Volume 12, No. 3 
July 2008


M. Seren-Rosso


Front Page

Select one of the previous 44 issues.


Index 1997-2008

TJ Interactive: Translation Journal Blog

  Translator Profiles
On Becoming a Translator
by Salvador Virgen

  The Profession
The Bottom Line
by Fire Ant & Worker Bee
Everything’s Comin’ up Roses (with apologies to Stephen Sondheim)
by Bernie Bierman
Navigating in a New Era: Translators in the Age of Image and Speech
by Eileen B. Hennessy
Supply and Demand Analysis of Patent Translation
by Yvonne Tsai

  In Memoriam
A Farewell to Vera—In Memoriam Vera Maria Conti Nogueira: 1944 - 2008
by Danilo Nogueira

  Nuts and Bolts of Translation
Übersetzung deutscher Nominalkomposita aus der Fachsprache der Technik und Analyse typischer portugiesischer Entsprechungen
Katrin Herget, Holger Proschwitz
Proper Names and Translation
by Samira Mizani

  Translators Around the World
The Influence of the Market on Translating—A Tentative Study of the Market-oriented Translation in China
by Tian Chuanmao

  Scientific and Technical Translation
Mini-Guide to Translating French Documents
for English-Speaking Markets (with general tips for other language pairs and writers of EFL)

by M.L. Seren-Rosso

  Cultural Aspects of Translation
Translating Sexuality: The Translation Industry and Adult Websites
by Sathya Rao

  Literary Translation
Corpus-based Study of Differences in Explicitation Between Literature Translations for Children and for Adults
by Shih Chung-ling

  Translator Education
Bibliografía comentada sobre Traducción e Interpretación para estudiantes
Pablo Muñoz Sánchez
Individual Differences in the Translation Process: Differences in the act of translation between two groups of ESL Japanese students
by Atsushi Iida
El análisis crítico de traducciones literarias en la formación de traductores
Dra. Beatriz MĒ Rodríguez Rodríguez

  Book Reviews
Book Review: A Companion to Translation Studies
by Esmaeil Haddadian Moghaddam
Book Review: The Locas mujeres poems of Gabriela Mistral
reviewed by Liliana Valenzuela

  Translation Theory
Meaning: The Philosopher's Stone of the Alchemist Translator?
by Maite Aragonés Lumeras, Ph.D.

  Translators' Tools
Translators’ Emporium

  Caught in the Web
Web Surfing for Fun and Profit
by Cathy Flick, Ph.D.
Translation and Participatory Media: Experiences from Global Voices
by Chris Salzberg
Translators’ On-Line Resources
by Gabe Bokor
Translators’ Best Websites
by Gabe Bokor

Call for Papers and Editorial Policies
  Translation Journal


Mini-Guide to Translating French Documents
for English-Speaking Markets

(with general tips for other language pairs and writers of EFL)

by M.L. Seren-Rosso

ranslation should always be viewed as a chance for improving public relations. This applies to all types of written supports, whether service manuals, technical specifications, annual reports or conference papers. By adopting the right practices, it is possible to monitor language conversion in the same way as any manufacturing or engineering process.

Plan from the start for the target readership. Bilingual magazines, especially displayed or printed side by side, are "going out." If a document cannot be directly generated in English, steer the French or other master version toward a more fluid translation by standardizing vocabulary, deleting obscure cultural references and limiting acronyms (where unavoidable, these should be translated or explained at least once in the target language, in boxes or on dedicated abbreviations pages). For non-native readers, simplified English may be necessary.

Personalize style and design for each type of document. Don't think in terms of just translating. A manual, for example, is intended for use on the job, in parallel with other tasks. Its layout and content should mirror this constraint, along with the level of user competency—domain specialist, technician, general public. Keep out words or phrasing that do not contribute to understanding. In contrast, warnings and safety instructions should be amply repeated.

Save time and money by reducing prose in favor of visuals. Make writing modular, with standalone information chunks, to facilitate subsequent revisions/changes. Set up translation memories and other electronic archives to store and reuse repetitive sequences. As a further aid, show the company organization chart, complete with approved English department names and job titles, in a location visible to translators. Such efforts help impose a corporate style.

Comply with good sense grammar and formatting. The key to correctness is CONSISTENCY. Follow the trend away from antiquated grammar rules (note the decline of the comma!). Respect parallelism, in sentences, headings and verb forms. English prefers verbal to noun-based constructions and active to passive voice. Keep paragraphs short. Use compact lists to avoid stringing out sentences. Create tables to permit easier vertical comparison of numerical data (with white spaces as column/line separators).

Promote readability by providing suitable cues and crossreferencing throughout. Headings and subheadings (no more than a few levels) afford vital reader guidance in larger documents with frequently overlapping subject matter. So do indexes, which are often missing, for instance, from French books and manuals. Add html links wherever they are likely to accelerate online lookups.

For an end product that conveys real meaning, encourage adaptation: the source text should never be a straitjacket! Good writing does not draw attention to itself. But it should be lively enough to sustain reader interest. Foster close consultation with translators in finalizing documents.

Perfect your publications through systematic feedback. Develop validation networks in the target zone or country. Advertising and press copy should always be vetted by native speakers with appropriate subject knowledge and a feel for language issues. Where time-to-market is short, test key elements as a minimum, and push back deadlines if required to guarantee quality. Make random checks of all other translated material. Foreign-sounding prose of any kind in English tells the customer he doesn't matter...

A skilled translator may point to weaknesses in your original language version. Consider his questioning attitude a precious asset. Many authors have found that translation leads to improved source-language documents, too.