English French Translation: What to Tell Your French Language Translator
A successful English French translation depends on your French language translator having all of the information he or she needs to do the job right. Here’s a checklist of things to tell your translator. At the bottom, you’ll also find more translation resources, including a translation rate guide. (Were you looking for a free French translation tool?)
Information to give your translator for a successful English to French translation
Providing the right information to your translator can prevent misunderstandings and help make your translation project a success.
Here is some key information your French language translator needs to know before starting work on your English French translation project.
1) Which parts should be translated? If some parts of your document should be left in English (for instance, headings, instructions, quotations), do not assume your translator will figure it out on his or her own. Tell the translator exactly what parts to translate to French and if there are any parts, such as html code, that must not be touched or modified. If the document format permits, we recommend highlighting sections that should be left in the original language or code that should not be modified.
2) How will the translation be used? If your English French translation is for publication, a high level of polish is needed. If the translation will be used for legal purposes, precision is probably more important than the elegance of the language. Is the purpose of the text to inform, to sell something, to entertain? Make sure the translator knows.
3) Who will read the translation? Is it for your customers or your colleagues? For teenagers or senior citizens? Will it be part of a technical report for engineers or an instructions manual for consumers? This information will affect the vocabulary, style and tone that your translator chooses.
"If there are abbreviations, spell them out for the translator. And if you can provide a glossary -- technical glossaries are invaluable. Or it doesn't have to be a formal glossary: you could just provide a similar document that has already been translated."
- Lindsay Gasser, German, Dutch, and French to English Translator
4) Where will the translation be used?
Is it for French Canada, for France, for other French-speaking parts of the world, or should the translator keep the French as "neutral" as possible for a global audience? This information may impact the translator's vocabulary choices.
5) In what format you want to receive the French translation? Typically, an English to French language translator will maintain or copy the formatting of the original English document, returning a translation that is a "mirror image" of it in French. But if you don't tell the translator about your formatting requirements, there is no telling what you will get. In some cases, for instance, if you are translating a list of short phrases for a website, it may be more convenient for you to receive a bilingual document with the English and French side by side. Let the translator know what you want.
"If [the translation clients] have a website, sending the website link is important. For example, let's say they're a construction company, and the text is about cement blocks. The translator can go to the website and see what technology they use, see what the work consists of and get a global vision. It can be hard to translate a text without knowing the context, so the website becomes important.
Sometimes clients will also have an internal company glossary. This is often difficult for them to send because it's confidential, if they have an enormous terminology database, but it can help the translator a lot.
So the website and the glossary are important, and I'd also include any translations that they've done previously even if these aren't on exactly the same subject -- translations in the same combination of languages so that the translator can get a bit of an idea about their preferences."
- Perrine Souffez, French Language Translator and Project Manager
6) Have you done similar English French translation projects in the past?
Do you have access to similar texts in French? If so, then providing these to your translator for reference can be extremely helpful. If you would like the translator to stay consistent with the terminology or style of other specific translations, then you can request this.
Click here for a list of questions to ask your French language translator before starting the translation project.
Click here for information about average English French translation prices
View a list of all English French translation pages
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