Tips to Get the Best English-French translation – Part I

Lego people collaborating to get the job done - like a translator collaborating with his customer to get the best translation

Except your English to French translator, the person most interested in getting the best English-French translation is, of course, you. However, because of a lack of knowledge about the translation process, your collaboration may not be as effective as it should. Or, even worse, you may end up disturbing the outcome.

With that in mind, I have listed some measures that should be observed by everyone involved in a French translation. I understand that in real life, the situation sometimes goes beyond our control. So, let’s say the following recommendations represent the best scenario, where everyone wins.

Plan Your English-French Translation Project

It is very important to plan a project in advance and give the French translator the time to do their job in the best condition possible. If you are already accustomed to working with a translator, you should have an idea of ​​how long it takes to accomplish a particular task. However, productivity varies from person to person, from text to text and even from day to day.

Be aware that several “obstacles” can disrupt your translator at any time.

Your translator may have time reserved for another project, juggling two or more texts at a time. He might be able to offer your translation project his full dedication, which is very common.

The text may vary from what the professional is accustomed to translate. This makes the process more time consuming.

The translator may be busy with personal issues or even preparing to take a vacation.

I recommend that you always talk to your translator as soon as you know of a future translation. If your company deals with recurring projects that need translation, there is no reason not to warn the translator in advance. Of course, you can only ask someone to book their time when you have more details, such as dates, text size, content, etc. An organised translator will be grateful to know that a project is coming. They will have this future project in mind when setting up their work schedule.

In your company, make sure that everyone involved in the production of the original text meets the deadlines. In addition, the timeline must take into account not only the work of the translator itself but also the time it takes for someone in your company to make a final reading of the translation. Nevertheless, be very careful: asking your staff to “edit” a translation is a double-edged sword and should be done with great care and responsibility.

Know that very short deadlines are usually accompanied by emergency fees. These are expenses that you can avoid, though. And there’s more: chaotic deadlines can affect the quality of the final text. I will discuss this topic in more detail in the near future.

Reference Materials for the Translation

As far as avoiding mistakes in translating a technical text is concerned, I suggest that you use people from your company who are experts in the subject to provide translators with appropriate terminology and reference materials. This advice is pertinent to all types of text and media. It is important to send to the translator all materials that are in any way related to the text to be translated.

If you have relevant bilingual documents such as previously translated content, do not even think twice! Other useful materials are glossaries (monolingual or bilingual), lists of preferred terms, style manuals, acronyms, abbreviations and acronyms written in length, etc. In general, experienced translators are prepared to detect pertinent terms, phrases, and other style elements present even in monolingual texts. So, go ahead and submit that report in English produced in 2012, even if you do not find the translation into French. Likewise, all relevant texts in the target language (i.e. language to which the text is translated) will be most welcome.

These support materials help you maintain consistency between your company texts. They help your translator deliver a high-quality service. Depending on the case, access to these materials may even reduce the delivery schedule.

As you can see, everyone benefits from of these measures. You increase your chances of receiving an impeccable English-French translation. Moreover, your French translator appreciate the support and consideration that help them meet their client’s needs more quickly and efficiently.

For more tips, read Tips to Get the Best English-French translation – Part II

Trial and tribulations of a translator – some thoughts

Starting a new business is like Walking on thin ice

I started Extra Speech in 1995 while I was a student in Portsmouth, in the UK.

I had that famous, you know, “aha moment”. I had all the images in my head about what the business would be like and I knew that is what I wanted to do.

For me, the business made sense. I had that idea to start a translation business because I had a passion for languages and cultures. Also, I had an interest in business. Similarly, I wanted to have control over shaping my future and being able to make a difference in the world.

Consequently, within a few months, I did the legal paperwork to officially start my business. And so, in 1995, I was in business as an English to French Freelance translator.

In the early days, I started working for a small translation agency, which was fun and interesting, and challenging too. At the time, I was mostly translating user guides and manuals, marketing and sales literature, and interpreting.

Yet, the vision I had already for my business was not just translating. In addition, I wanted to help companies by improving their image and the perception of their product via translation.

As of today, that vision still remains, and I can safely say that I’m as excited about the business today as I was back then in 1995. Most importantly, I’m still helping clients succeed overseas and here at home.

Translation and work ethics

The code of ethics for translators contains all kinds of values: confidentiality, respect, dignity, privacy, accuracy to name a few.

All the items on the code of ethics are equally important. They really set the foundation for the training that soon to be translators and interpreters need, to be effective. Yet, one of the three that standout is translating accurately.

Knowing that translators, when they are dealing with different cultures, have to still convey the meaning of what is being said and translate everything that is being said.

