Tuesday, July 28, 2009

French to English: Spa, Part 2


When more and more spa services are introduced into a full service package, does that mean that spa owners are confident that customers will go for most of them (if not all) no matter how much they cost?  Spas appear to be trending upwards with newer product offerings.  They boast of modern equipment and methods learned from the oldest and most reputable European aesthetic and personal care  salons. 

The International Spa Association says that spa services fall under any of these 10 domains:  water (hydrotherapy), nourishment (special menus), movement (soft and vigorous exercises), touch (massage), integration (wellness and balance principles), aesthetics (facials and other facial-related services), environment (location), cultural expression (beliefs and personal preferences), social contribution (community orientation), and time/space rhythms (natural lifestyle).

On one spa web site, a service called chromalift was listed.  My research led me to a description:  it's a non-surgical face lift.  This spa recommends a minimum of three sessions.  A decreased number of worry lines, improved skin tone and texture, and healthy glow are some of the benefits of a chromalift.

Another web site describes chromalift as a treatment using light therapy.  Good quality light is directed to specific points  of the face and body and this serves as the "lifting" portion of the treatment.

What, may I ask, is wrong with using the old-fashioned loofa?

If ISPA statistics are an indication of the public's fascination with spas, it matters less that they work or produce the desired results; what matters more is that spa sessions are the equivalent of pampering and relaxation that are richly deserved, given the amounts of stress our bodies are subject to.  If going for an expensive spa treatment makes a man and woman feel good, then a spa has its own noble mission.

ISPA says that 1 in 4 Americans have gone to a spa, and that there are over 32 million active spa patrons.  It is no surprise that more than $10.9 billion in revenues came from the US spa industry in 2007 alone!



balnéothérapie balneotherapy
bain de siège sitz bath
mésure du pli cutané caliper test
cuve de flotation flotation tank
approche holistique de la santé holistic health approach
exercice istonique isotonic exercise
kinésiologie kinesiology
gant pour friction en luffa loofah friction glove
maturopathie naturopathy

A bit of trivia for you:  there are steam baths all over the world.  In Turkey, they're called hammam.  In Japan, they're called sento (communal baths).

Friday, July 24, 2009

French to English: Spas, Part 1


It used to be that facials and massage were the staples of spa salons, but today we're hearing about new services that are added to the "spa menu."  As the list of offerings grows, the terms get harder to pronounce!



In her article describing the history and evolution of spas, Julie Register said that in 2001, there were over 9,000 spa locations in the United States alone.  For the 1995-1999 period, spas grew at a rate of 21%.

Sign of the times?  Are we more stressed? Do we have more disposable income to spend on personal luxuries (seems like a stupid question considering the present economic crisis), or are we looking back to our ancestors and trying to duplicate their lifestyle?  After all, the concept of the social bath was practised by the ancient Greeks, Egyptians and Romans. 

Did you know that an international organization called the International Spa Association (ISPA) represents about 83 countries and claims to be the voice of the spa industry?  Their mission is to spread the word "by providing invaluable educational and networking opportunities, promoting the value of the spa experience and speaking as the authoritative voice to foster professionalism and growth."

The ISPA web site http://www.experienceispa.com/about-ispa/ is worth a visit.  If you're thinking of starting a spa business, this site is a valuable source of information and tips. We'll take some nuggets from the web site and talk about them in our next two posts.  In the meantime, let's get some of those spa terms for you (some are on the slideshow):



bain bouillonnant (ou bain tourbillon) whirlpool bath
enveloppement de boue mud wrap
pédicurie pedicure
manucure (ou soin des mains) manicure
massage facial facial massage
aromathérapie aromatherapy
luminothérapie light therapy
blanchissement des dents teeth whitening
traitement chromalift chromalift
massage aux pierres chaudes hot stone massage
massage suédois Swedish massage
exfoliation aux sels marins spa salt scrub
exfoliation et enveloppement reminéralisant scrub and mineralizing wrap
bain de vapeur steam room

I found this joke on http://longhairguyintexas.blogspot.com/2005/11/10-massage-therapy-jokes-one-good-one.html:


In my next blog, more spa terms and a visit to ISPA's site!

