Wednesday, September 30, 2009

French to English: Bonsai, Part 2

Thinking of adopting a Bonsai tree and caring for it?  A Bonsai tree hobby is one of the most rewarding experiences; the emotional satisfaction is immeasurable.  It's like owning a dog.  You buy a pup, nurture it, watch it grow to a healthy living thing.  You spend years with your dog, a special bond is formed and the two of you become inseparable.

Owning and caring for a Bonsai tree is the same.  You have this miniature tree - a replica of a much bigger tree - and it's growing and branching out, showing off a rich foliage right under your eyes.  We're not waxing sentimental, but some Bonsai writers have written pages and pages on the link between a Bonsai tree and spirituality.  Even if you're a self-declared atheist, when a Bonsai tree evokes certain sentiments in you, then in a way you have turned into a spiritual being.  If a Bonsai tree gives you moments of joy and a special sense of accomplishment, then yes, there's definitely something spiritual about a Bonsai tree.  I won't get carried away with this idea, so let's leave it at that.

But if you are keen in starting a Bonsai tree hobby, you'll need tools.  Some hobbyists tend to go overboard when they start a hobby and spend needlessly.  For Bonsai tools, you'll need to separate the "must-have" from the "nice to have."   As a beginner, focus on the must-have tools; then when you're firmly entrenched and raring to learn more and develop new techniques, go ahead and make that investment enthusiastically!

Basic Bonsai tools -



gros ciseaux large scissors
ciseaux à feuilles leaf scissors (leaf trimmers)
ciseaux à brindilles twig scissors
ciseaux à racines root scissors
pince coupant pliers for cutting
pince de force clamps
pince à bec flat nose pliers
plateau tournant lazy susan
crochet à racine root hook
truelle trowel
balai brush (small broom)
sécateur pruning shears
gouge gouge
pelle shovel (scoop)

Standard advice from Bonsai experts:  clean your tools after each use and keep them in a bag or box exclusively for your Bonsai activities.  Don't let humidity get to them.

For beginners, I'm happy to share some Web resources that will further your Bonsai education.  Visit your city library as well; they'll have an armful of good books that you can pore over!

Here are those web sites of interest: (this is the National Bonsai Foundation) (this is the American Bonsai Society) (this is the BC Bonsai Society in British Columbia) (this is the Australian Bonsai Society).

PS:  Before you buy a Bonsai tree, find out if it's an indoor or outdoor species, and ask the nursery if it will survive inside your home.  You'll need to get as much information as to the kinds of living conditions your particular tree will thrive in.

Friday, September 25, 2009

French to English: Bonsai, Part 1



I couldn't decide what my next theme would be and took an extra day to think about it.  Then it hit me.  I had just finished a report and three articles on Bonsai trees for a client and my research yielded plenty of information so I thought, why take up unnecessary brain energy when the answer's right there? 

I cannot and will not reproduce any of what I wrote for my client for ethical and copyright reasons, but given the amount of Bonsai education I acquired - not to speak of the enlightenment - I could blog about those things that were not covered in my client's articles and report. 

If you read books and online articles on Bonsai, one of the first things you'll learn is how the name "Bonsai" came about. This beautiful art form originated in China; the Chinese called it "pen-jing."  Soon afterwards, this practice reached Japan and "pen-jing" gave way to "Bonsai."

If you view the slide above, you only see one object - a tree - and it's sitting on a pot.  Whatever tree you see is the miniature version of the actual tree; meaning, the tree that's on your street or in the park or in the mountains with the huge trunk and the rich foliage.  Bonsai then means a miniature tree ("sai") that grows in a pot or container ("bon"). 

Bonsai tree hobbyists number in the millions.  It has become so popular since it was introduced in the West right after the second World War that numerous societies and federations dedicated to promoting this art have proliferated.  Anyone who wants to start a Bonsai hobby will have access to resources - the Internet, local libraries and staff in botanical gardens.  Even your local nursery and garden center will be able to tell you about how to get started.

