English speakers attempt to translate into French, but also when French speakers translate into English. In a Bed and Breakfast in France, an American tenant read a sign proclaiming: the genuine antics in your room come from our family castle. Long life to it.

Remember, once the decision has been made to contract French English translation services, an evaluation of the pros and cons of available choices has to be carried out.

Armando Riquier is a freelance translator and author who works with Tectrad’s quality control team. Tectrad specializes since 1990 in French English translation services of all types of corporate and business documents



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