Sound Advice

Sound advice for (French) translation buyers

All the pros (because there are no cons) of trusting a professional translator with your reputation and all the cons (because there are no pros) of cutting corners. Translation: Getting it Right is a short and very easily digestible publication which says it all. Free to download

In a nutshell:
Should I translate everything?
Think “international” when you write your content
How much does translation cost?
How important is style?
“I can probably do this myself”. Think again!
What about machine translation?
How to make the most of your translator
What makes a good professional translator
The importance of proofreading
And many examples…

Layer 14All you ever wanted to know about buying translation

Translation: Getting it Right is a short and very easily digestible publication which says it all. Free to download

To download the guide for free, please click below.


Things you need to know when you need a translation into French

  • French can be longer than English, by about 25%. However, a skilled translator will always opt for concision and clarity. If it is essential that the French text is the same length as the English, for DTP reasons, then don’t forget to tell the translator. Do bear in mind, when designing websites with buttons and tabs, that some individual French words are simply longer and abbreviating them would look messy. For example, the English verb “to book” is “réserver” in French, “login” is “connexion”.
  • French sentences are structured differently. French doesn’t like many instances of “and” in the same sentence and is pretty intolerant of repetitions. Be prepared to see French sentences start by the end of your English sentence, more synonyms instead of repetitions, different punctuation, etc.
  • French punctuation is different. A space before a question mark, exclamation mark, semi-colon, colon or percentage symbol is correct in French, so don’t delete them as typos! It is also very important that such spaces are non-breaking so the punctuation symbol doesn’t end up at the start of a line. Do you know how to do a non-breaking space in Word? Simply hold down the Ctrl and Shift keys as you press the Spacebar.
  • Accented letters (diacritics) DO matter, because without them words lose their meaning completely or take on a different meaning. Often, clients send letters for translation asking me to add the accents to the names because they don’t know how to get them on their computer. In Word, just go to Insert > Symbol and they’re all there. On an iPhone or iPad, just hold down the ‘e’ for example and all the accented options will appear.
  • French can be more formal than English. In English business correspondence, it is perfectly standard to write ‘Dear John’ even if you’ve never met John in your life. Try writing ‘Cher Michel’ to a Michel you have never met and he could be quite offended. A good translator will pick up on that and ask what your relationship with Michel is before addressing him by his first name on your behalf. Similarly, closing remarks in correspondence can be long and convoluted in French as opposed to the simple ‘Kind regards’ in English.

Things you need to know when you need a (French) translator

  • A good professional translator is a skilled craftsman or woman, not a miracle worker. A freelance translator is likely to have another project in progress when you need something translated, time really does matter. The solution? Build the translation into your workflow from the start. Don’t leave it until your English copy is finished and there’s only 2 days left before you need to send it off. Make contact with the translator, talk about the project so any issues can be ironed out at the outset, have a date in mind for the translation and stick to your own copy deadline; all will go very smoothly and stress-free. I know, the world isn’t a perfect place and sometimes a translation requirement is urgent. A good professional translator will have a reliable network to call upon and will help you find a solution.
  • A translator who asks a lot of questions is a good professional translator, not a pain in a body part. Their success in delivering top quality translations will depend a great deal on your willingness to help by answering questions and providing reference material when available.
  • You’re not buying a bag of sugar, you’re buying a translation service. The price of translation doesn’t fluctuate like that of sugar or coffee but it does not stagnate either. Many factors come into play such as the type of text, the purpose of the document, the time-scale, the subject matter and more. Do worry if you contact a company who gives you a price per word without asking any questions other than ‘how many words?’. Most translators will have a basic rate, often based on a price per word, but then that rate will change according to all the factors mentioned earlier. Expect a price per project in many cases but whatever the scenario, the Spanish inquisition at the enquiry stage is a sure sign of a professional translator.

Looking for a friendly professional French translator or simply some advice on a translation project?