Technical corner

That and which

June 3, 2013

Which or that?

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Posted by céline on June 3, 2013
Technical corner

Translating "vous" and "tu" in English

May 10, 2012

Examples of translations of "vous" and "tu" in English

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Posted by céline on May 10, 2012
Technical corner

Translation techniques: compensation

December 6, 2010

Compensation allows a translator to transfer a stylistic difficulty into another section of the text

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Posted by céline on December 6, 2010
Technical corner

Comma splice

March 1, 2010

Comma splice in English: examples of bad use and links on correct punctuation.

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Posted by céline on March 1, 2010
Technical corner

Proofreading translations

September 3, 2009

I had an excellent dinner at Brasserie Blanc on Tuesday night, but I was very disappointed by the quality of the menu's French translation. Time to call a professional translator to the rescue? Menu translation is extremely tricky: the vocabulary...

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Posted by céline on September 3, 2009
Technical corner

Bone of contention

August 28, 2009

Why a picture of apples on an entry dedicated to the expression "Bone of contention", you wonder? Well, that is the beauty of translation: you start with a bone and end up with an apple. Let me explain. I...

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Posted by céline on August 28, 2009
Idioms, Technical corner

The abuse of reflexive pronouns

March 10, 2009

I am not a pedant. I wouldn’t dare, as my knowledge of grammar isn’t 100% perfect. I accept that people have different ideas about what constitutes good usage and that a lot of them think that, as long as effective...

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Posted by céline on March 10, 2009
Technical corner

The end of the line for the semicolon?

April 4, 2008

The semicolon is facing grave danger. Let's save it! Unfortunately I have no time to explain why we should, as I'm fighting with boxes and work in equal measure. I'd still like to hear what you think....

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Posted by céline on April 4, 2008
Technical corner

Compared with

March 6, 2008

How do you translate compared with in French? You have several options, but beware of the loan translation! The past participle of the verb to compare can be used as an adjective at the beginning of a sentence. It creates...

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Posted by céline on March 6, 2008
Technical corner

Kindle on Kindle

November 21, 2007

Office buddy Paul blogs about the launch of Amazon’s ebook reader, called Kindle, like his company. This new mobile device leaves him very sceptical and I share his sentiment. The digital format may be conquering the world of music, but...

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Posted by céline on November 21, 2007
Technical corner

Landfill sites: English - French glossary

October 22, 2007

I've been doing a lot of work in the field of waste management during the last few years. In preparing for interpreting jobs I found very few bilingual resources, particularly when it comes to specific terminology. I thought I'd share...

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Posted by céline on October 22, 2007
Technical corner

Ceci and cela

August 2, 2007

A reader alerted me to the fact that in my French translation of yesterday’s entry, I used ceci dit incorrectly. This is what I had written: Toutes ces raisons sont valides, mais ceci étant dit, je ne donne jamais de...

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Posted by céline on August 2, 2007
Technical corner

Words ending in -berry

June 11, 2007

I was interpreting last week and I got really stuck at one point. What was it? When our host mentioned photovoltaic solar systems? Was it when he pointed out the groundsource heat pump or went into great detail in...

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Posted by céline on June 11, 2007
Technical corner

The gender of nouns

May 22, 2007

The Cutty Sark has been destroyed by a fire. This morning on the news, the journalists were obviously referring to the ship as a "she", which didn’t surprise me. However, this reminded me of a conversation I had a few...

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Posted by céline on May 22, 2007
Technical corner

Lorsque and elision

May 14, 2007

This blogosphere lark is a tiny, tiny world. In doubt as to when exactly the word lorsque qualifies for an elision (lorsqu’Arnold or lorsque Arnold?), (hey, be indulgent, it’s Monday!) I found this extremely useful page on elision, which reminded...

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Posted by céline on May 14, 2007
Technical corner

Translation and proofreading

May 2, 2007

I often receive emails from readers asking me about translation and being a freelance translator. I thought that I would share some of them, along with my responses, as they might be of interest to other people. Antonia asked me...

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Eurodicautom is dead, long live IATE!

March 20, 2007

Sorry about the lack of posts, I've been extremely busy lately, but I can definitely see a faint light at the end of the March tunnel. I just heard this morning on a translators' discussion list that IATE (Inter Active...

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Posted by céline on March 20, 2007
Technical corner

RSS feeds

December 19, 2006

Who says I never listen to my readers and fellow bloggers? You'll now find not one, but TWO RSS feeds on the right hand side of this blog....

