Sunday, August 30, 2009

French to English: Wine, Part 1

Terroir - this is one word that does not get translated into English.  Most English wine books you come across  use it because some writers say that the English doesn't quite capture the essence of this French word.

Terroir is the mirror, the total outcome, the all-encompassing description of wine.  It tells you a long story - the people, processes, soil and harvest - that come together beautifully producing a drink that acts like an eternal stimulant for wine lovers.  wine part 1

It is this whole idea of terroir that explains why no two wines are ever the same.  It's up to each person to define how simple or complex wine is.  You can look at it from the purely physical perspective - that of a flavorful but subtle blend of the yeasts, sugar and alcohol on your taste buds.  Or you can look at it from the perspective of a particular moment in history and of the soil upon which that moment occurred.

I was surprised to learn that even if wine is made all over the world these days, majority of the world's vineyards are clustered around in that part of the northern hemisphere between the 32° and 51°, and between the 28° and 42° of the southern hemisphere.

It is no wonder then that some of the best wines come from old regions like the Bordeaux, the Rhône Valley, and Tuscany.  They enjoy more than 220 hours of sun a month with temperatures ideal for growing grapes with just the right amount of rainfall (600 mm). 

If we understand how geography and climate affect the quality of wines, we begin to grasp the essence of terroir.  Getting the right terroir will produce that unmistakable and magnificent blend of acid, sugar, fruit flavors and tannins.  Wine experts are aware that if wines come from vineyards where there is a happy balance of heat, water (as from a lake or coastline) and altitude (for coolness), those wines are likely to be top shelf quality.



production de vin wine production
consommation de vin wine consumption
hectoliters hectolitres
établissement vinicole winery
les cepages grape varieties
vinification wine-making techniques
vin corpulent full-bodied wine
grande garde age worthy
vin moyennement corsé medium-bodied wine
intensité des arômes fruités fruit flavor intensity
vignoble vineyard
la taille et le palissage de la vigne pruning and wine training
labour plowing
taille d'été summer pruning
traitements spraying
débourrement bud break
premier feuillage first foliage
la floraison flowering
la véraison veraison
la chute des feuilles leaf fall
le danger du gel frost danger
entretien du vignoble vineyard maintenance
vendanges harvest

In Part 2, we'll look at a video and give you more French and English terms.  À votre santé!

Or simply:  chin-chin!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

French to English: Information Technology, Part 3

How naive of me!

When you think of information technology, what comes to mind?  My first impression is "hardware."  When I was a corporate employee, I thought of our IT Department as a large, dark room with the words "authorized personnel only" in large blocks of letters on the door.  To me, IT personnel walked around with their own esoteric bag of terms, detached from the outside world and more cables concerned with modules, maps and fiber optic cables twisted and mangled inside a locked room.  The fact that I didn't mingle with the IT crowd explains part of my ignorance. 

Note I said that I equate IT with hardware.  I imagined a world of imposing industrial computers humming menacingly with reels and reels of tape and a never-ending string of print-outs containing gobbledy-gook, all taking place in a no trespassing zone.



réseau privé virtuel (RPV) virtual private network (VPN)
accélerateur graphique graphics accelerator
adaptation automatique de la fréquence automatic frequency switching
câble à fibres optiques fibre optics cable
capture d'écran screen capture

To get rid of that naiveté and with a genuine desire to be enlightened, I did a bit of reading and learned that IT is  a happy marriage of hardware and software.  One can't exist without the other.  At times, that marriage is marred with problems and inconsistencies, but we all know that when software meaningfully connects with hardware, the relationship can be quite rewarding.   Architectural platforms, switchboxes and work stations are just as important as the software applications that reside in them for the proper processing and execution of  commands.

We are aware that security is a perennial challenge of IT. The media give security breaches occurring in high profile organizations top coverage.  Questions are fired at the security agencies that are supposed to install the safeguards.  Eventually, the reliability of software also comes into question.  This is where the software challenge takes its rightful place alongside the challenge of security.  After all, isn't safe and reliable software the heart and soul of any IT undertaking?



carte d'entrée analogique analog input card
débit binaire disponible available bit rate
déboguer to debug
échelle binaire binary scale
enregistrement de suppressions deletion record
equilibrage des lignes de transmission balanced routing
filtrage des adresses sources source address filtering

An interesting paper written by Michael Hogan in 2001 on the challenges of IT standards development calls attention to software as the fifth IT challenge on his list.  Mr. Hogan works for the National Institute of Standards and Technology and has been with the Institute for over 25 years.  He sounds like he's there to stay for as long as his bosses will let him because he says it's the best job he's ever had.  For some of his colleagues, it's the only job. 