On top of that, they have to keep everything confidential.

Moreover, they also have to keep an impartial attitude when they are translating and remain neutral.

This applies two interpreters as well.

That is important because sometimes non-English speakers might ask an interpreter for advice such as ‘What would you do? Would you have this procedure done?’ and the interpreters are in a powerful position because they speak multiple languages and they understand both cultures. Yet, they have to remain impartial in that scenario.

Having that code of ethics is really important as a foundation.

There was a study recently that just came out talking about the challenges of working with an untrained interpreter and a trained interpreter.

It was really interesting. They quantified the impact of errors that were made by highly trained interpreters compared to errors that were made by less trained or untrained interpreters. What they found is that for interpreters who had very little or no training – volunteers for example in a hospital – that over 20% of the mistakes that those interpreters made could have had a negative impact on the patient.

On the other hand, on the errors that the highly trained interpreters made, only 2% of those errors were likely to have a negative or harmful impact on the patient.

Furthermore, they found that the highly trained interpreters made many fewer mistakes, so that the total impact of training was very obvious.

Examples of difficult translations

Translation case study 1

I had a case that I had found really difficult, which involved a human resources manager of a local manufacturing company. She requested a price quotation for translating their entire human resources and safety procedures.

After they’ve received a quote about how much that would cost them, the human resources manager said that the price was higher than she had budgeted. And why couldn’t you just translate the last page of the manual? Which was sort of the knowledgement of receipt and understanding, just a sign off page.

Well, this was a challenge because to be asked to translate just the knowledgement and understanding page vs. the entire training and safety manual is a little disturbing. When clients are looking to get something translated, it is really thinking about who the audience is and how it is going to be used. At the end of the day, though, I could help this customer. I advised her to reduce the amount of text to be translated so as to budget for translations while still making sure that employees were safe in the workplace.

The question being, is there anything that I can do to make the document more internationally friendly? If it it is a training manual or an instruction manual, perhaps some of the lengthy text could be replaced by some diagrams or some charts so that makes it less wordy to translate? So it is more cost effective to translate that way. There are different strategies that I can work with clients to make a document easily translatable so that the message is getting across accurately and on budget.

Translation case study 2

Another situation involved a doctor who had a patient.

The patient said he couldn’t speak English. Yet, the doctor said, “Yes, you can speak English. You’re just sort of faking it.”

The client had requested an interpreter for this patient. It was documented in the system that the patient had a French language limitation and needed an interpreter. When the appointment was scheduled, I arrived early for the appointment. Yet, surprisingly, the meeting was already taking place. Everyone had got a little ahead of schedule.

They were already meeting. Therefore when I went into the room and was told that I wasn’t needed. Yet, when I would look at the patient, his body language clearly showed that he didn’t understand what was going on. The purpose of this appointment was – as a matter of fact – a pre-surgery consult – going over what was going to happen with the surgery. How to prepare for surgery, the usual – not to eat anything, not to drink anything within a certain amount of time. Because there would be serious complications that could result if the protocol is not followed.

Therefore when I realised that the patient didn’t speak French, I intervened with the provider. He was very insistent that the patient did in fact speak French. There was obviously a cultural competency of cultural awareness that was lacking. Surprisingly, the provider was an immigrant who was from a non-French-speaking country.

Nevertheless, I stepped more in the role, in this case, of an advocate, to be able to make sure that the patient was able to get the care needed. Yet, the provider was still again insisting on just going forward. He said I could leave and go help someone else. Before then, I – as a matter of fact – verified, asking direct questions to the patient, ‘do you understand?’ and the patient said, ‘No, I do not understand.’

I then politely went out of the room and was able to come back in with a supervisor. This in some way resolved the situation. The provider later worked with the supervisor. They got additional training and information about how to be you culturally appropriate and culturally sensitive and the importance of being able to accurately communicate.

That was a very complex situation.

The importance for the translator or the interpreter of maintaining objectivity

It is very important to maintain objectivity, to maintain both parties or all participants in an interpreting session, to trust that the interpreter is going to be impartial.

However, if the outcome is being jeopardised at some point, the interpreter then is allowed to advocate or intervene in a way that can get things back on track. The next case demonstrates that, where confidentiality is still being protected, I was able to intervene indirectly but very effectively to save a situation that was in jeopardy.

A “delicate” interpreting situation

I had interpreted for a number of appointments for a patient who had previously been in a gang.

Yes, you heard me – A gang.

Through the course of some previous appointments I had shared, it was interpreted that he had taken illegal drugs in the past. So during this particular appointment on that day, the provider needed to find out if the patient had taken drugs previously because that would hinder the treatment plan going forward for this other scenarios that he was dealing with.

