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Is “Gift” a Verb?

’Tis the season of giving . . . and gifting. And while many folks on the interweb are quick to proclaim that “gift” is not a verb, I’m here to set the record straight. It is indeed a verb. The issue is whether it’s too ugly to use. In an article on the subject, the [...]

10 Scary Words to Avoid

With 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 [...]

What to Do with a French Name in an English Text?

The long and the short of it is that there are no hard and fast rules. How you handle French organization names in English-language texts will often depend on the intended audience. Once you’ve determined who and what the text is for, use the tips below to come up with a plan. • If there’s [...]

Editing Your Translations: Size Matters

Part 3 – Getting rid of adjective pile-ups In part 1, I suggest using adjectives—or nouns functioning like adjectives—to shed some pounds from your weighty translations. While this tip often works wonders, once in a while it leads to some nasty adjective pile-ups. Here are a few examples where things get ugly—and some solutions. French: [...]

Editing Your Translations: Size Matters

Part 2 – Getting rid of awkward possessives In part 1, I suggest using the apostrophe—and the possessive—to trim the fat off your translations. While it’s a great tip that I use all the time, keep in mind that sometimes opting for an apostrophe can create awkward phrases. Here are some examples where the apostrophe [...]

Editing Your Translations: Size Matters

Part 1 – Getting rid of “of” Ever notice that English texts are almost always shorter than their French equivalents? That’s because English is generally a concise language, especially compared to French. It’s good to keep this in mind when translating. The length of your final text can be a good indication of how much [...]

How Do You Translate “Rayonnement”?

Lately I keep stumbling across this French buzzword that’s a real nightmare for translators. Why is it so tough to translate? Because there is no all-encompassing equivalent in English.   French: Vitrine sur le monde et rayonnement English: A window on the world and exposure French: Elle a énormément œuvré pour le rayonnement international de [...]

How Do You Translate “Intervenant”?

The French term “intervenant” translates literally as “one who intervenes.” Sounds easy enough, until you ask yourself—what on earth does that mean? I’m still hoping to find an English-equivalent, catch-all word that will serve as the perfect translation for this ambiguous term, but until then, context is everything. Ask yourself, who is intervening? How are [...]

How Do You Translate “Dynamique”?

Ever notice how Montrealers tend to use knee-jerk translations? Take “dynamique” and “dynamic” for instance. We often see “dynamique” in French to describe a person or a place, but the word “dynamic” pops up much less in English—at least outside of Quebec. Changing “que” to a “c” is quick but it’s not very creative, nor [...]

How Do You Translate “Disponibilité”?

The most obvious translation of “disponibilité” is “availability,” but it may not be your best option. Take, for instance, the phrase “Quelles sont vos disponibilités?” I’ve seen it translated as “What is your availability?” or worse as “What are your availabilities?” But I’ve never heard an anglophone say that. Instead, opt for something simple and [...]

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