What were Mr. Hogan's conclusions about the software challenge for IT? 

  • software is an intellectual creation
  • quoting what PITAC said in 1999, "the nation needs software that is far more usable, reliable and powerful than what is being produced today"
  • measurement is one of the major obstacles faced by the software industry (quoting Capers Jones in Scientific American, 1998)
  • sound software standards depend upon sound measurement standards

It might be worthwhile getting some IT administrators together to pick their brains about what they believe to be sound measurement standards.  I'm certain there are aspects in the IT field requiring software applications to be measured in terms of functionality, user-friendliness, rate of effectiveness and whether all or just a tiny segment of its features are utilized to advantage.



flux de données de sortie output stream
génie logiciel software engineering
garnir une carte to populate
horloge numérique digital clock
intégration parfaite seamless integration
interface API application programming interface
langage SQL structured query language
maquette dummy, mock-up
registre de mémoire tampon memory buffer register
mémoire à accès aléatoire random access devices
microprocesseur en tranche bitslice micro-processor

Do IT security managers lead a charmed life?  To the outside world, they do.  Many of us envy them for their technical knowledge.  In a way we put them on a pedestal. To people who know what goes on in the inner sanctum, however, or for those who've been there, done that, it's not exactly a bed of roses.

security Mark Egan and Tim Mather (Executive Guide to Information Security, 2005), statistically describe a month in the life of an IT security manager:

  • 9,481,668 logs and alerts generated by firewalls and intrusion detection devices
  • 620 security incidents
  • 450 new viruses
  • 250 new vulnerabilities
  • 55 investigations
  • 2 incidents requiring immediate action

Egan and Mather made that description in 2005.  It's now 2009.  Would it be correct to assume that those figures have since tripled?

This ends our series on IT.  It's an exciting sphere of activity where the birth of new software and hardware will keep IT managers on their toes.  We'll revisit this theme at a later time and give you more IT terms to include in your lexicons.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

French to English: Information Technology, Part 2

People with a background in information technology who have years of experience working in both the public and private sectors face bright job prospects.  Make that very bright!  The projections are that jobs in information technology (that includes computer and management information systems, Internet security and infrastructure design) will grow an average of 16% up to the year 2016.

technology Thanks to innovation, technologies evolve rapidly; those who keep up and become savvy techies can name their price.  Network security specialists are probably the most blessed group.  Companies desiring to maintain that competitive edge will consistently review and replace their existing computer systems and upgrade to more sophisticated networks. 

The US Department of Labor provides median annual earnings in those industries that hire the largest numbers of computer and information system managers:

Computer systems design and related services: $109,130

Management of companies and enterprises: $105,980

Data processing, hosting, and related services: $105,200

Insurance carriers: $102,180

Colleges, universities, and professional schools: $83,280

If you're interested in an IT career, you may want to visit the web site of the Association of Information Technology Professionals:  The association is based in Illinois and regularly sponsors seminars across US cities for information systems professionals.  It also offers scholarships to selected colleges and universities as well as to some individuals and private organizations to further the promotion of information technology systems.

Let's add to your IT lexicon:



inforoute (ou autoroute de l'information) information highway
accès access
courriel e-mail
bande passante bandwidth
intelligence artificielle artificial intelligence
applet (ou mini application) applet
avatar avatar
blogue blog
navigateur Web browser
bavardoir chat room
logiciel de conversation en ligne internet relay chat software
groupe d'utilisateurs multiples multi-user group
envoi de messages textes text messaging
témoin (ou biscuit magique) cookie
piratage logiciel software piracy
protocole de transfert de fichier file transfer protocol
fossé numérique digital divide
large bande broadband
nom de domaine domain name
foire aux questions FAQ (frequently asked questions)
gratuiciel freeware
manique de la technologie (ou technophile) geek
interface graphique graphic user interface
page d'accueil home page
langage hypertexte HTML (hyper text markup language)
messagerie instantanée instant messaging

IT quote

More terms for you in our third and final series of IT terms!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

French to English: Information Technology, Part 1

I read this quote by Steven Wright in the Montreal Gazette:  "If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back?"

And if you saw a worm in your hard drive, would you annihilate it?  worm You probably can if you're a geek and are well-versed with the evil ways of hackers.  But if you're not,  you'd report it to your IT Manager straightaway - unless he and his team have already spotted the little wiggly creature and are busy sending notices to staff members to turn off their computers while they try to deal with this slimy nuisance.

