Translator at a glance

What makes a good translator?

A good translator is not only someone who has mastered the source and target languages. They must be knowledgeable, well read, up on current affairs and know where to find the answers to the questions that elude them.

They know that a literal translation is rarely the right one. For example, how would you translate the following proverb?

One rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel.

If your translation includes apples and a barrel, you would do well to read more French or spend some time in a French speaking country (or province). There is a French equivalent to this proverb but it talks of sheep and a flock (Il suffit d’une brebis galeuse pour gâter tout le troupeau.)

A good translator knows that technical translation is riddled with pitfalls. For example, in legal translation, the translator must keep in mind that in Quebec, civil law is based on the French Code Napoleon and criminal law is based on the English common law whereas in the rest of Canada, civil and criminal law are rooted in the common law of England. What does this mean concretely? A whole can of worms that someone must diligently study in order to avoid making potentially costly mistakes.

For those who are interested in legal translation, here's a chance to test your knowledge. How would you translate the adjective “legal” in the following contexts?

Would the equivalent to the word legal be the same in all four cases? If you answered yes, you definitely need my services. Here are the answers (the equivalents to the adjective “legal” are highlighted):

Qualifications:

B.A. in Translation (2001) from Université Laval in Quebec city

Courses completed include:

Language studies at Ottawa University

Courses completed include:

My tools:

Termium Plus: electronic term bank maintained by the federal government’s Translation Bureau

Grand dictionnaire terminologique: electronic term bank maintained by the Office québécois de la langue française

English-French, French-English dictionaries including the Collins Robert French-English, English-French Dictionary and the Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary

Various French dictionaries including the Nouveau petit Robert, Larousse dictionaries, the Multi dictionnaire des difficultés de la langue française, etc.

Various English dictionaries including the Gage Canadian dictionary, the Cambridge International dictionary of English, the Cobuild English dictionary, etc.

Various English and French grammars and specialized reference materials for specific fields (e.g. legal translation)

Past projects:

Since I started translating, my clients (from lawyers to librarians) have kept me busy with a wide variety of projects including: websites, documentaries, CD-ROMS, textbooks, letters, speeches, press releases, labour market reviews, ads, product labels, postcards, etc.

Here are some of my past projects

I look forward to helping you make your next project as great as it can be.