It could have been dangerous.

And in fact, if he had taken illegal drugs before, then this new treatment plan would be very detrimental to his health.

So when interpreting, the provider said, ‘Have you taken any drugs previously?’ and the patient very quickly said matter-of-factly ’No, I didn’t’.

Of course, I am interpreting everything that is being said. Yet, in my mind, I’m thinking, oh my goodness, I know that is not accurate.

Now, I have the dilemma of knowing this information that is confidential. Yet, if I don’t share it, then what is going to happen to the patient’s health?

So again, I try and act very strategically and carefully, then realised: Okay, in order to not divulge confidentiality, I can as the interpreter, ask the provider to ask the question again and to explain the reasoning behind the question.

So the provider asked the question again, ‘Have you taken any drugs previously?’ and then why that was important and fortunately, the patient said this time, ’Well yes, to be honest, I have.

Yet, in my mind, I’m thinking, oh my goodness, I know that is not accurate. Now, I have the dilemma of knowing this information that is confidential. Yet, if I don’t share it, then what is going to happen to the patient’s health?

So again, I try and act very strategically and carefully, then realised: Okay, in order to not divulge confidentiality, I can as the interpreter, ask the provider to ask the question again and to explain the reasoning behind the question.

So the provider asked the question again, ‘Have you taken any drugs previously?’ and then why that was important and fortunately, the patient said this time, ’Well yes, to be honest, I have.

So they were able to find a new course of treatment for him. And his confidentiality was preserved.

Also, they didn’t report him. Everything went well. It could easily have gone off-track.

To conclude, I would say there is a very ethical tight. What is important for people to realise is that you can be bilingual, you can even be bicultural. Yet, it doesn’t mean that you can be an effective interpreter. So to make an interpreter effective, you have to have a lot of training.

After all, being bilingual and bicultural doesn’t mean that you are a good interpreter.

Translation

The same is true also on the translation side. An interpreter is someone who focuses on the spoken language and verbally and this is done by telephone by video, face-to-face, or in person. On the other side, there is document translation. Translators tend to focus on written words, working in their homes, all over the world.

It is not contextual.

And they also have a bit more time to find the exact words. Translators have to have training in the skills to be able to translate accurately, or the message can be completely missed.

Translation for Businesses

Whenever an organisation has language or cultural obstacles to overcome, they have a choice to make. If they decide to tackle those issues head-on, then they are going to have an opportunity to reduce costs, reduce risk and have better outcomes.

A wonderful study came out recently that – as a matter of fact – looked at CEOs from global companies. The study asked them, ‘Why do you think you are losing business opportunities overseas?’ or ‘How have you lost these contracts overseas?’ One of the things that they say was a primary reason, 49% of the time, the CEOs said that they lost big international deals because they did not have the language and cultural competence in that organisation. 85% of them said that they would have greater revenues, greater market share and increased profits if they had the translation resources.

In conclusion, it shows the importance of being culturally aware and culturally sensitive in business.

Do you notice anything different about me?

a different translation

You’ve had your website translated into French?
 
Congratulations on Opening Your Business to Millions of French-speaking potential clients.

Yet, like many companies, you might have used a translation agency to translate your document into French.

Have you ever considered using a Freelance Translator? If you have not, let me give you 3 very good reasons why You Should:

(Much) Better Quality of translation

  • Translator gets to know your business, your language, your style and your company, becoming part of your team
  • Style and Terminology become MORE consistent
  • You are 100% sure YOUR translator is a French-native speaker and Professional Translator

No middleman = Better Value for Money

Direct Contact

  • One Point of Contact
  • Strong relationship with Trusted & Competent Translator
  • Easier communication

Today, you can have your documentation into French, with a MUCH BETTER Value for Money and Quality that any Translation Agency can offer you.

How do I know that? Simple: Most translation agencies you might employ are using a Freelance Translator just like me, taking their cut along the way.

Why not cut the middle man, and get Better Translations in the process?

Contact me now for a quote for the translation of your document and/or website and see the difference


If Only Everything in Life was as Reliable as a Translation

looking for a reliable translator

You’ve hired a translator to have a document translated into French, thinking that all is tickety boo. Suddenly, everything goes so wrong.

Ever had some pretty Bad experiences with translators?

