“Do you do French translation?”

“Do you do translation work?”

“The passport you hold doesn’t have anything to do with your competence as a translator; nor does the language that you learned in your infant environment” (David Bellos).

Dictionaries are tools. They don’t deliver all the answers.

When I had to translate into French a 16-page newsletter for a leading British engineering company the challenge was high. My curiosity too.

How reliable were my language skills?

How specific the text?

How precise my dictionaries?

How about using online translation tools?

It was a difficult job. And the opportunity to think about what it means to translate; what it is to bring some content — either technical or literary, over the “language barrier”.

I built a glossary of technical terms with some options for each term or sentence.

I asked an engineer of the company who worked in France to check it. It was interesting: the best technical dictionaries were often wrong. The language used every day onsite by French technicians, engineers and managers was different. They were the readers of the newsletter.

I am not a translator. I am committed to getting things convincing and relevant.

I care about words and texts in French – my mother tongue and in English – a second language.

I know that quality matters.




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  1. Rachel Henke
    5 years ago

    So true! Anyone who has tried to use online translation and then had a native speaker read it back to them knows how important it is to get things done properly by a professional.

    Great blog. 🙂