FLD Continuing Education Series – Episode 4: Translating Our Time—Linguistic Trends in Sustainable Development

Welcome to the fourth episode of the French Language Division’s Continuing Education Series podcast. The main focus of this podcast is the craft of translation (English > French and French > English).

Natalie Pavey

In episode 4, podcast host, Angela Benoit welcomes sustainable development translator Natalie Pavey (www.nptranslations.com) to talk about terminology and neologisms in the field of Sustainable Development, providing insight on the cultural, political and historical contexts in which terms come into existence.

SOUNDCLOUD: You may access Episode 4 and other podcast episodes on SoundCloud here. On SoundCloud, you can listen to the episode in your browser or download a copy of this episode directly to your computer.

ITUNES: This episode and the entire podcast series are also available on iTunes here. On iTunes, you can subscribe or listen online. (Even if the link doesn’t show up on the iTunes preview, it is still there – simply subscribe.)


To follow everyone from today’s episode on Twitter, visit the feeds for Natalie, Angela and the French Language Division.

À Propos: Review of #ATA56 Session – Translating French Initial Public Offerings and Other Securities Offerings

ata-fld-newsletter-logoAt the 56th American Translators Association conference held in November 2015, in Miami, FL, Jennifer Bader of CLASS Translations, a securities attorney admitted to the bar in Paris (inactive), New York, and Maryland who now works as a freelance translator, presented a session entitled “Translating French Initial Public Offerings and Other Securities Offerings.” Who could have asked for a more appropriate speaker to clarify the ins and outs of the financial markets?!

This dynamic presentation covered three major components of a well drafted professional translation: background research, terminology and style. Ms. Bader explained the three stages of the IPO process: the preliminary prospectus (the red herring), the final prospectus and the various players: issuers, underwriters, broker-dealers, and purchasers. She discussed specific terms in French and English (e.g.: document de base and document de reference–both terms for registration document), including nuances in terminology (e.g.: offre publique [tender offer] vs. offre au public [public offering]) as well as cultural differences. For example, the French term for IPO (initial public offering), introduction en bourse, emphasizes the stock exchange component rather than the public offering component.

In matters of style, the speaker explained that in 1998, the SEC issued its Plain English Handbook, which requires so-called plain English in parts of prospectuses. In 2010, Congress passed the Plain Writing Act stipulating simpler more direct language in government publications (e.g. before vs. prior to – because vs. owing to.)She listed some common problems found in disclosure documents, such as long sentences, passive voice, weak verbs, financial and legal jargon, superfluous words, and numerous defined terms. Examples of plain English rewrites can be found on this website: https://www.plainlanguage.gov/examples/before_after/ambigwd.cfm.

Ms. Bader also discussed opportunities for translators at the various stages of the IPO process and gave valuable tips for more effective translations. (e.g.: Always ask a new client if there are any previous translations of financial statements to make sure the line items are the same.)

The presentation was clear, informative and to-the-point with just the right touch of humor. For this financial translator, Ms. Bader’s session alone was well worth the trip from Denver to Miami.

Rhoda B. Miller

Rhoda B. Miller, CT, is an ATA-certified F-E translator with 20 years’ experience translating legal and financial texts.

À Propos: FLD Member Updates – Fourth Quarter 2015

Members provide updates to share with the French Language Division. If you have a professional update you would like to share, please email us at divisionfld@atanet.org.

  • Eve Lindemuth Bodeux has had several translations of children’s stories published for La Dentellière Editions Numériques, a publishing house based in France. Titles include Stories and Magic Dust, It’s Water, Not Words!, The Doray Family and adaptations of The Fairies and Thumbelina. The original French texts and translations are available in iTunes across the world.
  • Rhoda B. Miller is pleased to announce that her translation of a French book has been published in the United States. Que Veut la Chine ? De Mau au Capitalisme by François Godement (originally published in France by Odile Jacob, 2012), is now available on US bookshelves under the title Contemporary China: Between Mao and Market (Rowman & Littlefield, August 2015). Rhoda won a subsidy from France’s Centre National du Livre for this translation.
  • Samantha Mowry was certified in July 2015 as a French-to-English translator by the American Translators Association.
  • Patrice Van Hyle’s translation “Genotoxic Risk Assessment Among Nurses Handling Cytostatic Drugs” of the article “Évaluation du risque génotoxique chez les infirmiers manipulant les cytostatiques,” originally published in Annales de Biologie Clinique, will be published by the National Institutes of Health’s Library. Patrice was also profiled in a feature story in the business section of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in March 2015. Click here to see the article.

À Propos: Sign Up for the FLD’s LinkedIn Group for Professional Networking

Expand your social networking horizons and join our very own LinkedIn Group!

With the French Language Division’s ambitious initiative this year to revamp and widen its social media reach, a LinkedIn Group was launched earlier this year (2015) to provide members yet another valuable way to connect and share experiences with fellow colleagues.