For part 1 of this lexicon, I will focus on the different shapes (some Bonsai writers call them styles) of Bonsai trees.  But before I give you the French and English words, some things to mull over:

  • Your Bonsai tree must be a replica of the same tree growing outside;
  • Bonsai trees are generally of two types:  indoor and outdoor;
  • In terms of care and maintenance, outdoor Bonsai trees are easier than indoor trees.  This is because indoor Bonsai trees have to grow in an environment that is identical to the natural environment of the tree.  If there is a lack of light and humidity levels are slightly off in your home, there's a strong chance that your Bonsai tree will struggle.  And as some experts say, a  Bonsai tree that struggles to survive is likely to die;
  • Bonsai trees can be grown from any tree, shrub or houseplant.  They are not genetically modified;
  • Not all plants or trees growing in a container can be called Bonsai.  For a tree to qualify as a Bonsai tree, it must be a miniature size and must grow in a container.
  • And this one is from Peter Chan, well-known Bonsai expert who owns a Bonsai shop in London:  "A Bonsai must be a work of art.  If it has no artistic merit, it is just an ordinary plant in a pot.  The beauty of Bonsai is that, unlike a painting or sculpture, it lives, breathes, grows and changes - it is always a 'work in progress.'" (Peter Chan, Bonsai Secrets, 2006).



rigoureusement vertical formal upright
souplement vertical informal upright
penché slanting
cascade; demi cascade cascade; semi cascade
troncs doubles et multiples double and multiple trunks
groupes et paysages group or landscape
battu par les vents windswept
balai broom
lettré literati
le style aux racines apparentes exposed roots
le style racines sur la roche root over rock
sur rocher planted on rock
tronc enroulé coiled
tronc écorcé driftwood

According to Peter Chan, no shape or style is superior than the other.  The Literati and driftwood styles, however, appear to be favorites.  The root-over-rock and cascade styles are difficult to create so they fetch a steeper price.

For part 2, we'll look at some of the tools that are used by Bonsai tree growers.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

French to English: School and Office Supplies, Part 3


office supp, part 3

It's a constant hustle and bustle - the mailroom, that is. 

When I was still working at corporate, I'd visit the mailroom at least once a week to fetch supplies.  Given the amount of confidential mail that came and went, employees were not allowed beyond the service desk.  It's one area of the building that doesn't seem to lack in frenetic activity, not even during the lunch hour.  I'd see stacks of stationery, brown and white boxes, wrapping paper and reams and reams of paper, all holus bolus.

This last instalment on office supplies contains a lexicon of 15 mailing/packaging terms.  While compiling these terms, I learned a couple of things about packaging ribbons and tapes:

  • for packages that take a lot of rough handling and with contents needing extra security, you need a packaging tape that has high tensile strength and is resistant to breaking.  It should have superior holding power for large cardboard boxes.  Specify this when you make a trip to your local supplies store;
  • for packages that need to be stored in places with fluctuating temperatures but require tapes with  moderate holding, you need an acrylic-based tape.  Acrylic packaging tapes have long shelf-life, don't turn yellow and offer excellent clarity.  Acrylic packaging tape is ideal for light-duty mailing.

I've come across brands like Scotch, Henkel, Kraft and Staples.  In my local office supplies store which is a Staples (Bureau en Gros in Quebec), the more popular brands are Scotch and...Staples (of course).  You have a variety of tapes which are reinforced with glass filaments, offer superb sealing capability against moisture, rust and dust, and are available as standard, double-length or extra wide rolls.  There are tapes that are ideal for very low temperatures, have strong adhesives for extra holding power, and those that don't split or tear.

My Web research led me to a company called IPS (Industrial Packaging Supplies) and I was impressed with the gamut of adhesive products that are now available to consumers.  For example, IPS offers epoxy adhesives, acrylic adhesives, urethane structural adhesives, anaerobic adhesives, hot melt adhesive systems, Polyurethane Reactive (PUR) systems, fast-setting water-based contact adhesives, aerosol adhesives and more. 

Seems to me that the industrial packaging arena has evolved to the extent that it has become necessary for continuing R&D and innovation in adhesives.

