Category Archives: French Language

The Anatomy of a Great Legal Translation – 7 Basic Tips

law and legal compressed
A translation can make or break a legal case. Therefore, when clients approach translators, they want to be assured that the work product will enhance their chances of being successful. Following are some quick tips that will help to put you on the way to providing a great legal translation.
1. When providing legal translations, unless otherwise instructed, do not reproduce images such as photos, letterheads, logos, emblems, coats of arms, stamps, seals, signatures, etc. Instead, refer to the image in the target language in square brackets. For example, describe a stamp as [Stamp] if the target language is English or use the corresponding word in the target language. Immediately beside or below this, in the target language, provide a full description of the text within and surrounding the image.
2. Portions in source documents that are handwritten should be noted as handwritten in the translations. If handwritten portions are illegible, they should be noted as [illegible handwriting] in the target language; e.g., [letra ilegible] if the target language is Spanish.
3. Always make sure the appropriate Bates number appears on each page in the translation in the place where it is located in the source file. This also applies to other numerals and marginal notes.
4. Even though you will not be reproducing images, the layout, formatting and pagination in the translated file should always be as similar as possible to the layout, formatting and pagination in the source file.

When clients approach translators, they want to be assured that the work product will enhance their chances of being successful.
When clients approach translators, they want to be assured that the work product will enhance their chances of being successful.

5. Normally, names and addresses should not be translated. In the first occurrence of each name and/or address, leave the original name and/or address in the source language and if applicable, place the translated name and/or address in square brackets next to it. For each subsequent appearance, keep the name and/or address in the source language. For example, the Spanish translation of The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) should be rendered as The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) [Departamento de Vivienda y Desarrollo Urbano de los EE.UU, o HUD, por sus siglas en inglés]. This should be done in the first instance only. After that, use the name in the source language alone, unless there is a change to the name. It is not appropriate to put the translation first and the source text after.
6. Do not leave electronic comments for your clients in the translation. Translate the document as accurately as possible and if absolutely necessary for clarification purposes, place your comment at the end of the document after the words “Translator’s Note.” You may use footnotes that refer to specific areas of the text or endnotes if your comments generally refer to the entire source file. Otherwise, send your comment(s) to your clients in your email, along with the delivery.
7. Never be pressured by anyone to add to or subtract from the meaning of the source text in your translation. If you cannot see it, it probably is not there. While it is acceptable to be flexible to accommodate preferential changes, your legal translation needs to accurately reflect the source document.

Translator’s Guide to Handling Client Complaints

Continue reading Translator’s Guide to Handling Client Complaints

Celebrating Eight Years

We are truly grateful to everyone who has played a significant role along the way.

We are in the eighth month of 2014 and this is our eighth year in business. As we celebrate new beginnings (eight is the biblical number of new beginnings), The Language Shop is abuzz with activity as we make plans for our Eighth Anniversary Thanksgiving Service and Awards Ceremony to be held on Saturday, August 23rd at 7:30 p.m. in Queens Village, New York and everyone is invited. There are so many things to do.

We are forging ahead with invitations and plans, crossing off things on our “to do” list, taking care not to miss a single detail. We will be proudly displaying our Company’s banner during the ceremony. We will also be awarding certificates and tokens to our local and national independent contractors who will be acknowledged for their loyalty to the Company and our clients over the years.

In addition, special mention will be made in absentia of some of our overseas team leaders, project managers, translators, interpreters, editors, proofreaders, transcriptionists and desktop publishing designers based in Argentina, Brasil, Cameroon, Egypt, France, Mexico and the United Kingdom whom we have hand picked from our providers in every time zone and from every continent and who have contributed to our success through their continued and loyal partnership and commitment to excellence.

In the meantime, things continue to be busy at The Language Shop as we field inquiries and fulfill orders from clients seeking desktop publishing/design, transcription and translation services into and from various languages such as Arabic, Amharic, Burmese, Chin, Dinka, Farsi, Filipino, French, Juba Arabic, Karen, Karenni, Kirundi, Nepali, Nuer, Sakha, Simplified Chinese, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tigrinya, and Traditional Chinese.