You're familiar with viruses but you're not so sure about worms - how much harm they  inflict and whether or not  they can be totally banned from your hard drive once they're detected and removed.  You've also heard of  Trojans.  If you're like me, you want to understand how the three differ.

I consulted the Symantec web site.  A virus is a tiny computer program that changes how a computer operates.  To qualify as a virus, two criteria must be met - first it must execute on its own and second, it must replicate itself. 

Symantec identifies five types of viruses:

  • file infection viruses
  • boot sector viruses
  • master boot record viruses
  • multipartite viruses; and
  • macro viruses

A worm is also a program that replicates itself without a host file.  In layman terms, this means that worms are inside  other files like Word or Excel documents, but they use host files differently.  A worm will release a document that has the "worm" macro within the document; this document then travels from computer to computer and hence becomes the worm itself. 

Symantec describes Trojan horses as impostors.  They pretend or appear to be desirable files when in fact they contain malicious code that can wipe out or steal data from an infected  computer.

Viruses, worms and Trojan horses constitute only a tiny aspect  of a company's information security program.  This is why when executives gather in the boardroom, one hot topic that makes it to the agenda is not so much their profit and loss statement or what charities they will support next year, but the status of their IT program and how best to enhance security controls.  This takes on more significant proportions when financial institutions and intelligence agencies are involved and IT personnel have detected a security breach.

The damage caused by worms in terms of dollars and cents can run into billions.  For example, the first worm that appeared in 1988 was the Morris Worm.  It disabled 10% of computers connected to the Internet.  Code Red Worm (July 2001) infected 2.3 million computers with a cost of $2.75 billion.  The Sapphire/Slammer Worm in January 2003 infected 90% of hosts in just 10 minutes and generated damages of $1.5 billion.  There were many others, all causing at least a million in damages, not to speak of the administrative nightmares they created.

Here's our first instalment of IT terms with a focus on security:



cryptage (ou chiffrement) encryption
piratage logiciel software piracy
base de données database
signature numérique digital signature
télécharger to download
commerce électronique e-commerce
mordu (ou pirate informatique) hacker
reniflage de paquets packet sniffing
pourriel (ou spam) spam
ver informatique worm
pare-feu firewall
détection d'intrusion intrusion detection
réseau privé virtuel (RPV) virtual private network (VPN)

Trivia (but not really trivia):  Heard of the Halloween Documents?  It has nothing to do with a treatise on award-winning costumes.  In fact the concept is stripped of costumes and is linked to open source.  The Halloween Documents were actually a collection of confidential Microsoft documents that revealed the initial sentiments of the software giant about the threats that Open Source represented.  The documents supposedly contained the strategies of Microsoft to fight Linux and Open Source.  Microsoft has since admitted the authenticity of these documents (source:  David Bell et al:  Cyberculture.  ISBN:  0-415-24754-3, Routledge, England).

Thursday, August 13, 2009

French to English: Petroleum Industry, Part 3


lens I created a Squidoo lens about translation awhile back.  For that blog (Squidoo prefers to call it a lens), I talked about translation as a career covering topics like translation tools, fees, pitfalls and training. 

Regarding tools, translators need more than just bilingual dictionaries.  These days a translator who works with pocket dictionaries would get a severe reprimand because pocket dictionaries simply won't do.  If you're studying to become a translator, throw them out!

Aside from bilingual dictionaries, professional translators who take their work seriously tirelessly collect other useful tools of the trade like bilingual catalogs and glossaries.  And the more specialized these tools are, the better.

My main terminology source is Termium (owned by the Canadian government) but there are times when Termium can't provide the terms I'm looking for.  So what do I do?

I scavenge around for French/English web sites (99.9% of the Canadian government web sites are developed in both languages), or consult other terminology banks like the IATE (Inter-Active Terminology for Europe).  Use of their terminology data base is free (thank goodness) and can be accessed by anyone looking for translations in even the more obscure languages like Lithuanian or Maltese  Terms are divided according to industry or field of activity.  Would-be translators, this is a site to include in your bookmarks!

Given that new terms keep appearing, a translator needs to be resourceful.  I can't stress this enough.  The ability to locate the right equivalent in the target language at lightning speed is a desirable trait.  Unfortunately,  publishers of dictionaries and industry-specific lexicons just can't keep up with the flurry of new words and phrases.

