7 Things about French Translation Your Boss Wants to Know

Intérieur d’un livre restauré

All translation is not created equal. Translating from English to French is not the same thing as translating from French to English. Likewise, translating English to German is not the same as translating French to German. Translators may use similar techniques, but that’s where it ends. Here are some facts about French to illustrate these differences.

  1. French is at least 30% longer than English. That is, it takes up more space than English.
  2. French has fewer words than English, which means you need more words to describe the same things. This also makes French longer.
  3. French has genders for its nouns and really emphasizes the difference between genders; this can complicate translations of software, patient information and really anything.
  4. French (France) is not the same as French (Canada), but they are mutually intelligible. It’s like English (US) and English (UK). When you choose a translator or translation agency, make sure they know where you’re publishing your document.
  5. French (France) has the Académie française. Quebec has the Office québécois de la langue française. These organizations maintain the language and aim to reduce the influence of other languages, mainly English, on the vocabulary. This can influence new words and how terms are translated.
  6. French is more abstract than English; things can be vague when being translated from French to English. For technical translation and medical translation, this can pose a significant challenge.
  7. French is an official language in about 29 countries. Again, this means: know your audience.

Photo: Frédéric BISSON


JLS Language Corporation offers high-quality translation services in Silicon Valley and beyond. We help bridge communication gaps in our diverse world, working in multiple languages and for many different industries, including medical, technical, and legal. JLS services include translation, interpreting, and website or software localization. Our Quality Management System is certified to ISO 9001 and ISO 13485.

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