Monday, July 20, 2009

French to English: Annual Reports, Part 3

This is my final instalment on French to English terms  used in company annual reports.

I said in an earlier blog that I've read a few good annual reports in my lifetime but there's one that stands out.  Call me biased.  My favorite one so far is that of Johnson & Johnson. 


(image courtesy of www.Wikipedia.org)

My late father used to work for J&J and he'd bring home the annual report every year.  I remember that one evening  vividly.  He opened his brief case, took out his pharmaceutical notes and put the annual report on his night table.  I picked it up absentmindedly, interested only in the glossy photos.   (I was in my early 20s then and could hardly call myself an annual report reader).  I was just going to leaf through the pages and then put it back on my father's night stand right away.  He always read company stuff before retiring for the evening. 

What happened was I ended up reading the J&J annual report cover to cover. 

It was their Credo that hooked my attention.  They used the English language in its "mostest simplicity." Simple words that conveyed strong beliefs - and honesty. 

The J&J Credo states that the company's primary responsibility is to the doctors, nurses and to the men and women who use the company's products.  Their final responsibility is to the shareholders.  It wasn't long-winded.  It was direct.  It was eloquent. 

Two and a half decades later, I am happy to know that the J&J Credo has not changed.  My father would have been pleased as well.  Robert Wood Johnson drafted the Credo in 1943 before the company went public.  You can view the video and read the text here:  http://www.jnj.com/connect/about-jnj/jnj-credo/.

Let's tackle those terms now:



ratio de la marge d'exploitation net profit ratio
principes comptables généralement reconnus (PCGR) generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP)
système de mesure des indicateurs de rendement (SMIR) key performance indicators measurement system (KPIMS)
carnet de commandes order backlog
nombre d'actions ordinaires number of common shares
ratio de la dette rajustée adjusted debt ratio
gestion des risques risk management
structure du capital capital structure
cotes de crédit credit ratings
instruments financiers dérivés derivative financial instruments

My last six blogs were on legalese and annual reports.  I think it's time to shift gears and look at those terms that both men and women like to treat themselves to, purse strings permitting:  the SPA! 

Come visit and get a terminology massage treat!

Friday, July 17, 2009

French to English: Annual Reports, Part 2

I get amused with one phrase that 99% of annual reports have:  "forward-looking statements" (énoncés prospectifs in French).

annualreports2 The way I understand it, forward-looking statements are, in a nutshell, predictions of future performance.  United States law stipulates that forward-looking statements cannot be considered as facts; rather they must be predictions or "readings" into future possibilities.  To ensure that such predictions are not taken as absolute, words like "believe", "estimate", "may", "should", "expect", "could" and others are used. 

For the sake of investors, companies need to make forward-looking statements so that investors don't withdraw their investments and go with the competition.  After all, investors are in it for the money.  They want the assurance that the company has bright prospects and that it will continue to be profitable.



excédent brut d"exploitation EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization)
rentrée de fonds cash flow
valeur comptable book value
total de l'actif (or actif total) total assets
biens immobiliers et éequipement property and equipment
billet portant intérêt interest-bearing note
avoir des actionnaires shareholders' equity
capitalisation boursière market capitalization

Respect for the environment has sent companies scrambling for ways to save paper and to reduce waste.  Companies now offer investors and other interested parties to view annual reports and balance sheets online.  You may have also received notices from your brokers or investment managers asking if you still wish to receive statements and reports, and how often you want to receive them.

Preparing annual reports is a long process.  Because it is a more formal method of communicating with people outside the company, preparing it demands time, money and resources.  For serious investors, it is a document they look forward to receiving once a year.  It is one way they keep tabs on the company and how much it made in any given quarter. 

