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: http://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.