15 things that could go wrong with your translator

_ Poor translation: Typos, Spelling mistakes, Inconsistencies, Omissions, Terminology is all wrong

_ Translator has clearly not proofread his/her work before delivery

_ Has only a basic school level/understanding of the English language

_ Poor writing skills/no subtleties in the French language

_ Tells you he/she is familiar with a subject when it is clear they are not

_ You get No feedback on the current translating job. Translator is not answering their phone. Worse, they are clearly Ignoring your calls

_ Your Instructions are being followed

_ Wrong format used

_ Translator changed the Names of all (200) files, for no apparent reason

“I’ve been ill, my car/computer/house/dog broke down”

_ Translator tells you his/her computer has crashed and they’ve lost everything, preferably 2 days before delivery of a large and very important document

_ LATE DELIVERY or NO DELIVERY without notification

_ Translator is giving up in the middle of a project or simply disappearing and never sending you the translation?

You’ve probably heard/seen it all, when they are disorganized or simply don’t care

_ Translator HIRED somebody else to do the job behind your back

_ Using Machine Translation

_ Claiming they’re using a CAT tool but they DON’T and/or don’t know how

_ They’re being RUDE and/or lack of professionalism

_ Translator contacting your client to steal him away from you or bad-mouth you

Finding the right English into French translator for your translation project can be a Real Nightmare

Well, at Extra Speech, I work differently and this is why:

Meeting the basic requirements and more

  • French Native
  • Highly Proficient in English: Lived 14 years in the UK, South Africa, Australia and Canada

Years of study and practice

  • 25+ years experience in the translation industry
  • Several million words translated
  • Qualified:
    • MA in Translation Studies from the University of Portsmouth
    • LEA (Hons) in English Language from the Université of Lyon, France

Relevant Expertise to Your project

Only accept subjects I know well – If I’m out of my depth, I will find you the right translator for your translation project

Better Translations

  • A translator who lives in France, with the target audience
  • Natural French – A Translation that won’t feel like a translation

Accuracy and Technical Expertise

  • All your CAT Tool projects handled and a Greater Consistency using SDL Studio (preferred), memoQ or WordFast Pro
  • Right Terminology, with MultiTerm and glossaries compiled over the years for your benefit
  • Most file formats handled, with documents whose layout mirrors the original as closely as possible

Giving You peace of mind

  • Confidentiality and discretion, according to the Code of Professional Conduct of the Société Française des Traducteurs (SFT)
  • Your translation on time, When You Want it:
    • Out of 78 projects this year, every one of which I delivered by the deadline, more than half of which I delivered early!

Making your life easy, saving your time

  • A translator who reads and adheres to your instructions
  • Independent but ability to work with other translators and proofreaders
  • Easy to contact
  • Easy payment
    • Any currency via PayPal or Transfer

So, if you are looking for a smooth translation experience with a reliable English to French translator, contact me now.

Translation – Buy It, Sell It, Love It

become more visible in France

Are you making the most of your business opportunities by getting your company to become more visible to a worldwide audience?

Chances are that your competitors are localizing their technical, marketing, and educational messages so that these documents are more accessible to their clients.

More and more businesses are building websites that include information in other languages in order to reach a wider audience. And it isn’t just international audiences that need these multilingual sites. Canada is an extremely diverse country. Take Vancouver as an example. More than half of the city’s population claim a language other than English as their native language, meaning that businesses that demonstrate a willingness and ability to speak in these languages are far more likely to enjoy growth and success.

Did you know that …

  • More than 70% of all web surfers prefer to speak and read in a language other than English?
  • More than half of all search queries on Google are done in a language other than English?
  • People are three times more likely to buy your product or service if information is available in their native language?

Enlisting the help of a professional translator to localize your print and online messages can be exactly what your company needs in order to grow and tap into an increasingly diverse market.

The choice is yours! Trust the professionals!

15 tips to increase your chances to work with translation agencies

How to be a successful freelance translator

My freelance translation business hardly ever advertise for translators, since I do most of my work in house or with the help of a tiny team of trusted other translators.

However, nearly every day, I receive an average of a dozen emails from translators offering their translation services with different language combinations and areas of expertise. Unfortunately, these types of emails are written in such a way that it ensures they very often end up in my spam folder or in my trash folder.
Here are some of the tips you could find helpful to increase your chances of getting translation jobs from translation agencies.

Research your translation agencies

Find out who they really are and to whom your email should be addressed to. If you are sending your message without specifying whom you are sending it to, it is very likely to be sent to the spam folder. Most of your prospects are translation agencies? Try and find out their email address: many translation organisations prefer candidates to fill out a questionnaire on their web site for new translators to contact them. If this is the way they like it and this is how they want to gather data from freelance translators, if you contact them by email, you’re wasting your time.

Find out the type of translation the translation agency does

You need to know what areas of expertise they are looking for in their translators. This will help you create an even more targeted email with a better chance of success. A translation agency will be more interested in receiving an email that says ‘I’m an English into French freelance translator with a degree in civil engineering and more than 15 years’ experience in translating user guides for the automobile industry’ than a standard ‘I translate from English, French, German and Portuguese into Greek’.