Ever since the Company’s inception, The Language Shop has created and upheld a reputation for working with as many languages as there are speakers in the world, especially the rare languages. We have employed all sorts of creative means of contacting linguists who can provide these language services. It has been an exciting journey as we have engendered and maintained relationships with experts in all kinds of specialty areas from varying cultures and with varying modes of expression. We are truly grateful to everyone who has played a significant role along the way.

Film Review – Film Review: Joyeux Nöel [Merry Christmas] directed by Christian Carion (2005)

I enjoyed the fact that Joyeux Nöel is trilingual.
Recently, I had the ultimate pleasure of watching “Joyeux Nöel” [MERRY CHRISTMAS], nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 78th Academy Awards, on cable. Not a lover of war movies at all, I was more than pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed this film. This was perhaps because it possessed many, if not all, of the traits that impress me in a movie. It is unusual that I would go as far as to consider viewing the film another time since I find that the theme of war in films is generally one of the most unpleasant.

However, Joyeux Nöel contains enough goodwill and comedy to ease the tension associated with the subject material and to maintain a positive tone throughout the film. I enjoyed the fact that Joyeux Nöel is trilingual. Music, custom, scenery, costumes and the English, French and German languages spoken throughout the film all depict the three respective cultures of the soldiers fighting in the war. In addition, the subtitles are written in British English and this also provides a refreshing treat! Even religion has its place as Father Palmer, the Anglican priest, presides over a service during which music plays a key role in the film with heart warming singing by Nikolaus Sprink and Anna Sorensen. The soldiers sing popular songs of their countries amidst the sound of the bagpipe and harmonica.

The film provides an education in history since it is based on a true story. The director was inspired when he discovered a book entitled “Battles of Flanders and Artois 1914-1918” written by Yves Buffetaut that covers the sequence of events surrounding World War I that broke out in the summer of 1914 and culminated that same Christmas Eve when the war became more deadly and the soldiers decided to call a truce for Christmas.

For a brief moment, the viewer is able to tune out the horrors of war or at least cope. I experienced a great deal of mirth while watching the soldiers leave their rifles in their trenches. Enemies shake each other’s hands; they exchange cigarettes, champagne and chocolate and wish each other “Merry Christmas.” I found myself laughing out loud several times during the film and I was filled with strong feelings of optimism to see the soldiers of the three different nationalities sharing moments of peace and friendship.

On Christmas Day, the officers enjoy coffee together, bury their dead and challenge each other to a football match and even when they shelter each other during artillery barrages on both sides, they are aware that reality is yet to be faced. The soldiers must later face their superiors as they return to their own trenches. When news of the fraternization across lines leaks out, the commanders worry that it could hamper the war effort, and take extreme measures to put a stop to the fragile peace. The troops are replaced because they have been tainted by the experience.

I was shocked when Father Palmer is harshly criticized by his bishop who remonstrates with him quoting the scripture that Jesus “did not come to bring peace but a sword.” The bishop later tells the new recruits that they are in a crusade, a holy war for freedom. Father Palmer removes his cross and rejects the views that are so inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus.

Director Christian Carion stated that “the film has more than a European dimension for me. It has a humanistic dimension. In my opinion, anyone on the planet would be touched by the fraternizing that went on, not just the German, English and French. That’s why I’d like to show the film in a country that is at war.”

If you have not seen this film, I recommend that you do. I for one will be seeing it again as soon as possible.

Film Review – Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets (2000)

I recently enjoyed watching the award-winning foreign film, Ali Zaoua: Prince of the Streets (2000), set in Casablanca, Morocco and directed by Nabil Ayouch, on Netflix.