There's probably two disadvantages to annual reports:  one, it gives competitors the information they need for purposes of strategy, and two, companies who suffered setbacks in the year just ended still have to produce an annual report.  Thank the securities regulators for that requirement.



produit de la vente sales proceeds
rendement du capital investi (RCI) return on investment (ROI)
action à vote multiple multiple voting shares
action à droit de vote subalterne subordinate voting share
dividendes dividends
immobilisations capital assets
revenu net net income
gouvernance d'entreprise corporate governance

annualreports4 Writing annual reports can be a lucrative source of income for freelance writers.  Writers charge per hour or per project.  Hourly rates go from $40.00 (low end) to $150.00 (high end).  As for projects, fees can range from $2,500.00-$3,000 (low end) to $15,000 (high end).  Of course companies will easily find writers who charge in the mid range.

And how much can translators make to translate an annual report?  A few will charge a fixed project fee, many charge on a per word basis (from $0.08 to 0.35 - low to high).

Not bad!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

French to English: Annual Reports, Part 1

If you're a shareholder of a company, you regularly receive the financial statements and annual reports without the need to request for them.  And if you're not a shareholder but are interested in knowing how a company performed in the last year because you're thinking of investing, you call their Investor Relations Department and request financial reports.  annual reports1 Or you can consult an independent financial analyst like Hoover's or Bloomberg's (your broker is also a possible source) and read what they have to say about the company's financial health.  Many companies also post their annual reports on their web site.  In official bilingual countries like Canada, companies publish their annual reports in both French and English.




rapport annuel annual report
profil de la société corporate profile
compte de résultats consolidé consolidated income statement

How many of you read the annual reports that arrive in the mail?  Those who have a keen interest in the company's performance or who bought a significant number of shares would probably read the annual report from cover to cover; others would scan it without eyeballing the figures while others would simply tuck them away. 

For most people, however, annual reports are like legal documents (a.k.a. "boring").  They're standard compliance reports that companies must submit to securities regulators once a year. 

I've read very few annual reports over the years.  I read them not because I'm a numbers freak, but because they caught my attention.  Let's face it, how many annual reports are written in a very engaging manner with simple but effective English?  Even annual reports of creativity-oriented companies like advertising and marketing lack a certain something.

An annual report must go beyond the concept of financial reporting; it must tell a compelling story.  Readers should feel that they're reading a true story, not learning a foreign language.



intégration des bénéfices non-répartis consolidated retained earnings
revenus revenues
gains nets net earnings
bénéfice net par action net earnings per share

The Annual Reports Library (http://www.zpub.com/sf/arl/arl-tips.html) say that annual reports contain 9 sections:  (a)  chairman's (or president's) message, (b)  sales and marketing, (c)   financial highlights, (d)  management discussion and analysis, (e) auditor's statement, (f) financial statements, (g) subsidiaries, brands and addresses, (h) directors and officers and (i) stock price.  Items (e) to (i) are required.  The Securities and Exchange Commission requires (d) and financial analysts, according to the Annual Reports Library, insist on item (i) - stock price.



message du président du conseil d'administration chairman's message
marketing et ventes sales and marketing
points saillants financial highlights
rapport de gestion management discussion and analysis
déclaration du vérificateur auditor statement
états financiers financial statements
filiales, marques et adresses subsidiaries, brands and addresses
directeurs et dirigeants directors and officers
cours de l'action stock price

More annual report terminology in my next blog!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

French to English Legalese, Part 3


This is our final instalment on legalese.

legal Yes, we realize that legal lexicon is expansive and we could easily create a blog exclusively for legal terminology, but that would take the fun out of our vocabulary-building efforts for numerous other domains of activity.  We're just starting! 

We have yet to cover IT, Psychology and other social sciences, cyberspeak, marketing, the film industry - the entire gamut of professions and trades that have built their own reservoir of words and phrases.