Keep the Subject of the email as brief as possible

A great subject, for example, might be ‘English > French translator with many years (15) of experience, specialised in civil engineering’ which is absolutely better than, let’s say ‘French Freelance Translator/Proofreader’ and far better than ‘Seeking opportunity at your esteem company’, often a subject line I receive from misguided translators

Write your message very carefully

If it happens that you are not a native speaker of the language that you are writing into, I suggest that you have a native speaker proof read your copy. Keep in mind: the goal of your email is to persuade your translation agency to open your CV.

Don’t say that you translate from your language – French – into a second language

Doing such a thing will guarantee that the translation company thinks that you are not a professional. Unless you are one of those extremely rare people who are native speakers of several languages, that is to say you are a true bilingual, you should say so but you must be prepared to explain how you became a true bilingual. For example, ‘My mother is French, my father is British, each of my parents decided to speak to me in their native language from my very early age and while I was living in Switzerland, I studied from grade 1 until high school in an international school where most subjects were taught in English.

Mention your language pair and your name within the heading of your CV

For example, “Olivier Den Hartigh, English into French translator”.

Keep your CV as brief as possible

No further than 1 page if you don’t have a considerable experience and no more than 2 pages in other circumstances.

Don’t include your translation rates in your email or your CV

If you want to speak about rates, that should come later.

Do not include any references

Provide them at a later stage if the translation agency requires them.

Ensure your CV is written without errors

Once again, if it’s written in a language that is not your native language, envisage having it proofread.

Localize your CV according to your target

For example, a CV for a prospect who is French should really contain your photo, but not for an American company.

Make sure your CV contains all the information that is important

Forget the irrelevant information. If you have a very small experience, it is all right for your CV to include information concerning other types of work that you have done. As soon as you start having experience in translation, delete the unnecessary information.

Make certain that all the given information you provide in your email and in your CV can be verified

Information you should include in your CV

Your working language pairs, how to contact you, your translation experience, other work that is relevant, education, expertise with certain applications (as an example, CAT tools or DTP programs – don’t mention in the various applications that you know how to use Word or Excel – translation agencies will assume that you know how to work those.

Information you should not include in your CV

Private information such as your age or marital status. If you find out that the translation agency you are targeting usually includes this type of information, I suggest you use your best judgement and decide by yourself whether you wish to include this information or not. Moreover, you should not include information such as your interests and your hobbies unless your hobbies contribute to your area of expertise. For example, “I play golf, that is something I am passionate about and this experience helps me when I translate notices about golf equipment”.

Finally, something utterly crucial:
You must remember that you are the person who decides about your rates, not the translation agencies. In the same way, translation agencies are free to simply accept your rates, or refuse them or try to make you lower those rates. This is simply business.

Translate English to French?

how to speak to french people

Browsing the web in French

The world wide web is a place that most people browse in English. We’re looking for information we’d like quickly and easily as possible but as website designers or professionals, we do not give a second thought to pages in other languages.

Yet, would you believe it? There are many people who don’t speak any English at all. Best of all, they are browsing the web as well, and they are keen on getting content too. Web designers are getting used to this idea. They are currently beginning to provide translations of their sites in different languages. English into French is among the first language, for those searching for website translation. In this article, we’re going to look at the reasons.

French language in the world

Russian is the 4th most commonly desired language on the web after English, Spanish and then French. At any rate, if you are going to select a single language, then French is amongst the ones you want. Despite the fact that France are exposed to English within the EU, most individuals in French possess very little experience of the English language.

English language in France

In France, a lot of people neither speak nor understand English still due to some of the failures of the educational system, and it is very probable that an Internet user looking for French content speaks French only.

However, translating a web site from English into French is not too challenging. As a matter of fact, a variety of tools on-line exist that may provide you with machine translation. Such translations are sufficient to communicate specifics more often than not, but it is clear that they are carried out by a server and not by a human translator.

Acquiring a foreign language isn’t simply a case of applying the correct term – it’s a combination of context, grammar and terminology. Similarly, automated translation, at the moment, that is until AI becomes better at translating, can only exchange properly an English word for its French counterpart.

Regardless, to a person whose French is their mother tongue, the outcome will look inadequate and laughable. In many situations, such unskilful translation will be enough to convey the information you are promoting. However, when you’re translating a web site into another language, it is crucial to think about how professional you want the outcome to be. You also have to consider whether merely exchanging terms between one language to the other will enable you to attain the outcome you want.