Here are your 15 packaging and mailroom terms:



ruban d'emballage en caoutchouc synthétique thermofusible

hot melt synthetic rubber packaging tape
ruban d'emballage en acrylique acrylic packaging tape
ruban d'emballage pour usage ordinaire general purpose sealing tape
boîtes en carton ondulé corrugated boxes
tubes d'expédition et d'entreposage maling/storage tubes
envellopes à bulles auto-adhésives self-sealing bubble envelopes
enveloppes rembourrées padded mailers
sacs refermables en poly resealable poly bags
film étirable avec poignées stretch/pallet wrap with handles
billes de calage packing noodles
feuilles de mousse foam sheets
emballage postal postal wrap
étiquettes d'expédition shipping labels
étiquettes d'envoi en manille manila shipping tags
papier de soie et papier journal tissue paper and newsprint
balance postale électronique numérique digital electronic postal scale

I'll start a new theme in my next blog and I'm not sure which one I'll be doing.  I guess you'll have to come back and find out!

For all your FR-ENG translation needs, e-mail me at  Competitive rates, top-shelf translations - any domain.  You name it!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

French to English: School and Office Supplies, Part 2



The upside about blogging is you learn something new everyday.  That's because to write good, informative blogs, research is indispensable.  The experts advise all beginning and seasoned bloggers to sustain the pace and to strive for good content.  Research can take a long time but as they say, "you just have to keep plugging away." 

Plugging away is what I'm doing, despite being short of time some days because I also have my writing and translation mandates to take care of.  Clients are # 1, and much as I love blogging and desire to nurture my lexicons (which have grown, by the way), this hobby gets tended to only when time permits and I'm not drowning in deadlines!

If I didn't have to make a living, I'd be blogging all night and all day, eventually making a success at blog monetization - a subject I've been meaning to research but life always gets in the way.  Besides, rumors have it that monetizing a blog can take years - at least that's what I've gathered so far.

So what can I share with you today? 

If you'd like to have a crack at entrepreneurship, live in a developing country and believe you know enough about the stationery industry, you might be able to have a go at it by exporting stationery and office supplies to Europe.  An organisation called CBI - the Center for the Promotion of Imports from Developing Countries - might give you a helping hand.  Aside from their inspired mission to reduce poverty in developing countries, CBI wants to promote active trade between these countries and Europe.  One such channel would be office stationery and related supplies.

Why does the CBI think there's an export market for stationery and other supplies to Europe?  For one, it says that the EU's total stationery consumption totalled 15 billion Euros in 2006.  While decreases in consumption were reported between 2002 and 2006 in some EU countries, the CBI believes that the market can very much accommodate stationery exports into Europe from developing nations.  These are a few of the reasons cited:

  • growth of the grey population - this points to the need for hobby-related stationery;
  • people's lack of time - this phenomenon makes it imperative for new products that help save time and minimize effort to be developed and marketed;
  • popularity of digital photography - this has led to the need for storage of CDs and albums;
  • environmental awareness - more and more customers are demanding that product packaging reflect respect for the environment;
  • worker mobility - workers will need more products and supplies that will make "work-to-go" quicker and easier.

For those of you who want to know more about the business potential for exporting stationery and related supplies to Europe, it would be worth your while to visit the CBI's web site and read their market reports (they're free).  Go to:

Here are a few French/English terms for you:



planches à pinces clip and carry clipboards
porte-tabelette en vinyle vinyl pad holder
porte-formulaires en aluminium aluminum form holders
pinces relieuses binder clips
pinces bulldog bulldog clips
pinces pour cloisons panel wall clips
ensemble de ruban et dévidoir tape dispenser
ruban d'emballage à haut rendement high performance packaging tape
téléphone analogique pour conférences analog conference phone
système de répondeur à 2 lignes (avec/sans fil) 2-line answering system (corded/cordless)
téléphone haut-parleur speakerphone
coupe-papier paper cutter
coupe-papier laser wood laser trimmer
coupe-papier en titane titanium paper trimmer
câbles simulateurs de modem crossover cables
câbles de réseautique network cables
attaches de câble cable ties
organisateur de câables de type tunnel cable tunnel organizer
serveurs d'impression à 4 ports 4-port print servers
boîtier à 2 baies pour stockage réseau 2-bay network storage enclosure

Thursday, September 10, 2009

French to English: School and Office Supplies, Part 1

school1 Going to my favorite office supplies store is usually uneventful.  I walk along the aisles, make a note of how much prices have gone up, pick up what I need, pay for them and boogy out of there before the urge to spend more money gets a hold of me. 