We promised earlier that part 3 would not mean an end to a series.  When we did flowers, health conditions, and baby items, we said we'd go back to them and continue from where we left off.  So, we intend to tackle more legalese in the future.  For those of you who want more legal terms in French and English, stay tuned!

Let's finish this thread.



exception de litispendance (lis alibi pendens) plea of suit pending elsewhere
juridiction d'exception jurisdiction of an exceptional court
acte en forme exécutoire instrument ready for enforcement
jugement exécutoire enforceable judgment
à la condition expresse que... on the distinct understanding that...
faute délictuelle transgression committed with the intention to harm someone
certificat fiduciaire trustee's certificate
le bien-fondé d'une demande the merits of a case
en foi de quoi in witness whereof
garantie étendue comprehensive guarantee
grève patronale lock-out, turn-out
droits de greffe registry dues
hypothèque en premier rang first mortgage
incommutabilité de la possession absolute ownership
inadmissible inadmissible; out of the question

How about some legal humor?  Here are two from http://www.re-quest.net/g2g/humor/lawyer-jokes/index.htm:

(1)  A defendant was asked if he wanted a bench trial or a jury trial. "Jury trial," the defendant replied. "Do you understand the difference?" asked the judge. "Sure," replied the defendant, "That's where twelve ignorant people decide my fate instead of one."

(2)  An attorney ran over to the office of his client. "I can't believe it!" said the angered attorney, "You sent a case of Dom Perignon to the judge in your case? That judge is as straight as an arrow. Now we're certain to lose this case!" "Relax," said the client, "I sent it in the prosecutor's name."


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

French to English Legalese, Part 2

law1 Legal documents are intimidating.  When you have a lawsuit and your lawyer writes procedures,  you want to scrutinize them with a fine-toothed comb to make sure you understand what is being said (or alleged) in the procedure. 

But if you aren't involved in any lawsuit, these legal procedures become less interesting.   Your tendency would probably be to set them aside or merely scan them with some indifference.  This indifference could be due to the legal terms and phrases that permeate through the documents of which the lay person knows very little about. 

When I was a paralegal, some people asked me why legal documents were too cumbersome to read.  Like it or not, legalese is something that's here to stay.  Legal language is so steeped in tradition that there has been little deviation from the way lawyers and judges communicate, especially in writing.  In declarations for example, it is common for lawyers (or paralegals) to start with the word "whereas", wherein certain conditions are outlined before presenting the facts of the case.  That hasn't yet been replaced by the more modern phrase "Given that" or "taking into account."  Somehow it's a lot easier and more customary to simply say "whereas."

Below are some legal phrases that you've probably come across before.



à bon droit lawfully, rightfully
à la condition que provided that
à peine de under penalty of
advenant in the event of something happening
avant dire droit injunction, provisional, interlocutory judgment
bien fondé merits of a case, claim
ci-après hereafter
ci-dessous hereinafter (or herewith below)
consigner par écrit to write down
débats judiciaires proceedings, hearings
detente fiscale tax cut
en tout état de cause whatever the situation, the legal situation

An interlocutory judgment is a judgment that is issued by a judge during hearings or proceedings. It is not a  final judgment. . It is provisional - temporary - until the judge hears all evidence submitted.

My lawyer-boss often took me to examinations for discovery (interrogatoire préalable) which were frequently held in lawyers' offices.  Lawyers from both camps are law2 present along with their clients.  There is a stenographer who takes down the entire examination and then submits the transcription 24-48 days later.  To me these were enlightening sessions; I enjoyed listening to the tit-for-tat among lawyers.  An examination for discovery (also called examination on discovery or oral examination) is a lawyer's right to question the adverse party prior to a trial.  It is one way for lawyers to collect information (or proof) which they can present to the judge during the actual trial in a court of law.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

French to English Legalese, Part 1

For this blog and the next two blogs, we'll take a new theme - law.

legalese1 I used to work as a paralegal in a small Montreal litigation firm.  Despite the firm's size, there were numerous procedures to write for the lawyers' signatures and eventually, for pleading before the judge.  Writing legal procedures was a challenging task but I enjoyed it immensely. 

