French

Voulez-vous please be polite?

Die Französische Sprache Ist D

Duform In Französischen Werbet

This self-confident approach to one’s own language and the consequent avoidance of Anglicisms are just two of the many challenges that professional translators like the Parisian Salim Malik must always keep in mind when switching from German into French on a daily basis. Here’s another: French is frequently more polite than German. ‘The familiar “tu” form of address is practically unheard of in French marketing texts. Customers are always addressed respectfully in the more formal “vous” form. Unless you are looking to attract an exclusively younger audience.’ Equally, though, French tends to have a romantic, emotional touch, perhaps even at times – for instance in ceremonial speeches – flowery. A German translation will need to subdue this kind of style a tad.

In Französischen Werbetexten
Salim Malik

More elaborate than the compressed form

Ihr Tiefes Sprachverständnis B

Heißt Es Char Oder Voiture

A broad vocabulary is another fundamental element when translating from French into German or vice versa. After all, French comes in several guises. For instance there is the Canadian version of French words, which show far greater similarity to their English equivalents: Cars, called ‘voitures’ in France, are known as ‘chars’ (quite like the English counterpart) in Canada. Originally, though, this word meant ‘chariot’, and is used for ‘tanks’ in France. On the other hand: The fast food company Kentucky Fried Chicken goes by the same name in France, while the Canadians insist on a translation: There it is called Poulet Frit du Kentucky.

Plenty of linguistic pitfalls – also in the Swiss version of French

You don’t need to switch continents to blunder into linguistic pitfalls in French. Professional translators need to consider carefully how the precise meanings of French words change when used in Switzerland. ‘In Switzerland, for instance, the word for tablets is “tablettes”. But in France the term describes the entire package. Here the more standard word for individual tablets would be “comprimé”,’ explains the translator Malik.

Plenty of mix-ups, meaning high demands for translators

So there is no shortage of linguistic booby traps when moving from French into German and vice versa. This is why it takes real professionals. Whether the text involves branches of industry like information technology, medicine or tourism, more cultural areas such as films and literature or political and legal documents. There is plenty of demand. And the standards placed in a first-rate translation – not just at the Académie française – are high.

Salim Malik

Professioneller Übersetzer

Salim Malik was raised bilingual in Cologne and Paris . He has worked as a professional translator for the language combination German to French for five years now.

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