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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 [...]

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 [...]

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 [...]

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