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BBQ, Barbecue or Grill—What’s Yours?

With temperatures on the rise in Montreal, it’s time to dust of the old hibachi-fire pit-thingamajig. And, if you’re like me, you’re not sure what to call it. First off, “BBQ” is simply an abbreviation of the term “barbecue,”and can be used as a noun or a verb. Same goes for the other fairly ubiquitous [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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: [...]

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 “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 [...]

Tricky Translations: Don’t Sweat the Tough Stuff

Sometimes I hit a hard patch in a translation that can derail the entire project. Over the years, I’ve developed a few tricks to keep things on track, even when I’m stuck in a rut.   Skip the hard parts – Don’t get hung up on one tough paragraph and watch the hours tick by. [...]

Editor Vs. Translator: When Is It OK to Eliminate a Word or Phrase?

The unspoken expectation behind every translation contract is that the author will find their words—all of them—in the translated text. But as a translator, have you ever run into words you felt were so obvious that they could be left out? I certainly have. Take, for instance, the phrase “Nous profitons de l’occasion,” which translates [...]

To Hyphenate or Not to Hyphenate?

It’s hard to know when to pull out that little dash of ink known as the hyphen. The Chicago Manual of Style offers a mountain of advice on when and when not to employ the punctuation mark, even dictionaries provide guidance on individual words, but, for the average writer, here’s a quicker and easier solution. [...]

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