Once in awhile I'd linger in the software section to see if there are any new products of interest.  Years ago, I used to buy what I want and need, but these days I spend money on only what I need.  Now that I work as a full time freelancer, I have learned to cut down on shopping with the frills.  If I think the software will be used for a couple of weeks only to be abandoned later, I resist the temptation to buy it (software is so expensive so I try to dabble in open source software when time permits).  

Like I said, most times that I spend in my supplies store are dull.  It's not a "happening" place - no tumbling boxes, no shouting clerks, no blaring music, no gang wars.  But the period late August and early September gets more interesting.  The store comes alive with snippets of Shakespearean drama.  Here's an example:

Mom:  Put that back, Heather. 

Heather:  But mom, I need it for school.

Mom:  No, you don't.  Besides you have one similar to what I bought last year.

Heather:  No, it isn't similar.  That one you bought didn't have any cartoon characters in it.  This one does.

Mom:  I've got the school's list right here, Heather.  That binder is not on the list. Besides, we've got a lot of binders at home.

Heather:  No, I...

Mom:  You say no again and I'll give you one you won't ever forget!

Heather:  Well, okay.  If I get a failing mark, don't blame me.  I need cartoon characters to inspire me to study.  School's boring as it is.

(Mom ignores her remark so the kid tries a different tactic.  She snuggles up to her mom, caressing her arm)

Heather:  Mom, if I do the dishes for two days and clean my room tomorrow, would you please...pretty please... buy this one for me?  I promise it'll be the last.  I just think these characters are awesome.

Even the dollar store gets its share of family drama during the back-to-school period.  The other day, I witnessed a father and two sons who created quite a commotion because the boys thought there was still a lot of room in the shopping cart but the father simply kept putting things back on the shelf.  A tug-of-war, I thought.  The final tally?  $105.00 (this is the dollar store, remember).  I saw the pain on the man's face when he reached out for his wallet.

The back-to-school period is one time you wish kids  become parents overnight!  You can keep saying "money doesn't grow on trees" until you're blue in the face, but it won't be as effective as when it's their turn to buy school supplies.



cadres frames
colles et adhésifs glue and adhesives
marqueurs highlighters
crochets hooks
calculatrices calculators
support pour moniteur monitor stand
plateau à lettres letter tray
cahiers à sujets multiples multiple subject notebooks
taille-crayon pencil sharpener
étiquettes pour chemises en rouleaux roll format file labels
rapporteurs d'angles protractors
gabarits de dessin drafting templates

Sunday, September 6, 2009

French to English: Wine, Part 3

In our first wine blog, we talked about terroir and how it affects the quality of the wines produced in any given region.

One component of terroir is soil, another is climate.  And when it comes to climate, there are certain terms used by wine amateurs and enthusiasts to describe climate. Where I was born we talked of climate as being either wet or dry.  Of course we were never known as a wine-producing country, although we had a couple of strong liquors that sent drinkers on a wild and reckless rampage.

What are some climate terms used in wine lingo?

  • continental climate - this kind of climate has extreme variations in temperature in any given 12-month period.  It is characterized by severe and cold winters and hot and humid summers.  A continental climate is typical of a geographical area that is far from lakes and rivers;
  • degree days - this is a unit of measurement for determining the suitability of climates for the specific purpose of growing wine;
  • macroclimate - a region's general climate;
  • maritime climate - a region is said to have a maritime climate when it is partly dependent on a large body of water (sea or lake).  Stability of temperatures is a distinct feature of a maritime climate, which means winters are mild and summers are warm (without the humidity);
  • marginal climate - this is a climate that is barely climate suited for wine growing.  Temperatures lean more towards the cold.  Wines coming from marginal climate areas tend to be less consistent in quality.
  • mesoclimate - the climate on a smaller scale; that is the climatic condition of a small district or of a single vineyard;
  • moderate climate - regions with a moderate climate are said to have minimal fluctuations in temperature during the year.  Regions are located near bodies of water.




climat continental continental climate
degrés-jours degree days
macroclimat macroclimate
climat maritime maritime climate
climate marginal marginal climate
mésoclimat mesoclimate
climat modéré moderate climate

The above lexicon was fairly easy, wasn't it?