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Posted by céline on December 19, 2006
Technical corner

Guest bloggers: second language acquisition and bilingual language processing

November 21, 2006

Psychology of Second Language Acquisition by Daniel P. Auld One debatable aspect of second language acquisition is when is the ideal time for second language instruction to begin. Lenneberg was the first to discuss the critical period for language acquisition,...

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Posted by céline on November 21, 2006
Technical corner

Typographical marks

November 3, 2006

What do a pilcrow, an interrobang and an ampersand have in common? They’re all typographical marks and they’re all described on answers.com. Very interesting....

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Posted by céline on November 3, 2006
Technical corner

Incineration: bilingual glossary

September 26, 2006

Either you’re a translator or an interpreter working in the field of waste management, and more precisely, of incineration, and you’ll love me for this entry, or you aren’t, in which case I’m surprised you’re still reading. I had lots...

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Posted by céline on September 26, 2006
Technical corner

Is French more formal than English?

August 28, 2006

A reader has written to me asking interesting questions about English, French, work and which language is more formal. I have replied to question one, but as I’ve never worked in an office and have no experience of relationships with...

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Posted by céline on August 28, 2006
Technical corner

Grammatical mistake?

July 27, 2006

Paul and I have had a debate about the following copy. I think there's a grammatical mistake in it, Paul thinks it looks like a mistake but sounds right, and hence isn't really a mistake. His client agrees with him....

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Posted by céline on July 27, 2006
Technical corner

How to organise your emails

July 14, 2006

What would I do without Lifehacker? And I only discovered it two days ago (thanks, Tom!). This piece on how to empty your inbox and manage it efficiently has helped me revolutionise the way I organise my email (before: a...

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Posted by céline on July 14, 2006
Technical corner

Why is Menzies pronounced Mingis?

January 13, 2006

I was surprised to see in my statistics that a lot of people ended up here looking for an answer to the above question. Why such a difference between the pronunciation and the spelling of Mr Menzies, one of the...

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Posted by céline on January 13, 2006
Technical corner

Colon or semi-colon?

January 9, 2006

“You love your semicolons, don’t you?” This comment by Paul, who I had asked to check a sentence that looked wrong to me, led to a discussion on the use of this useful punctuation mark. I was absolutely unable to...

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Posted by céline on January 9, 2006
Technical corner

Online data backup

November 15, 2005

I tried for a long time to work out the best way to save my data. I was terrified that I would turn my computer on one morning and hear it implode (it happened to me once) and lose the...

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A mysterious engraving

September 28, 2005

A reader wrote to me asking for help. Some time ago, he found a 15th century finger ring, which turned out to be a treasure and is now in the British Museum. There is a double inscription on the ring...

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Posted by céline on September 28, 2005
Technical corner

Punctuation IS everything

September 15, 2005

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Posted by céline on September 15, 2005
Technical corner

I woz hacked

August 17, 2005

To David (you didn't leave your email address in the feedback form, so I can't reply to you) and others who might have been worried when a blank page showing "spykids ownz you" replaced this site between 4:30am and 9:30am:...

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Posted by céline on August 17, 2005
Technical corner

Guest blogger: Linguistics and translation

May 27, 2005

By Jim Tyson I'm not a translator, I'm a linguist, so my question is, can linguistics tell human translators anything useful? I think it can. Most linguistic theories involve several levels of analysis of text (I use text here to...

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Posted by céline on May 27, 2005
Guests, Technical corner

Ci-joint

May 13, 2005

I've always been puzzled by the use of the expression "ci-joint" (enclosed, as in "please find enclosed…") in French; does it need to agree with the noun it is linked to or not? Checking again today, I realised that I've...

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Posted by céline on May 13, 2005
Technical corner

Are you thinking what I'm thinking?

May 5, 2005

I really, really hope Michael Howard won't be our new Prime Minister tomorrow. Why? Because I can't stand the way he pronounces the letter 'l'. Have you ever heard him talk? Have you heard him say the word people? Now...

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Posted by céline on May 5, 2005
Technical corner

Guest blogger: Accent and pronunciation

April 29, 2005

By Ricard Giner Has anyone noticed that people confuse "accent" with "pronunciation" or am I alone in thinking that there is a meaningful distinction? I will explain. Often people say, of a person who is not a native speaker of,...

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Posted by céline on April 29, 2005
Guests, Technical corner

The gender of proper nouns

February 11, 2005

A colleague contacted me for help. She had to translate a sentence containing "Alaska", and was wondering how to deal with its gender. Her dictionary was telling her that Alaska is masculine, but she thought it should be feminine, as...

