Some tricky words to translate

This is my take on some tricky words to translate, that I came across in my work. At least there may be some terms which may have culturally different implications, emphases or approaches which aren’t necessarily fully reflected in the words even though the translation may be appropriate.

EnglishFrench wordExplanation
a notice, notificationun avisIn French, avis can take many forms: ‘un avis de recherche’ or ‘un avis de notficiation’ such as you might receive stating your tax position.
account forcomptabiliserPerhaps it’s the fact that in English it’s a compound verb ‘account for’, whereas in French ‘comptabiliser’ is understood to be ‘include a number in your accounts’
added value, promotionvalorisation‘valorisation’ Is a relatively vague term which can mean ‘add value’, as in production adds value to a raw material, but it can also mean to promote as in ‘valoriser un projet’
adhere torespecter, le respect de …‘respecter les règles’ might be applied during COVID – “Do you wear a mask?”. Adhering to the rules in UK English is more like following the rules, but ‘following’ can be a little vague in English. Does it mean that you are applying the rules to the letter which in might imply in French?
be personally held responsibleengager la responsabilité personnelle‘Engager la responsabilité’ is a concept embedded in French [law and] society that you have a personal responsibility to protect yourself and others as reflected in the minimum car insurance in the UK is third-party (protecting others).

But phrases like ‘ceci engage la responsabilité de la societé’, mean that the company will be liable. In French, there is a notion that to ‘engage’ means ‘commit’, so a director, by his actions commits the company to potential risk.
check, testcontrôler‘contrôler’ can be to check a process or test a machine for correct calibration. Ultimately in English ‘contrôler’ has two potential translations, with potentially a difference between ‘check’ and ‘test’.
collimatorcollimateurThe dictionary provides a translation of ‘collimator’ for ‘collimateur’, But in French ‘collimateur’ is quite common. ‘Il sera dans le collimateur’, could mean ‘he’s being interrogated’.
commissioningmise en serviceSo in English commissioning would be appropriate for a work of art – you commission a work of art – or a report commissioned by the government. Mise en service seems more at home in a production environment where you commission a machine. But in a UK production environment, you would be more likely to ‘install’ a machine than commission it.
community workeranimateur socio-culturelSo a community worker may well be an ‘animateur’ but not necessarily, they might be something like a social worker. Whereas an ‘animateur’ could be a children’s entertainer or someone who accompanies children on outings.

A community worker might have quite some responsibility for improving the local community and fighting for social causes.
customerdonneur d’ordreSo obviously the common term is customer, where in French, the common term is ‘client’. ‘Donneur d’ordre’ is a formalised term in Engineering contractual relationships – the prime contractor – is ultimately the customer, or end-user of an edifice.
customer relationshipla mise en relation‘la mise en relation’ harks to the French passion for diplomacy and perhaps the formality of business relationships. ‘La mise en relation’ between buyer and seller. This is a difficult one to find a good equivalent in English.
deliberation or decisiondéliberation
door assemblybloc porte
enablespermettre de
enforcement noticeune mise en demeure d’exécution
engineering departmentbureau d’études‘Engineering Department’ is a good translation of ‘bureau d’études’, but it seems to me that ‘bureau d’études’ is subtly different in that it conveys the idea of pre-project study and analysis, whereas ‘Engineering’ is a more general term, which conveys less about analysis unless you know the specifics of the project or company.
ensuring compliance withmise en conformitéla ‘mise en conformité’ in French is a process. A company which wishes to comply with EU regulations will ‘se mettre en conformité’, Which may be a long quality confirmation process applying standards. Ensuring compliance with seems to imply less of the process of applying standards and more the process of checking to ensure that [a company] is compliant.
fitting outaménagement
formal notice / formal notificationmise en demeure
have a postal addressdomiciliation
hold a meetinganimer une réunion
hold liable, legally bindingengager la responsabilité de
host, presenteranimateur
implementationmise en place
in the scope of, as part ofdans le cadre de‘dans le cadre de’ is a term that could be used quite easily in French. ‘Dans le cadre du projet … nous allons …’. But ‘in the scope of’ is less prevalent. More likely it would be ‘as part of … a project … we aim to achieve the following’, although the strict translation is ‘in the scope of’. Care must be used therefore to use the term appropriate to the context.
malfunctiondysfonctionnementSo here the differences probably related to the prefix ‘mal’ or ‘dys’. Mal implies poor operation. ‘Dysfonctionnement’ is of course similar, but ‘dys’ implies ‘not functioning according to specifications or intended purpose’. These nations may not necessarily be one and the same. A malfunction is incorrect operation but the French implies focus on the design.
managementencadrementSo clearly where the translation is valid, notions of management in Anglo-Saxon cultures and French may take frame different approaches. What is management? ‘Encadrement’ conveys a notion of surrounding, protection. ‘Encadrement d’une équipe’ may or may not be paternalistic in practice but the fundamental idea is inclusive, where management may be seen as more top-down. This will depend on individual styles.
methodmodalitésMode and method are easy to confuse.
monitor, managesuivre‘Suivre’ presents the same difficulty as ‘contrôler’. What is included in ‘suivre’? Do you just check the dashboards or do you intervene in managing the underlying process? Monitor might be the first, whereas manage would be the latter. The meaning of ‘suivre’ then, is highly dependent on context.
moreover, furthermore, in additionen outre
observance of obligationsrespect des engagements
organise an eventanimer un événement
regulations or lawsrèglementation
related to, based onau titre de
thanks tograce à
the person declaringdéclarant
to guaranteeêtre garant
traineranimateur de formation
update meetingpoint, faire un
whereen cas de

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