I was initially disappointed to find that French subtitles were not available in the DVD I received so I viewed the subtitles in English. I had no complaints about the Arabic to English translation, even though generally speaking, I believe that for cultural reasons, Arabic to French translations of films more effectively convey meanings than do Arabic to English translations. French culture has been influenced by and is more akin than English culture to Arabic culture and moreover, French is commonly spoken in Morocco and Arabic more commonly spoken in France, where Ayouch was raised.

The film is not your usual children’s fantasy tale but rather a roller coaster of events of the deepest intensity that depict the lost innocence of homeless youth in Casablanca. It is fraught with contradictions in that it leaves you feeling depressed in one moment and smiling or even laughing for a short moment. Ali has chosen to run away and live like a pauper during his very short life while ironically, his mother lives in reasonably comfortable surroundings. She has done everything possible to make his life comfortable. Yet, the only problem is that she’s a prostitute.

As the title suggests, the film is about Ali Zaoua and his dreams of living a seafaring life where two suns set in different places. Early in the story, Ali receives a fatal blow to the head with a stone and his death shakes Kwita’s world. Nevertheless, Kwita becomes the new leader of the glue-sniffing, homeless trio of boys with men’s faces. The focus shifts to Kwita’s pursuit of Ali’s dreams, with the help of Omar and Boubker. It’s a story of loyalty. Kwita never abandons his devotion to Ali and declares that he will give Ali a burial suitable for the prince that he is. Omar and Bobker go along with the plan, regardless of the obstacles they encounter along the way.

Ali Zaoua is a story of defiance and triumph over adversity and oppression. Ali, Kwita, Omar and Boubker have extricated themselves from the control of Dib, the disgusting deaf-mute leader of the large pack of boys whom he has recruited and abuses sexually and otherwise, on a constant basis. Even though hatred, fear and despair can be felt as Dib’s minions show up repeatedly heralded by the pathetic mantra they repeat: “Life is a pile of shit,” Ali’s three survivors overcome and maintain their emancipation from Dib and his gang. They survive on the streets from day to day by begging, working, stealing and nurturing dreams and fantasies of their own. Most of all, they manage to hide and preserve Ali’s body, even though he has been dead for at least three days by the time they get help with their plans to bury him.

In the end, the compass given to Ali by Hamid, the compassionate boat captain, and subsequently, to Kwita by Ali represents a return to the right course as Hamid takes Ali’s body and allows the three boys to spend their first night on the deck of his boat. The boys are hopeful as they fantasize mostly about what Ali Zaoua must be doing. The story seems to have a happy ending when, witnessed by Dib and his gang, Hamid takes Ali’s mother along with all three boys out to sea to give Ali a proper burial.

Obstacles Encountered When Translating Rare Languages and How to Overcome Them

We were recently asked to translate three documents from English languages of the worldinto thirteen languages, including:

*        Arabic

*        Amharic

*        Burmese

*        Chin

*        Farsi

*        French

*        Karen

*        Karenni

*        Nepali

*        Somali

*        Spanish

*        Swahili

*        Tigrinya

Such a request is not unusual and whether or not the volume of the project is high, no effort should be spared to satisfy the client.

Before the project was confirmed, we had to evaluate and provide a proposal for the job. Two of the documents were in Microsoft Word and one was in Excel. Even though we have hundreds of vendors in our database, the search had to be fine tuned to meet the specifications of this particular project. A translator and editor/proofreader with expertise in the respective specialty area had to be assigned for each language.

Following are some of the usual concerns that need to be addressed when working with rare language translations:

1) Finding language service providers who are dedicated to quality and not to simply collecting payments. No matter how tried and true a vendor is, we have a saying at the office that “you are as good as your last screw up.” Admittedly, this sounds cynical and puts a great deal of pressure on the agency and on the vendor. However, the translation industry is one in which only excellence is good enough. Therefore strict quality assurance standards must be adhered to at all times.

2) Finding vendors who can work within clients’ budgets. Bidding on projects can be very competitive. A very important factor that clients take into consideration when selecting a language service provider is budget. Bearing this in mind, the right balance must be maintained, on the one hand by asking the client to pay enough to be able to ensure the required quality while on the other hand by asking providers to be willing to negotiate in order to be successful in landing the project.