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Posted by céline on February 11, 2005
Technical corner

Enrichment

November 5, 2004

I've already mentioned a technique called enrichment (or stuffing, as Anthony likes to call it). I use it all the time, mainly because of English prepositions: they are very supple and flexible, which makes them difficult to translate using French...

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Posted by céline on November 5, 2004
Technical corner

Pronunciation issues

October 18, 2004

This weekend I was given a great little book, Schott's original miscellany, by Ben Schott, "a unique collection of fabulous trivia." The first article I read was about curious surname pronunciation. Here are a few examples: As written As pronounced...

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Posted by céline on October 18, 2004
Technical corner

Negative auxiliaries

September 30, 2004

<rant> I find the way in which people tend to treat the French language in English books and films bewildering. Today, I finished The Da Vinci Code, by Dan Brown, which is set in France for the most part, and...

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Posted by céline on September 30, 2004
Technical corner

Dangling participle

July 19, 2004

I had never heard of a dangling participle and wouldn't have thought I'd learn about such a fine grammatical point while subtitling an episode of American Dreams, but there you go. A dangling participle is a participle that doesn't modify...

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Posted by céline on July 19, 2004
Technical corner

Synecdoche

June 25, 2004

Here's a sentence from a recent translation with a good example of a synecdoche and how I chose to deal with it. The context is a football tournament involving schools from different countries: All the games were played in good...

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Posted by céline on June 25, 2004
Technical corner

Language register

April 28, 2004

To accurately translate a document, it's not enough to convey the meaning. It is absolutely crucial to pay attention to its language register to make sure the tone is also kept. This aspect is part and parcel of a text...

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Posted by céline on April 28, 2004
Technical corner

Inverted commas

March 31, 2004

Going around my local shops yesterday, I noticed the following sign outside my butcher's: "fresh" chicken legs I don't quite understand what they wanted to achieve here with these inverted commas. When they don't introduce a quote, inverted commas are...

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Posted by céline on March 31, 2004
Technical corner

Reflexive pronouns

March 24, 2004

Is it me or are reflexive pronouns used in an increasingly incorrect manner? I'll admit that this is one abuse of grammar that makes me want to reach for a chainsaw annoys me slightly. Consider these examples: "My mother, my...

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Posted by céline on March 24, 2004
Technical corner

Transposition

March 10, 2004

HEALTH WARNING: do not proceed with reading this entry unless you are interested in translation theory in its driest form. Your brain might switch itself off in protest. Last week, I translated a documentary on the Trojan wars, and I...

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Posted by céline on March 10, 2004
Technical corner

Less and Fewer

February 20, 2004

"Have you heard what Mike Tomlinson said?" Gabrielle was clearly annoyed. Mike Tomlinson used to be Head of Ofsted (Office for Standards in Education) and is currently reviewing the A-Level system. As a teacher, she was probably concerned about the...

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Posted by céline on February 20, 2004
Technical corner

Semicolon says yes to gay marriage

February 18, 2004

Margaret Marks, of Transblawg, reports this interesting story of how a semicolon scuppered conservative groups' plans to stop gay marriages in San Francisco (via SFGate.com): Two judges delayed taking any action Tuesday to shut down San Francisco's same-sex wedding spree,...

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Posted by céline on February 18, 2004
Technical corner

Borrowing

February 11, 2004

I had a problem recently with the term "mule". Within the context of drug trafficking, a mule is a person who carries drugs in her or his body across frontiers. In French, the term "passeur" or "passeuse" can be used...

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Posted by céline on February 11, 2004
Technical corner

Adaptation 2

February 4, 2004

Good old Flintstones, keeping me on my toes and helping to provide a better example of adaptation. Fred, following a series of events that would be too complicated to describe here, ends up giving Wilma the ring Barney bought for...

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Posted by céline on February 4, 2004
Technical corner

Adaptation

January 8, 2004

Lorelai: I kept information from you. Rory: Information that I should have had. Lorelai: It would’ve come out eventually, Like the Iran-Contra Scandal. Rory: So you’re Oliver North. Lorelai: No, I’m Fawn Hall. Rory: Mom. Lorelai: She was much prettier...

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Posted by céline on January 8, 2004
Technical corner

Acronyms

December 15, 2003

Acronyms are often a headache for translators: do you keep the original acronym or do you create a new one from your translation of the name of the organisation? It all depends on how well-known the said organisation is. The...

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Posted by céline on December 15, 2003
Technical corner