We already have well over a 100 members, and there have been some great discussions that have taken place, such as:

  • Ideas for generating income outside of translation
  • Specializations that most people don’t think is a specialty
  • Strange ways people have received work
  • Dealing with “translator’s block”
  • Keeping up on French language skills outside of a Francophone country
  • Using paper dictionaries

If you aren’t already a member, or haven’t participated in a discussion yet, please go check us out! You can find our group either by clicking the link below, or by searching for the group name “French Language Division of the American Translator’s Association” in the search bar on any LinkedIn page.


We hope you enjoy our new social media channel and look forward to your lively participation!

Shannon Summers

Shannon Summers is a moderator of the FLD LinkedIn Group and a member of the FLD’s Leadership Council.  She specializes primarily in medical and IT/software translations and attended Monterey Institute of International Studies (MIIS) and Institut Superieur d’Interpretation et de Traduction (ISIT) in Paris. 

À Propos: ATA President-Elect and FLD Member Corinne McKay Answers Our Proust Questionnaire


Find our more about our Proust Questionnaire!

Corinne McKay, CT, is a former administrator of the French Language Division and current President-Elect of the American Translators Association. 

How did you get involved in translation? Well, maybe it was destiny, because my birthday is International Translation Day (no kidding!). But after getting a Master’s in French Literature and teaching high school French for 8 years, I had a baby and wanted a change. So in 2002 I sat at the kitchen table with my baby daughter and the phone book, and started cold-calling translation companies to find out how to apply. 13 years later, here I am!

What subject areas do you translate? Mostly international development, corporate communications and books. I translate for internationally-funded development projects in West Africa and Haiti, for French universities and law firms, and I recently translated two books: a murder mystery set in Egypt and a memoir by a Sherpa written in the 1950s.

What is your greatest strength as a translator? I’m persistent: whether it’s researching a term, or finding a colleague to answer a question, or finding a new client, it takes a lot to crush my spirit!

If you could translate anything in the entire world and get paid for it, what would it be and why? I love translating outdoor adventure and mountaineering memoirs (kind of a niche within a niche), and fortunately the French and Swiss write a lot of them! My absolute dream project would be to translate Louis Lachenal’s Carnets du Vertige, a memoir about the first expedition to successfully summit an 8,000-meter peak. So if anyone has an “in” with his heirs, let me know!

Please tell us something about one of the most interesting projects you have ever worked on. The text of the Sherpa memoir I just translated was like a game of telephone, because the Sherpa author was illiterate in his own language and didn’t speak French. So he dictated the book in English to one of the other expedition members, through an interpreter; then yet another person translated it into French, for reasons unknown. I’d love to see how closely my translation resembles the “original” English!

What linguistic resource (dictionary, glossary, website, etc.) would you like to share with our readers? Linguee: lots of people probably use it already, but it’s great for researching words or phrases in context.

Do you have a favorite word or phrase in French or English that you’d like to share? When I started taking French in middle school, our textbook included a photo essay called “Le beau paysage sauvage du Mont Saint-Michel.” Mont Saint-Michel is still one of my favorite places in the world, maybe because of that story, so the phrase pops into my head a lot!

Outside of works on T&I, is there any book (fiction or non-fiction) that you enjoyed reading that you would like to recommend to others? It can be in either English or French. I don’t read much fiction, much less historical fiction, but I became absolutely addicted to Hilary Mantel’s Henry VIII series, including Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. I regularly stalk Amazon for the third volume in the series, which is supposed to come out this year.

Do have a funny “food” translation story you’d like to share? Tell us about it! I find ordering coffee in France or Switzerland to be surprisingly difficult, and it’s a major issue because I am a caffeine enthusiast! It always strikes me as odd that in the US, we call espresso drinks by Italian names, but not the Italian names that Italians use; and then there’s the “no cappuccino after dinner” custom to deal with. But it’s hard to go wrong with un grand crème at any time!

What is something about you that has nothing to do with translation that is interesting or surprising? I play the Renaissance lute (on a very amateur level!). I started about two years ago and now play in a little early music ensemble with two women who’ve taken me on as their community service project; but I don’t dress up in Renaissance costumes (yet!).

What is your favorite quote? “To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.” – Leonard Bernstein

What have we not asked that you’d like to answer? Why do I love the FLD? That’s a good question! Because it’s given me a network of wonderful colleagues who will help with terminology questions at any hour of the day or night, because it helped me build the confidence to become more involved in ATA, and because the FLD always has the best division dinner at the conference!