3) Meeting deadlines. One of the biggest challenges that can be encountered during the course of a translation project involving rare languages is delayed responses due to differences in time zones and other technical factors beyond providers’ control. Some examples are loss of phone or internet service, power outages due to electrical storms and other situations that range from mild to disastrous. From the very outset of the working relationship, as far as possible, language service providers must be made to understand the importance of maintaining constant contact from the time they submit their proposals up to and including after delivery has been made to the client.

4) Ensuring that instructions are understood and carried out. Communication problems can occur, among other reasons, if English is not the native language of the language service provider and there can be other challenges if providers do not share the same work ethic as the project manager. At times a linguist may appear to agree with instructions provided, only to display behavior that proves otherwise. However, the project manager must see to it that instructions are understood and carried out.

5) Making sure that the client is satisfied with delivery. Very often the characters used for rare languages are different from those used in English and it is not unusual for them to be garbled in file formats such as Word and Excel. Therefore, along with those deliverables, pdf files should be provided so the client will be able to properly view the characters in the translations. In addition, the fonts used should be provided. Files should be zipped in a format that the client will have no difficulties opening. At times, a font installer may have to be sent to the client so that the client will be able to work with the foreign Microsoft Office files.

At the end of the day, whether a project is assigned to twenty-six different linguists or to one language service provider, the quality must be such that the client will keep coming back.

Obstacles Encountered When Translating Rare Languages and How to Overcome Them

We were recently asked to translate three documents from English into thirteen languages, including:

*        Arabic

*        Amharic

*        Burmese

*        Chin

*        Farsi

*        French

*        Karen

*        Karenni

*        Nepali

*        Somali

*        Spanish

*        Swahili

*        Tigrinya

Such a request is not unusual and whether or not the volume of the project is high, no effort should be spared to satisfy the client.

Before the project was confirmed, we had to evaluate and provide a proposal for the job. Two of the documents were in Microsoft Word and one was in Excel. Even though we have hundreds of vendors in our database, the search had to be fine tuned to meet the specifications of this particular project. A translator and editor/proofreader with expertise in the respective specialty area had to be assigned for each language.

Following are some of the usual concerns that need to be addressed when working with rare language translations:

1) Finding language service providers who are dedicated to quality and not to simply collecting payments. No matter how tried and true a vendor is, we have a saying at the office that “you are as good as your last screw up.” Admittedly, this sounds cynical and puts a great deal of pressure on the agency and on the vendor. However, the translation industry is one in which only excellence is good enough. Therefore strict quality assurance standards must be adhered to at all times.

2) Finding vendors who can work within clients’ budgets. Bidding on projects can be very competitive. A very important factor that clients take into consideration when selecting a language service provider is budget. Bearing this in mind, the right balance must be maintained, on the one hand by asking the client to pay enough to be able to ensure the required quality while on the other hand by asking providers to be willing to negotiate in order to be successful in landing the project.

3) Meeting deadlines. One of the biggest challenges that can be encountered during the course of a translation project involving rare languages is delayed responses due to differences in time zones and other technical factors beyond providers’ control. Some examples are loss of phone or internet service, power outages due to electrical storms and other situations that range from mild to disastrous. From the very outset of the working relationship, as far as possible, language service providers must be made to understand the importance of maintaining constant contact from the time they submit their proposals up to and including after delivery has been made to the client.

4) Ensuring that instructions are understood and carried out. Communication problems can occur, among other reasons, if English is not the native language of the language service provider and there can be other challenges if providers do not share the same work ethic as the project manager. At times a linguist may appear to agree with instructions provided, only to display behavior that proves otherwise. However, the project manager must see to it that instructions are understood and carried out.

