Linguistic purity and terminological accuracy in French translation

The mother-tongue of Metropolitan France and widely spoken elsewhere (Canada –principally the provinces of Québec and New Brunswick; Belgium – Wallonia and Brussels; Switzerland – Western region; and the Principality of Monaco), French is the official language of around 30 countries on all continents (a legacy of the French Colonial Empire and, to a smaller extent, of the Belgian Empire), as well as being an official language of numerous international organisations such as the United Nations, NATO, the International Olympic Committee and the Universal Postal Union. French is also one of the working languages of the European Union.

As is the case for English, French is characterised by a multitude of variants that are said by some to “threaten” that well-known ‘linguistic purity’ that the French state tries hard to protect via government-promoted actions.
In 1635, Cardinal Richelieu founded the Académie Française creating a fundamental starting point for the study, exploration and “protection” of the ‘langue française’. Among its principal objectives was the creation and publication of a grammar book and a dictionary of the language, as well as the exploration and diffusion of a rhetoric and poetics aimed at elevating the French language to its rightful status, both within the French State and abroad. This was the first attempt to regulate the basics of the language from a grammatical, syntactical and stylistic point of view, and above all to protect a common heritage and an important instrument in the representation of French culture and the French people.

As time passed, the conception continued to spread and take deeper root, so that, today, the politics of language protection is a highly tangible reality and is strongly felt by the people of France. This attention to the form of the language is evident not only in the most common and general use of French, but above all in the technical and legal sectors. In this connection, potential infiltration by Anglicisms has been largely “thwarted” via terminological research and the creation of corresponding French neologisms, the use of which is “recommended”, and whose diffusion is guaranteed by the publication of the ’Journal Officiel’ (the Official Gazette of the French Republic).

It is for this reason that, in the field of translation, a good French translation is characterised by the use of precise and appropriate terminology and by constant attention to the continual modifications and innovations in the language. The imperative is to keep up with the evolution of the language and to produce high quality texts in all fields.

Translation of texts for France and a French-speaking audience

Purity of language is appreciated not only in the translation of legal texts, but also in technical and scientific documentation. These specialist texts require specific syntactical structures and linguistic conventions that are indispensible when communicating the concepts to native French speakers, who tend to be punctilious when it comes to safeguarding their language.

The translator needs to focus maximum attention on the specific French terminology, which is often characterised by the use of bizarre neologisms and frequently hostile to the use of Anglicisms or terms that have been ‘borrowed’ from foreign languages in general.

The staff at SMG UK Translations Limited (SMG UK) is professionally qualified to translate technical texts into French. Technical guides, instruction booklets, advertising leaflets, scientific articles, company profiles, press releases, software interfaces, product labels, technical specifications, and specialist newsletters and blogs are all part of our translation expertise in this area, which also includes the delivery of translations with urgent deadlines.

We are also fully qualified for Legal and financialtranslation into French, for example the editing of memorandums of understanding, international agreements, commercial distribution and agency agreements, company balance sheets, bank balance sheets, insurance policies, banking documents in general, auditors’ reports and prospectuses. Among our most important activity in the field of financial and legal translation is the work we do for the French Supreme Court.

French interpreters

As well as having an intimate knowledge of the grammatical, syntactical and terminological elements that characterise the French language, an interpreter must understand its phonetics..

The correct pronunciation and intonation of the language constitute a fundamental starting point for establishing a relationship of trust and reciprocated respect with your French interlocutor. A native French speaker will immediately perceive an interlocutor’s level of preparedness and will, above all, interpret this as an expression of “respect” for the language and for its culture and people.

Our assistance in oral communication in French includes simultaneous and consecutive interpreting services. Our certified interpreters translate at conventions, company meetings, negotiations, union talks, parliamentary sessions, State visits, press conferences, company visits, and trade shows and events, both in France and in many other countries.

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