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Dietitian Vs. Nutritionist—What’s the Diff?

There’s a big diff, actually. Just ask a dietitian how they feel about being called a nutritionist—you’ll get an earful! What’s a nutritionist? When translating the French term “nutritionniste,” resist the temptation to put “dietitian” in English. Though both professions deal with diet and nutrition, in Canada the terms are vastly different. In fact, the [...]

How the Heck Do You Spell “Ton”?

Editing Canadian English has its perils. In particular, the heavy influence of American English is hard to ignore. I recently stumbled across the word “ton” in a Canadian text and thought—how the heck do I spell that? I investigated and found that, as always, context is everything. Here’s the breakdown: Ton In Canadian English, this [...]

US and Canadian Style Differences: The Asterisk

When it comes to editing, the devil is in the details. The job gets even tougher when you’re editing Canadian texts because the rules are almost the same as for American ones, but sometimes they differ by a hair—or a single space. That’s where the asterisk comes in. According to The Canadian Style, you should put a [...]

How the Heck Do You Spell Mother’s Day?

Don’t let bad grammar take the heartfelt sentiment out your note to Mom this Sunday. Like me, you may wonder where the apostrophe goes—is it Mother’s Day or Mothers’ Day? As is often the case, Google the word and you’ll get a ton of spelling options: Mother’s Day, Mothers’ Day and even the apostrophe-free Mothers [...]

The Word on the Street Is . . . Welcome

Yesterday a waitress gave me a heartfelt “welcome” when I thanked her for the plentiful portion of cracked-pepper poutine that she placed before me. She wasn’t the first Quebecer I’ve heard drop the standard “you’re” that most anglophones are accustomed to expect. And I’ve come to the conclusion that’s it’s another classic Montreal‑ism—derived from a [...]

Why “Poisson d’avril” Is Not “April Fish”

Most people would agree conceptually that word-for-word translations are not the way to go, yet so many clients go looking for the original French in the English translation just to make sure nothing was left out and no mistakes were made. This could potentially lead to better translations if the client and translator work as [...]

How Do You Translate “Animer”?

In English, when I hear the word “animate,” the first thing that comes to mind are cartoons. And yet this term worms its way into many a translation—even my own if I’m not careful. The French term “animer” looks seductively similar to the English term “animate,” when in reality, the two couldn’t be further apart. [...]

When Does “Plus ou Moins” Mean Less, Not More?

When I’m on a roll with a translation and I spot the French phrase “plus ou moins,” my fingers automatically type “more or less,” while my brain jumps ahead to the next part of the sentence. And often, that’s okay. But not always. I recently came across the following situation, where “plus ou moins” certainly [...]

How Do You Translate “Fort de”?

Sometimes the trick to a better translation is right in front of your nose. Take, for instance, the French expression “fort de.” I often run across French sentences that begin with “fort de son succès” or “fort de son experience”—especially when I’m translating résumés or bios. And while it may be tempting to slap a [...]

How Do You Translate “en Amont”?

If you look up “en amont” in the dictionary, you’ll find that it literally translates as “upstream” in English. Chances are that’s not the translation you’re looking for, unless the subject is marketing, hydropower, or trout fishing. That said, the term “upstream” can help you get a handle on this tricky French term. Imagine a [...]

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