At the very minimum, a translator needs:

  • good bilingual dictionaries preferably with over 300,000 word entries (not including contextual expressions and phrases)
  • unilingual dictionaries published by a recognized name like Larousse, Harraps, Le Petit Robert
  • specialized glossaries and lexicons
  • web sites that specialize in terminology
  • web sites that cover the industry you're translating
  • academic reference materials (e.g. Elsevier - but books by this publisher cost an arm and a leg)

Having said that, and to prove that the more tools you have, the more efficient and accurate your translation will be, I tested Termium for certain technical words used in the petroleum industry.  Out of the 15 words and phrases I collected, Termium was able to give me only half (8).  I didn't panic because sitting on my book shelf is the French Petroleum Institute's bilingual Dictionary of Petroleum Technology compiled by M. Moureau and G. Brace (Editions Technip).  This dictionary is probably one of the more comprehensive ones in the market and I'd be foolish to sell it - even at profit!

One final word of advice before I present the last instalment of petroleum words and phrases:  France may use a different term than say Canada or Belgium and it's up to translators to clarify with their client who the target readers are!



sable diluviens diluvial sands
inclinaison magnétique needle dip
dénomination d'une diagraphie de porosité obtenue pendant le forage Drilling Porosity Log (DPL)
émulsionner to emulsify
dossier d'impact sur l'environnement environmental impact statement
amodiation (ou accord d'affermage) farmout agreement
vanne à sécurité intrinsèque failsafe valve
plan de charriage overthrust fault
jauge de Birmingham pour les fils Birmingham Wire Gauge
calibre pour tôles plate gage
additif pour essence gasoline additive
gaz acide sour gas
gaz de combustion stack gas
gaz naturel de synthèse substitute natural gas (SNG)
habitat des hydrocarbures oil habitat
effort de traction hauling

There are hundreds of thousands more petroleum terms and we will definitely revisit this theme to build this lexicon further!

For the next series, I'm wavering between information technology (one of my translation specialties) and the wine industry (having just come back from Niagara's scenic wine route last week).  I'm not a wine lover nor do I drink socially, but somehow this wine tour stirred my imagination.

I'll let you know!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

French to English: Petroleum Industry, Part 2

For those who nurture an interest in Canada's petroleum industry, an excellent way to start would be to visit the web site of the Canadian Petroleum Discovery Center where Leduc # 1 - Alberta's first oil well - is located.  The Center is located about 20 minutes west of the Edmonton Airport.

To put some color into Canada's petroleum history, you can watch this video and get to know the people behind Leduc # 1 (scroll down the page for the video):

When it comes to oil and gas, the first image that we conjure up are the oil sands out in the Middle East, and that image is probably the same for anyone because we have come to associate the Middle East with a bottomless oil reservoir, the enormous beehive of petro dollars.

It is no wonder then that Canada was hardly thought of as an oil-producing nation.  Our petroleum reputation changed when the country experienced an oil boom, brought about by discoveries in the province of Alberta.  That was in 1947 when Leduc # 1 made the exciting discovery.  Since then, we have become a major exporter of oil; our biggest trading partner is of course the United States, known for its insatiable thirst for energy. 

A Canadian government publication says that Canadian companies exported about 63% of domestic production; in 2005, Canada was supplying the US about 10% of that country's crude oil requirements.

Here are more "pet" terms in French and English:

épuration de gaz gas cleaning
puissance au frein brake horsepower
soute bunker oil
craquage catalytique catalytic cracking
unité de craquage catalytique cat cracker
indice de cétène cetane index
huile de coupe minérale mineral cutting oil
désémulsibilité demulsibility
essai au plombite de sodium doctor test
point d'ébullition finale final boiling point (FBP)
homogéniseur homogenizer
aréomètre hydrometer
point initial d'ébullition initial boiling point (IBP)
huile pour moteurs marins marine diesel oil (MDO)
ozonisation ozonization
dénomination d'une base antirouille Petrobase

And if you thirst for more of Canadian petroleum history with a special focus on Alberta, head over to the Alberta Online Encyclopedia - a massive information portal about Alberta that serves as an invaluable reference for not only teachers, students and scholars but also for corporate and government entities and tourism researchers  By clicking on Canada's Petroleum Heritage (further down the web page), you'll discover the works of Earle Gray - Canada's most eminent petroleum historian!

How does Canada compare to Saudi Arabia in terms of oil production?  Statistics Canada reports that "at the beginning of 2006, Alberta’s remaining established oil reserves amounted to 28 billion cubic metres, or the equivalent of 174 billion barrels. This places Canada second in the world after Saudi Arabia’s 42 billion cubic metres."

That should make you stop asking why real estate hit an all-time high in Alberta, and why it's now called Canada's wealthiest province.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

French to English: Petroleum Industry, Part 1


Today we start a three-part series on the petroleum industry.  You've watched movies that trace the evolution of petroleum in different countries, most of them moving sagas of how brawn and muscle dug into the deep to help transform countries into revered oil giants.

