Wednesday, March 27, 2013

With Friends Like This, Who Needs Enemies.

French and English look devilishly similar.  Many words like identical.  The meaning is obvious, right.  Like all booby traps, the first word booby meaning idiot, many has wise translator has fallen into the trap of the false friend, the word you thought knew what it meant and did not confirm its meaning.

I recently completed a translation of a service contract involving software, rather standard material.   As I carefully translated each sentence, one at a time, I often double checked certain words in my various resources to see if there was not some other meaning, unknown to me.  Here is a short list of the false friends I avoided:

L’object du contrat is the subject of the contract.
Le jour de signature du marché is the day of signature of the agreement.
Determiner la vacation is the set the hourly pay rate.
Le prix forfataire is the fixed price.
Article 25 est sans object means that is invalid.
Les delais de renumeration is the periods for payment.
Accuser reception is to confirm receipt.
Preparer un calandrier is to prepare a schedule.
Une copie du contract qui est retirée is a copy of a contract that is taken by the party.

I strongly believe that I missed all the traps, but it is often extremely hard to know who your real friends are in translation.  So, if you took French in High School and spent a summer in Paris, it does not mean you can translate a French contract into English.

No comments:

Post a Comment