Thursday, May 20, 2010

French to English: Countries, Part 2

Like other professionals, translators have their own tool kits.  I obtained the translation of this next set of countries using a simple but useful software called GT4T.  More about GT4T below.  Let's talk about CATs first.

About 75% of translators I know use computer-assisted translation (CAT) tools.  I believe the industry standard is Trados.  Other popular CATs include Wordfast, MemoQ and DivX.  These aren't machine translation software, they are called terminology memory software and they help facilitate the work of translators who have to translate documents with word counts in the thousands.  They help retain the consistency of term usage.

I once tried Wordfast years ago but gave it up after a few weeks.  Don't ask me why.  I think my discomfort had to do with the interface. 

Translators also have machine translation software programs which, we all know, don't do a perfect job.  Machine translation has not yet reached its full maturity, and leaves much to be desired.  One example of a machine translation software is Systran.  I gave it a try.  It did a so-so job, and while the user manual said that its memory can be "trained", one word I was never able to teach it was "borough."  In Montreal, we say "arrondisement" just like they do in France, but Systran kept returning the word "district" as the English translation even if I kept correcting it and sending it to the memory term base.

So translation tools, I'm afraid, have left a bitter taste on my mouth.  Maybe it's my fault for not trying hard enough to decode the configuration.  I almost bought MemoQ not too long ago but I've been reading the comments on Yahoo groups and while some of them have been charmed by it, there seems to be a lot of issues.  MemoQ, however, has excellent customer support.  Users praise their customer support staff to high heavens.  But for now I'm staying away from any translation software - whether it's a CAT or machine translation software.

Last week, I came across Dallas Cao's GT4T while I was surfing on ProZ, and it's a clever concoction, without the whistles and bells.  It is based on Google's translation base and it does a good job.  GT4T stands for "Google Translate for Translators."  It works only within Microsoft Word and the operation is fairly straightforward.  I'm actually enjoying it.  You can find out more by going to
Oh yes, it's of course limited in functionalities compared toTrados, Wordfast or MemoQ, but when you're pressed for time and don't have time to learn the intricacies of CAT tools, Dallas Cao's GT4T is excellent!  After you've translated the document using it, all you need to do is to clean it up and do the required quality control.  I used GT4T to do this next set of countries for you, but had to add the "le" or the "la" before the French name (hello Google!)

la Hongrie Hungary
Île Maurice (fem)Mauritius
le Japon Japan
la Jordanie Jordan
le Koweït  Kuwait
la Lettonie Latvia
la Libye Libya
Malte (fem)Malta
le MarocMorocco
la Norvège Norway
l’Ouganda (m)Uganda
la Nouvelle-Zélande New Zealand

Monday, May 17, 2010

French to English: Countries, Part 1

When I was studying translation, one theory that I had down pat was NOT to translate proper nouns.  French names of associations and groups shouldn't be translated unless there was an official English equivalent. 

I never really got around to asking my professors why the French write the names of countries differently.  For example, why would the United States become les États-Unis?  What was even more intriguing was some countries were masculine and others were feminine.  An academic question gone unanswered!  I'll have to dig into my old textbooks and find the explanation.

I'd like to give you the names of some countries in French and English, but I will choose only those countries that are not so obvious owing to the different way they're spelled.
Here's the first 12:  (plus 1 bonus)

l'Andorre (feminine)Andora
la Barbade (fem)Barbados
la BiélorussieBelarus
la BirmanieBurma
le Cap-VertCape Verde Islands
le TchadChad
les ComoresComoro Islands
le DanemarkDenmark
l'Équateur (fem)Ecuador
les FidjiFiji Islands
la Polynésie françaiseFrench Polynesia
l'Allemagne (fem)Germany

I've been delinquent in posting.  I have a good reason though.  I was buried in client work and in the last 30 days, I lived around pressing deadlines.  That's a good sign, don't you think?  Some of us thrive in our work.  I like the adrenaline rush when I'm racing against time.  The only downside is that I don't get to blog as consistently as I want to.

Adrenalin rush in French - une poussée d'adrénaline or une montée d'adrénaline.
downside - l'inconvénient (as in disadvantage)