Historians who devote their research and writing exclusively on the petroleum industry have much fodder to nibble on, feverishly churning out tales, legends, real life stories and controversies.  As their pens scurry to separate fact from fiction, the oil wells continue to "belch out"  because energy - often called a nation's backbone - has to be produced continuously to satisfy world demand.  The tons and barrels of this commodity fuel the imagination of man, turning humble citizens into bold entrepreneurs who'll do whatever it takes to be able to strike the exact spot on the ground that will set forth a towering inferno.

When you look at the petroleum industry, you need to decide which perspective to take, because it is as vast as the oil fields in which they thrive.  Will you be studying it from the perspective of the movers and shakers, meaning the oil manufacturers who dictate how much to export or import, will you be looking at the different petroleum products in the market - how they're explored, manufactured and then refined for the buying public or will you be looking at the processes only, or the various technologies that have taken their rightful place in oil and gas exploration?

Yes, there are different ways of looking at the petroleum industry, and there are five segments based on the categories set by the American Petroleum Institute:

  • upstream - this relates to the exploration and processing of crude oil and natural gas;
  • downstream - this relates to the tankers, refineries, retailers and consumers - basically the refining and marketing side of it
  • pipelines
  • marine
  • service and supply  

petroleum2 The web site of the American Petroleum Institute is a good place to start if you're looking for a well-organised overview of the  fundamentals.  There's also a section on training and certification for those who are seriously considering a petroleum career:

Our first set of petroleum terms:



or noir black gold
pétrole brut crude oil
sables bitumineaux oil sands
installations de forage pétrolier offshore oil rigs
consommation pétrolière oil consumption
extraction pétrolière et gazière gas and oil extraction
mètre cube cubic metre
barils barrels
réserves pétrolières oil reserves
brut classique conventional crude
approvisionnements insuffisants supply shortages
prix en plein essor soaring prices
OPEP (Organisation des pays exportateurs de pétrole) OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries)
plates-formes de forage en mer offshore platforms
raffinerie refinery

We'll be back for Part 2 in a few days.  In the meantime, a much needed vacation - it'll be a short and sweet one. 

For my vacation, I managed to exchange my Air Miles reward points for three Shell gas cards!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

French to English: Spa, Part 3

We can talk incessantly about spa services but like the culinary arts, if there are no demonstrations, a learner would have to grope through text and put his imagination on overdrive to visualize what's being described. 

dough For example, when I was new at bread baking, I had a difficult time figuring out what the recipe writer meant by the words "until the dough is smooth and elastic" or "until the dough doubles in size."  You'll argue that those instructions are straightforward and need no further explanation, but you'll be surprised how many have shied away from bread baking, intimidated by the mysteries of  yeast, time, gluten and temperature.  To a beginner, handling unforgiving dough is like  trying to outsmart public enemy # 1.

Thank goodness for remnants of a virtue called perseverance.  I was determined to overcome my fear of dough, so after a few hits and misses where I ended up with either a liquid, unwielding ball or fossil-like rock-hard flour, I finally learned "what smooth and elastic" and "doubled in size" meant.  One day it would be nice to put a magnifying glass directly into yeast and see it go to work.

So...getting back to spas.  It helps to see how a specific spa treatment is performed.  For example, in today's lexicon, I include the term "effleurage".  When I looked it up at Termium, this is what I got.  (Termium is the Canadian government's terminology bank - - a great online tool for translators working in the French, English and Spanish languages).



If you read the description, you get an idea of what an effleurage is, although it would be nice to know exactly what "no pressure is used" and "slow and rhythmic'" really mean.

YouTube easily answers that.  Whoever invented YouTube is a genius (blessed are those who broadcast themselves).  I googled effleurage and asked for only youtube results and presto - I found a live demonstration!  It turns out that there is pressure applied, and the massage is of four types. According to the massage therapist on the video, effleurage also means "stroking."  Now my idea of stroking is a gentle caress, letting your fingertips dance ever so lightly on the person's skin.  The video shows otherwise.  Watch it.

This video was posted by the Health Choices International Holistic School of New Jersey.  Watching those skillful hands move down and up the back almost makes you wish you're the one resting on that massage pad.

Some more spa terms:



digitopuncture acupressure
acupuncture acupuncture
rétroaction biologique biofeedback
cellulite cellulite
effleurage effleurage
inhalothérapie inhalation therapy
cataplasme poultice
thalassothérapie thalassotherapy

I'll tackle the petroleum industry in my new series.  Hope you come back!