Friday, June 18, 2010

French to English: Cars, Part 2

If push comes to shove and you have a very technical document to translate that the client needs yesterday, how do you cope - especially when the generous sprinkling of technical terms prevents you from understanding the document?  My suggestion:  go for "gisting." 

Gisting is a process that enables you to get a rough idea of the subject matter.  One way to do gisted translation is to submit it to machine translation.  The machine will spew out words which, when put together, provide clues on the topic.  This way, you'll be able to look up terminology in the proper context. 

I have the Systran package and while I would never use it to translate an entire document, I would use it on that rare occasion when I'm at a loss.  If, after reading the 5th paragraph, I still don't understand the source language,  I simply turn on my Systran software and let the machine do the work.  Nine times out of ten I get to discern what is being said.

Another way is to let Google help you.  While Google Translate should never be your primary tool, it does give you good gisting possibilities.

There is nothing wrong with Google Translate or machine translation - provided the document is not sent to the client as is. Human intervention is a must.  You'd have to clean it up - and clean up you will because you and I already know that machine translation - if not edited - can be atrocious.  It will make you chuckle, but I don't think your client will be very amused.

In my next post, I'll give you examples of Google translations, and then do some quality control so that the document reads intelligently.

témoin de frein antiblocage ABS service reminder indicator
témoins de feux de direction turn signal indicator lights
témoin de feux de route high beam indicator light
témoin de pression d'huile low oil pressure warning light
témoin de frein de stationnement parking brake
témoin lumineux du système de charge charging system warning light
témoin et carillon de porte ouverte door ajar warning light and alarm
témoin de bas niveau de carburant low fuel level warning light
lampe témoin d'anomalie moteur malfunction indicator light
signal lumineux et sonore de ceinture de sécurité seat belt warning light and chime
témoin de température du liquide de refroidissement engine coolant temperature warning light
témoin du système d'immobilisation immobilizer warning light

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

French to English: Cars, Part 1

I'm enjoying my new car - that fresh-from-the factory smell, the way it purrs like a kitten and the smooth highway driving tell you that yes, life can be grand with a brand new machine. 

I managed to keep my old car (a Toyota Corolla) for 14 years.  In the last 2 years, however, I no longer used it for long trips, preferring to rent a car.  I was afraid that it might suddenly croak right in the middle of a busy highway.  It was running well right up to its 14th year and for sentimental reasons, I wanted to hang on to it for longer; I secretly hoped I could keep it for at least another 3 years.

But one April afternoon before attending mass, the car started to tremble and I got scared.  All I did was pray hard we'd get home safely.  We did make it home, but that was a sign from above that it was probably time to let go.  Why push my luck?

I wasn't ready for a new car, but I didn't want to face another year of expensive repairs either so I bit the bullet and went shopping.  With a pint full of dread.

I learned a lesson:  don't shop for a new car when your old one shows signs of serious trouble.  Two reasons:  (a)  out of desperation, you could settle for the first offer that comes your way, and (b)  the trade-in value is a sorry pittance.  You know that old advice to stars about making an exit from the celebrity circuit while they're still hot?  The same advice applies to cars, no doubt.

Because I was afraid that my old car would suffer another relapse and leave me with zero mobility, I hurried up the buying process instead of taking my time to compare offers from at least 2 other dealerships.  In my rush to close the first deal, I ended up with a cost that was far greater than the cost posted in the papers.  What I should have done was to do my own calculations instead of taking the salesman's word and relying on HIS computer to spew out the figures.  That was so unintelligent of me!  When I drove out of the dealership with my new car, I had this nagging suspicion that I'd been had.

As for the trade-in value, Toyota Corollas have good resale value - but only if they're in good condition.  Mine had a lot of rust on the underside.  Plus it was 14 years old!  If I had sold it on its 7th or 8th birthday, I probably would have received a higher trade-in value.

That's all behind me now.  My new car won't give me reason to worry for at least the next 5 years.  My sister once said that her own experience shows that cars start showing trouble just when their warranties expire.  My brother also told me that I should get rid of that mentality of keeping my car for as long as I can.  "Get rid of it when it's past its prime," he said.

And with the kind of Montreal winters we have, I learned another lesson:  I'll have my car rust-proofed every year.  That way its bottom belly stays well-lubricated!

levier d'ouverture de capot hood release lever
interrupteur de phares antibrouillard fog light switch
bouton de commande de luminosité du tableau panel brightness control knob
régulateur de vitesse cruise control
klaxon horn
sac gonflable air bag
commutateur de lave/essuie glace windshield wiper/washer switch
commutateur de feux de détresse hazard warning light switch
montre à affichage numérique digital clock
interrupteur de dégivreur de lunette de-fogger switch
boîte à gants glove box (compartment)
panneau de commande de chauffage/climatisation heating/air conditioning control panel

Friday, June 11, 2010

French to English: Countries, Part 3

I've been swamped with client work, but that's no excuse to be away from my personal blog this long.  I have not posted anything since the 20th of May - mea culpa - but much as I love blogging, I gotta put food on the table as well.  Ah, the heartaches!  Wish I had two brains and one more pair of hands.  These extras would allow me to do everything I want to do in a day.  But as they say, be careful what you wish for.  I don't want to wake up one morning and see how deformed I've become!

As I complete this final series on countries, I have two bits of trivia to share with you:  there is no country that begins with the letter "X".  If you chance upon an island - unnamed and undiscovered - and you can lay claim to it, why not give it a name that starts with X?

Second bit of trivia:  did you know that there's a country called Nieu?  I shouldn't say "country", it's really an island and it's just three hours away from New Zealand.  On the official web site, it reports that are  less than 90 hotel rooms and there are times in the year where there are more whales than humans.

I have never heard of Nieu until I did research for this posting.  Nieu is not to be confused with Nieu-Bethesda which is in Africa.  The Nieu I discovered is in the South Pacific Ocean and is also known as the Rock of Polynesia. It is bordered by New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga and Cook Island.  It associates freely with New Zealand and is somewhat "governed" by New Zealand.  I think I'll put this island in my "countries to visit before I die" list.  I have always dreamed of visiting Australia and New Zealand anyway so why not do a side trip to Nieu?  Maybe it's the best place to "renew" one's energies!

Here is your final batch of French-English country names:

La Corée du NordNorth Korea
la Papauasie-Nouvelle-GuinéePapua Nwe Guinea
la PolognePoland
la RoumanieRomania
Sainte-Christophe-et-Nièves (masc.)Saint Kitts-Nevis
Saint-MarinSan Marino
l'Arabie Saodite Saudi Arabia
l'Écosse (fem)Scotland
la SerbieSerbia
les Seychelles (fem)Seychelles
l'EspagneSpain (fem)
la SuèdeSweden
la SuisseSwitzerland
les pays de GalleWales

If you're as curious as I am about Nieu, please visit:
There's a brochure and a map which you can download.

Where are you heading to this summer?