French to English Translation with Culture in Mind
Posted on November 7, 2012 by Chris
French to English Translation is a complex and multidimensional undertaking – one that should not be left to the devices of a French English dictionary, an online French translator, or a French to English translator without the cultural knowledge necessary for creating a quality English product.
Increasingly, French-speaking citizens and companies are looking for ways to break into English-speaking markets, but without the awareness of the stark cultural differences between French-speaking and English-speaking countries, the quality of the product can be compromised.
It’s only natural that the original writer, in his or her native language, will make certain cultural assumptions. This is perfectly acceptable – even desirable – when speaking to fellow countrymen and women; however, this can cause confusion for the new target audience.
Here are a few examples of source-language assumptions that might be made:
- In one culture, a particular behaviour may be widely accepted – or even encouraged. When that behaviour is referenced or endorsed in a document and then the writing is translated without the cross-cultural knowledge necessary for recognising a potential target-language audience problem, communication difficulties will arise.
- Historical events that are common knowledge in the native country are spoken of in a matter-of-fact manner, without the elaboration or explanation that might be required when speaking to readers and/or listeners who are not familiar with the culture that the historical event has helped to shape. This can cause reader confusion, which will negatively affect the response that the writer desires.
- Every culture has underlying prejudices and stereotypes, whether its members would like to admit it or not. When writing in a source language, the writer may unknowingly (or knowingly) play to these preconceptions. His or her fellow nationals will be unlikely to notice this; however, it will stand out blatantly to members of another culture, and could do serious damage to the reputation of the source author.
- Unwritten hearsay or traditions are a part of every culture. Often, these elements seep into writings and pose a potential problem for an unskilled French to English translator.
Network Languages understand that French to English translation can feel like a daunting task, particularly if you dwell upon potential stumbling blocks like those listed above. It is not our intention to scare you away from French to English translation or to develop an unhealthy suspicion of French to English translators. We would, however, warn against using a French English dictionary or automated French translator – and would recommend hiring a French to English translator who is fluent in both languages, who understands the cultural differences that exist, and who is skilled in the industry niche to which the writing caters.
In most cases, simple language translation isn’t enough – but you should have no worries. Network Languages have the comprehensive skills necessary to translate French to English without muddling the message with cultural faux-pas. Contact us on (+44) 1344 870700 or send us an email with your questions. We would be more than happy to discuss your French to English translation needs, including cultural considerations.