5) Making sure that the client is satisfied with delivery. Very often the characters used for rare languages are different from those used in English and it is not unusual for them to be garbled in file formats such as Word and Excel. Therefore, along with those deliverables, pdf files should be provided so the client will be able to properly view the characters in the translations. In addition, the fonts used should be provided. Files should be zipped in a format that the client will have no difficulties opening. At times, a font installer may have to be sent to the client so that the client will be able to work with the foreign Microsoft Office files.

At the end of the day, whether a project is assigned to twenty-six different linguists or to one language service provider, the quality must be such that the client will keep coming back.

Inch’Allah dimanche (Sunday God Willing) Yamina Benguigui, 2001

I recently enjoyed watching Inch’Allah dimanche, a French/Algerian film with English subtitles on Netflix. Even though there is some violence in the film, it is very easy to watch as the plot flows fairly smoothly. However, I wished the subtitles had been available in French and not just in English because I feel French subtitles better capture Arabic meanings than English ones.

Inch’Allah dimanche is the story of Zouina, a young Algerian wife, who, accompanied by her husband’s mother, Aicha, along with her three children, travels to France to be reunited with her husband, Ahmed who has been away from Algeria for quite some time. The departure from Algeria is heartrending and extremely traumatic for Zouina and her beloved mother who are both inconsolable as they separate.

Zouina’s form of dress gives one the impression that Algerian customs are relatively liberal in comparison with those of other Muslim countries where women are almost completely covered up in floor-length dresses, burqas, hijabs and niqabs. However, it soon becomes clear from the oppressive treatment she receives from her husband and mother-in-law that her feelings are not taken into consideration and there is not much difference. In fact, when Zouina, Aicha and the children finally arrive in France where the remainder of the film is set, Zouina’s husband never once shows her any sign of affection, apart from a cold, perfunctory hug when he picks up his family to take them to his apartment. If the viewer is looking for some show of tenderness between them, it never happens, which is surprising because Zouina is so attractive.

Throughout the film, Aicha’s words and behavior show how attitudes toward religion seem to play a vital role in family relationships among these Algerians. She constantly pronounces judgment on Zouina’s behavior and invokes Ahmed’s physical punishment upon her to “curse the devil.” At the boat, she shoves Zouina and upbraids her for showing emotion and for tearfully running toward her sobbing mother. As if her despair at having to leave her mother is something evil, Aicha asks Zouina if she has no shame or fear of God.

Zouina is able to enjoy very little interaction with the outside world, except to visit the grocery store and listen to game shows and talk shows on the radio when Aicha is not turning it off. However, determined to overcome the severe restraints on her life and freedom, she endures the constant verbal and physical abuse of her tyrannical mother-in-law and husband. “Damn you” are words he repeats to her upon her every infraction. She leaves viewers on the edge of their seats as she constantly risks further abuse by waiting until her husband and mother-in-law have left and constantly stealing out of her home with her children on Sundays to visit the outside world, knowing full well that such behavior is strictly prohibited.

The most pathetic part of the movie is when Zouina finally meets her fellow Algerian, Malika, whom she has expended every effort and risked her very life to see. She shares her new found ideas of freedom with Malika who, rather than being inspired, becomes very afraid and orders Zouina out of her home, accusing her of trying to have her killed. Malika’s internal conflict is evident as she tearfully stands behind the door, obviously torn apart while Zouina screams and cries for her to let her back inside and not to abandon her like this.

There seems to be no real dénouement and the story appears to end abruptly on a note of hope when Zouina arrives home with her children in the bus driven by a young man who passes her house everyday. She meets Ahmed and Aicha waiting outside with the neighbors and friends after having returned some four hours before with the sheep they have been checking on every Sunday to ensure its readiness for the upcoming Eid celebration. Ironically Zouina is holding the key that will let them inside the house. Instead of punishing her, as recommended by Aicha, Ahmed smiles at her and Zouina tells the children that from now on she will be taking them to school.

In the long run, Inch’Allah dimanche is a story of the triumph of the human spirit over oppression and the willingness to make the ultimate sacrifices to achieve a dream or desire.