Vocabulary research in French English translation Vocabulary research - FranceTerme

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    As a translator there are many ways to research and improve translation vocabulary. The internet is a valuable tool, however you need to know where to look.

    I recently discovered another source of new vocabulary for those wanting to express themselves in “proper French” without using any kind of improper “Franglais” or an English calque of a particular word. The different vocabularies together words and phrases recommended by the General Commission of Terminology and Neology are regularly published in the Official Journal of the French Republic in the context of the program for the enrichment of the French language.

    The commission’s objective is to enrich the French language to facilitate understanding of concepts sometimes poorly understood by the public and recommend contexts for their use.

    All vocabulary published in the Official Journal terms can be found on the site FranceTerme: http://www.culture.fr/Ressources/FranceTerme/Librairie

    Why is it useful?

    Whilst this site is primarily destined for French speakers wanting to improve their vocabulary when talking about specific subjects, I found it to:

    • be an excellent source of new vocabulary that may be problematic in translation
    • provide clear explanation of the use of the word contextually and its foreign equivalent, which in this case is English
    • a research tool to assist in confirming that the translation that you may have thought to use in English is in fact correct
    • help stop you from using a false friend and make your final translation more accurate.

    As I often work on translation of legal texts, the selection of vocabulary below may help you in future translation projects. My favourite is the use of “autonomisation” for “empowerment” in English. The notion of empowerment comes up so much in international affairs and women’s rights and can be a particular stumbling block in translation and interpreting. I am glad to see it included here in writing as I’ll feel more comfortable using it in the future.

    French English
    médecine légale forensic medicine
    obligation de vigilance due diligence
    primauté du droit rule of law
    déontologue compliance officer
    guichet unique one stop shop
    alerte professionnelle whistleblowing
    autonomisation empowerment

    If you have time to take a look at the site, let me know your thoughts. For those of you looking for new resources for translation research I hope you find it useful and if sustainable development is your field then you have your work cut out for you – there’s a 324 page glossary just for this topic. Just goes to show you how important this topic is at a global level.

    Nicola Thayil

    About Nicola Thayil

    I am a professional, accredited French to English translator, French English interpreter specialising in the corporate, marketing and legal sectors. I am based in Melbourne, Australia.

    4 thoughts on “Vocabulary research in French English translation Vocabulary research - FranceTerme

    1. Hi Dmitry and Nicola,

      Forgive me for shamelessly praising my own relics 🙂 : you and your readers might find TerminoTrad (link to terminotrad.com) of some interest in this context. The portal gives completely free access to a number of terminology resources in English, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese and a number of these combinations. United Nations and other International Organization terminology sites you can explore under Databases and UN Special, among other things, could be particularly useful to the linguist you are, it seems to me. Have a look, it won’t cost you anything except, I hope , for a degree of terminological addiction.


      R. McK.

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