10 Scary Words to Avoid

Syllabus Montreal TranslationWith Halloween right around the corner, let’s take a look at some terrifying terms that are better off buried in the terminology graveyard than in our translations.

At first glance, these spooky words might sound important, but they’re just a sign of lazy writing.


1. Utilize: Is there any difference between this term and the shorter, friendlier “use”? I think not.

2. Formalization: Spelled with an “s” or a “z,” it’s still a dragon you want to slay. What on earth does it mean—the act of making something formal? Please, there must be a better way.

3. Declension: If you’re trying to translate “se décliner” with this noun, stop right there. All that comes to mind are Latin verb inflections—scary stuff indeed. Opt instead for phrases that people actually use, like “This product is available in (or comes in) three colours” or “We offer a range of products.”

4. Functionality: I especially hate this term in the plural as “functionalities” when “features” is clearly the better choice.

5. Solution: Everything’s a solution these days. Here’s an idea, tell me what your solution is, and I’ll decide if it fixes my problem. In IT, “software” is often the word you’re looking for.

6. Learnings: Nouns become verbs quite nicely in English. Moving in the other direction sometimes creates a monster. Frankenstein would be proud of this one. How about “what I learned” or simply “lessons”?

7. Innovative: Your writing is no longer innovative if you litter it with this word.

8. Ecosystem: Are we talking about wolves in the Pacific Northwest or a particular industry? Hard to say.

9. Operationalize: When “do” just isn’t enough.

10. C-level: If you’re tired of translating “cadres supérieurs” as “senior management” and want to add some jargon to your text, look no further.

What words scare you?

© angkanasu

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