It was while I worked as a paralegal that I was forced to hone my French to English skills.  I managed well at the written and verbal levels, but the auditory level was where I had to roll up my sleeves and do some hard work.  I would sit with my boss at the judge's chambers and try to make sense out of the arguments and counter-arguments.  My first six months as a paralegal was an uphill battle, all because I was rusty in the listening department.   I had to stop listening to English radio and switch to a French radio station just to get les oreilles used to listening to the sounds. 

At first I thought that if I could read, write and speak some French, I'd have no problem listening and understanding.


It was a rude awakening.  Listening was a different ballgame - I stumbled often especially when I had to do a lot of listening in a court of law!

I remember one morning when my boss was arguing before His Lordship about a case.  He paused and then looked at me.  Even the judge had his eyes on me.  I wondered if it was my posture so I shifted my weight, feeling suddenly ill at ease.   Then he whispered something to the judge and walked towards me. 

"Didn't you hear?  I need to show the affidavit!"

"Ah, the affidavit.  Yes of course."

The province of Quebec is the only province that uses Civil Law, which is patterned after the legal system of France.  The other Canadian provinces operate under Common Law after the British legal system.

A look at some of those French to English terms:

disposition générale general provision
tutelle légale legal tutorship
curatelle curatorship
dissolution et liquidation des personnes morales dissolution and liquidation of legal persons
prestation compensatoire compensatory allowance
demande et la preuve application and proof
union civile civil union
renonciation renunciation
testaments wills
testament olographe holograph wills
droit au partage right to partition
propriété property
usufruit usufruct
servitudes servitudes
fiducie trust
compte annuel annual account
consentement consent

Legal translation can be tricky.  The idea is to consistently think "context."  Depending on the context, the type of law (insurance, divorce and family, banking, maritime) and the circumstances, various terms may apply.  Take "property" as an example.  It could be propriéte or des biens (collective) or domicile

In legal translation, context should be the deciding factor when choosing the appropriate equivalent.  This rule is valid as well for other domains of activity.


Thursday, July 2, 2009

French to English Lexicon: Herbs and Spices, Part 3

Before we continue with our third and final set of spices, I want to ask you, have you heard of epazote?  If you've spent time in Mexico, you've probably eaten this spice without knowing it was in your dish.

240px-Epazote The first time I learned about it was when I was reading on spices at the library recently.  I came across Sandra Bowen's article about epazote on the web site called "a pinch of".  This is the link: http://www.apinchof.com/epazote1089.htm.

If you think epazote is a funny name, Ms. Bowen asks if you'd rather call it by its other names:  skunkweed, pig short, wormseed or goosefoot.  Let's stick to epazote, shall we? 

How do you pronounce it?  She says, "say eh-pa-zo-tay".  It sounds more French than Mexican to me!

Epazote has a lemony flavor and is used by Mexicans when they make fish, beans and corn dishes.  They use it liberally when they make tortillas/quesadillas and it complements the taste of other spices like Mexican cumin, oregano and chilis.  If you go to Ms. Bowen's web site, she has a couple of recipes there that you can try.  One of them can be made a day ahead for maximum flavor.

Let's get those French and English spices for you:



hysope hyssop
laurier bay leaf
bourrache officinale borage
cerfeuil chervil
ciboulette chive
épazote epazote
mélissa-citronnelle lemon balm
citronnelle lemon grass
amandier à amandes amères bitter almonds
graine de céleri celery seed

I love Thai soups with lemon grass and coconut milk, by the way.  Think I'll have Mexican beans with epazote this Saturday, and then lemon grass soup on Sunday.  I already have a can of coconut milk (lait de coco in French) on standby!