Let's now go to wine styles.  What type of wine holds a special place in your heart (or should I say palate)?  Do you like sparkling wine (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir), full-bodied wine with rich flavors (Chardonnay, white Rioja) or do you prefer crisp, dry light bodied wines (Chablis, Vinho Verde)?

Maybe you're a Rosé fan.  I like ice wine and Sangria.  I'm a little barbaric when it comes to distinguishing wines.  I spent money on software, not on wine.

In fact, it was only a month ago that I acquired a bit of knowledge about wine.  I went to Niagara-on-the-Lake and joined a wine tour.  There the "bartenders" showed us how to examine a glass of wine against a clear backdrop, how to sniff, how to swirl the glass a few times and then how to take in air vigorously by clenching your teeth, after the first sip or two.

One final thing:  spitting the wine is considered de rigueur.  Fascinating...



styles de vins wine styles
effervescent sparkling
bulles bubbles
sensation de picotement tingling sensation
piquant, corsé tangy, steely
vin aromatique ou fleuri aromatic or flowery wine
pierres humides damp stones
pointe d'acidité twang of acidity
groseilles à maquereau gooseberries
sucre du raisin grape sugar
cassis black currant
domaines viticoles particuliers individual wine estates
la législation française sur le vin French Wine Law

We'll come back to our wine lexicon at a later date, but next week I think I'll talk about office/school supplies - to mark 'back to school" and "back to work" blues.

Please stay tuned!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

French to English: Wine, Part 2

decanter In my previous blog, I promised to show a video.  I found one that I thought was both educational and entertaining.  Gary Vaynerchuk speaks about decanting wine, especially top dollar wines.  In this video, he features the Amon-Ra Shiraz 2004 from the Barbosa Valley (Australia's equivalent of California's Napa Valley) to explain the benefits of decanting.

As I listened to Gary's engaging presentation, I couldn't help but think that decanting wine is like the courtship stage in a budding romance.  If a man meets a woman and proposes marriage after a few days' of wining and dining and then they tie the knot and hit the hay (pardon the  vulgar expression), they discover soon enough that the hasty decision to marry was a bad one.  The feelings of non-fulfillment and dissatisfaction nag at their psyche.  They come to another hasty decision:  they split up, bitter at the amount of money that was spent for the wedding, the reception and the honeymoon.

Gary Vaynerchuk says that if you buy an expensive Bordeaux, and then you take it straight to a restaurant to share with friends, you've just thrown away your precious dollars.  To get the FULL potential of wine and its  explosive and delightful combination of aroma, taste and texture, decanting is an indispensable step.  He suggests four to six hours of decanting to allow the wine to breathe freely.

Watch this video now.  You'll agree with me that his arguments are convincing!

You can tell Gary Vaynerhuk has discovered his passion.  I have a confession to make.  I have this secret wish of creating a video presentation with me as presenter, but my timid nature tells me that while I can convey the information I want to convey, I may not hold the attention of my audience long enough - the way Gary Vaynerchuk does so effortlessly!

Here's your lexicon:



réfractomètre refractometer
tenure en sucre sugar level
machines à vendanger machine harvesting
vendanges tardives late harvest
vin de glace ice wine
le buttage banking up
chaufferettes anti-frost smudge pots
trémie de réception receiving hopper
fouloir/égrappoir crusher/de-stemmer
cuve de fermentation upright fermentation vessel
presse pneumatique pneumatic press
chaptalisation et acidification chaptalization and acidification
macération maceration
remontage remontage
remuage des lies stirring the lees
fermentation malolactique malolactic fermentation
vin de "goutte" free run juice
vin de presse press wine
tanins tannins
décantation racking
vieilissement en bouteille bottle aging
collage et filtration fining and filtering

More wine terms in part 3.  Come again!