Friday, February 19, 2010

French to English: Store Flyers, Part 2

sale 50% off This time I'll pick up some advertising lines from Canadian Tire, a huge retail outlet that doesn't sell only tires.  To Canadians, this store is a sacred tradition and very much a part of their lives.  It's been around for decades and its product line has been expanded to include home, garden, and kitchen merchandise as well as electronics and banking.  It started out selling car accessories and offering car repair services.  They're also famous for their "Canadian Tire money"; every time you buy from them, you get these colorful bills in varying denominations which you can use for your next purchase.  Don't throw them away - they're NOT Mickey Mouse currency!

If you're looking for a "solid" company, Canadian Tire ranks up there.  Its stock - both on the shelves and in the stock market - is healthy.

I kept this Canadian Tire flyer because it has common advertising "come-ons" that you may have come across.  Add them to your terminology base.  You'll never know when they'll come in handy.  Let's take a look:

store flyers, part 2

The first box where it says "premiers arrivés" - you're familiar with the saying "first come first served."  The French equivalent is "premier arrivé premier servi."  But notice how it was translated to "door crashers."  The intention was probably to convey the idea that shoppers ought to be standing by the door when the store opens in the morning - to give the impression that the slashed prices will attract throngs of eager shoppers.

I'm not too happy with the second advert.  The French uses the noun form; i.e. achat gros and grosses économies (bulk purchases and huge savings).  The English translation should have been consistent with the French by keeping the noun form as well, but it used the verb form (buy in bulk and save big).  A better translation would have been:  bulk purchases and huge savings.

The rest are fine. 

Next, why don't we go inside the store and see what we can put into our shopping carts?

friteuse numérique digital deep fryer
scie à seau pour carreaux wet tile saw
pulvérisateur électrique electric pressure washer
nettoyant d'injecteurs fuel injector cleaner
lave-glace avec dégrivant washer fluid with de-icer
scelleuse food sealer
bouilloire sans fil cordless kettle
meuble audio-vidéo multimedia storage
robinet - 1 manette single-handle faucet
foyer électrique electric fireplace
armoire/placard, fini érable maple-finish storage cabinet/pantry
extincteur fire extinguisher
pièces de rechange universelles durables pour toilette long-life universal replacement parts for toilets

Final note:

économies - savings

rabais - discount (as in je l'ai acheté au rabais - I bought it at a discount) but on lui a fait une remise -she got a discount.  Also:  le magasin fait une réduction de 5 % sur les jouets is translated as:  the store is currently offering a 5% discount - or a 5% reduction - on toys.

escompte - the English word is also discount.  An escompte de banque is a bank discount.  We also say 50 % d'escompte sur toute la marchandise - 50% discount on all goods.

The percentage sign (%) in French is written after a space, like this:  50 %; 2 %, 10 %.  There's always a space between the number and the percentage.  In English, the % is written without a space as in 50%, 2% and 10%.


  1. Re your statement: "Achats gros et grosses économies vs. Buy in bulk & save big". I do not share your opinion that the English should use nouns instead of verbs. This difference appears to be a feature of English (at least in North America) where verbs or gerunds are used whereas the French would use a noun. The famous book In search of excellence was translated in France by Excellence intégrale. Vinay Darbelnet, in their book entitled Stylistique comparée, explain the difference.

  2. Thank you Oleg, I appreciate your visiting my blog and leaving a comment!
    Yes, I have used the book by Vinay Darbelnet while at McGill, it was an excellent reference. Generally, there's no rule that says the English or the French translation should use nouns or verbs. If using a noun or a verb makes the translation more fluid, then by all means do. But in this particular case, I had to read the English translation of that phrase twice because it just didn't sound right; that's when I discovered that there was a "disconnect." If the French had said "achetez gros et obtenez des grosses économies" then the English would have read correctly.
    I hope you visit again!

  3. Hello,
    I don't read or understand Mandarin or Cantonese, but I had your comment translated by google and it said, "always resisting temptation is a victory." If this is what you said, I agree with you 100%!
    Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.