Thanks, Corinne!

public domain photo of Marcel Proust

À Propos: Helping Heritage Language Learners, FLD style

ata-fld-newsletter-logoEarlier this year I was reflecting on how to best help my teenage daughter, whose spoken French and comprehension are great, improve her written French. Our personal goal is for her to be able to succeed in Advanced Placement French through her high school next year, with only one year of formal French instruction behind her. I thought of asking for advice on the FLD Facebook group because other members must have children older than mine and have been through this, or worked hard on bilingualism and got to this point earlier. Within hours I received many postulated ideas, constructive tips, and tales of success (and sometimes resignation). The content was worth compiling and sharing for posterity, hence this post for A Propos.
Those who contributed were Catherine Bellier-Igasaki, Jennifer Bikkal Horne, Nelia Fahloun, May Fung Danis, Anne Goff, Betty Howell, Eve Lindemuth Bodeux, Elke Miot, Bryna O’Sullivan, Bruce Popp, Patricia Thickstun, Anne Vincent, Caitilin Walsh and Carolyn Yohn. Thank you so much, everyone.

The tips came in many different styles and from many different angles, and in both English and French. Keep that varied context in mind as you read.Arsenal 2017 live streaming film

  • Find a book she has already read in English and read it in French–she would know the plot and characters, so she could focus more on the structures and new vocabulary (and she might find it easier to deduce the meanings of new words, since she already would know what they talked about when she read it in English);
  • Practice the French baccalaureate essays in a school subject field of interest;
  • https://fondationpgl.ca/accueil/ with both French and Canadian accents;
  • Write to grandparents (as opposed to Skype or phone calls);
  • Les dictées de Bernard Pivot. Il y a des textes pour les juniors;
  • https://famille-madore.fr/Atelecha/ortho5.pdf “100 dictées pour le C.M.2” Taken from various sources and presents lots of issues for non-native or heritage speakers, which would be helpful;
  • Writing activity: find song lyrics to something fun/popular/funny. Remove single words or whole phrases, then have them listen and fill in the blanks. Maybe start with something by Stromae;
  • Subscribe to French magazines for young people, to improve vocab and sense of grammar/writing;
  • French books or magazines may help, not necessarily Le Monde, but perhaps Géo;
  • Marie Claire has some interesting sections, especially on the condition of women and/or children in other countries;
  • Reading adult women’s/fashion magazines (or even some teen ones) may be a challenge, because there is so much slang and jargon;
  • Look at “Multilingual Living”;
  • Take classes at the local community college;
  • Review school homework in detail with your kids;
  • Use cahiers de vacances/weekend. Written French in various topics, usually math and “French language”. Have her do a few years behind her equivalent level in the US. Order them online from Amazon.fr or ask someone to send you some;
  • Do dictées from the France Culture news headlines every morning;
  • Best way to know how to write a language is to read it. Find a series of French books or a French writer she would find compelling. For instance, Agote Kristof’s series fast and is hard to stop. Le Grand Cahier is the first volume;
  • Use Projet Voltaire, a fun app for your phone. https://www.projet-voltaire.fr/ (Testez-vous et entraînez-vous gratuitement en orthographe et en grammaire) ;
  • Grammar-themed dictations https://www.ccdmd.qc.ca/fr/exercices_pdf/?id=37
  • https://www.charivarialecole.fr/ceintures-de-grammaire-cm-un-nouvel-exemple-de-cyber-cooperation-a59378391 I know that CM is way below her current grade level, but if there are gaps or weak points, going back to basics could be helpful;
  • CNED – https://www.cned.fr/ for expats, students, etc. – official French curriculum per subject – free (unless you have them correct it). Download subjects of interest;
  • https://www.france-universite-numerique-mooc.fr/cours/ Class on French language for second language speakers. She is kind of in between, but this is high level (for older students), and for people learning (writing) of French, so could be useful for her;
  • Go over a chapter of old elementary school French grammar books with anyone interested in sentence construction;
  • https://www.elycee.com/ They charge for their classes. Look at the syllabus they send for ideas to copy. They focus on advanced French learners/speakers in high school level;
  • https://www.youtube.com/user/netprof/featured French courses on YouTube in various subjects;
  • https://www.kartable.fr/ “Study for the Bac” here for free. Various levels and classes offered – focus is on written French;
  • Structured activities are very helpful, but I’d recommend something a little less structured as well. Have her keep a journal in French. She should write regularly without worrying too much about spelling or grammar. Whether she’s writing about her life, or telling stories – this will help train her brain for writing in French and it won’t feel so foreign anymore;
  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4PtrFz2Drjo;
  • Do dictées to cut down on the number of mistakes. They’re supposedly helpful because it involves mechanical memory. Whenever my husband (a French teacher) has a doubt about spelling, he always handwrites it. Read short passages out loud from a book. Read it once through at normal pace. Then reread each logical segment slowly as I write, repeating each segment 3 times;
  • Keep hope: some make giant leaps in French writing once they get to college;
  • Enjoy the ride no matter where you and your daughter end up.

Karen Tkaczyk

Karen Tkaczyk, CT, lives in Colorado which her French husband and three children. Her translation work is focused on chemistry and its industrial applications. She has an MChem in chemistry with French from the University of Manchester, a diploma in French, and a PhD in organic chemistry from the University of Cambridge. She can be contacted at karen@mcmillantranslation.com or @ChemXlator.