A few words to get you by…France – Vol 1

Do you know your “mange-tout’s” from your “Chateau Neuf du Pape’s”?


Communicating in a different language can be challenging at the best of times and getting into a pickle is easily done.


To avoid these embarrassing situations, Communique Communications and their team of professional translators and interpreters have put together a few helpful phrases and expressions to help you through meeting and greeting your French counterparts whether it may be for business or pleasure.


10 useful French phrases:


  • Hello: Bonjour
  • Goodbye: Au Revoir
  • How are you?: Comment-allez-vous (polite form)
  • Thank you: Merci
  • Please: S’il vous plait
  • Excuse me: Excusez-moi ( polite form)
  • Welcome: Bienvenue
  • You are welcome: De rien
  • I’m looking for…: Je cherche…
  • Sorry/ Excuse me: Pardon


Don’t forget that if you are doing business in France or with a French native, using the polite form of French is best practice. Unlike the UK, most continental countries don’t do business on a first name basis. Using “Monsieur”, “Madame” or “Mademoiselle” and their surname will be better received. Greetings, small talk and etiquette are paramount and if any of these can be done in French, all the better. This will demonstrate an interest in developing a long term relationship.


Communique Communications provide professional translation and interpreting services from and into French and over 100 other languages to help you with your meetings and international relations. If you would like to read more on this subject or for other news on the translation industry, please subscribe to our blog. You can also follow us on Twitter or like us on Facebook to receive future updates.


Lost In Translation

Our quarterly round up of translational errors from around the world, sourced and compiled for your reading pleasure by Communique Communications Ltd.
1. “British Journalist in shock over claims his book denies occurrence of Nanking Massacre”


World renowned British Journalist Henry Scott-Stokes is reportedly “horrified” after his bestselling book entitled “Falsehoods of the Allied Nations’ Victorious View of World History” was released in Japanese with huge inconsistencies to the facts he had dictated during translation.


Contrary to the original, it is said that the Japanese-language book alleges the Chinese government falsified the Nanking Massacre for its own political gain.


Scott-Stokes states that Hiroyuki Fujita, a translator who is a member of the nationalist group “The Society for the Dissemination of Historical Fact” had spent 170 hours with him whilst he dictated his book for translation into Japanese, however, somewhere during this process some of the core facts have been taken out of context and subsequently relayed a message of “Far right wing propaganda” to which Scott-Stokes vehemently denies portraying in his original version.


Scott-Stokes’ original / English version did state that China had exaggerated the figure of 300,000 victims of the Imperial Japanese Army in Nanjing, however this appears to have been translated as a denial of the atrocities occurrence for overall political purpose.


When approached for comment by the South China Morning Post, Fujita stated there had been “a lot of misleading explanations” put forward and that a statement would be released through the web site of publisher Shodensha.


Source: South China Morning Post


  1. French Restaurant Menu Offers its customers “Stomach, Guts and Foot”


As far as miss-translations go, this is pretty appalling! Food critics at the Boston Herald were understandably shocked by the error presented to them in their menu whilst dining in Bayeux.


The word Tripe or ‘Tripes’ (in French) is defined as being the edible offal belonging to less appealing cuts of any given animal. However, not only has this calamitous translator missed out on the fact that the English language also has a similar term, they’ve added insult to injury by providing an extremely non-appetising description of the content of tripe! (just in case you didn’t know…!).


We believe in this example the translator was far from a professional and searched the term on Google without localisation or research.
Source: Boston Herald


3. Do Not Leave Your Children Unsurprised!


A selection of embossed steel signs installed in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park have left native English speaking visitors in hysterics having been miss-translated to laughable standard.


The signs, which were installed during May 2014, are the typical regulatory signs we see in parks across the world, with a twist of course. The finest example translated instructs parents not to leave their children ‘unsurprised’. Fortunately for the local authority responsible for maintaining the park, visitors have taken no notice of the poorly translated signage and their children enjoy their days spent revelling in Victoria Park without fear of un-notified shock from their parental guardians.


Source: SCMP


We at Communique hope that you have enjoyed the above selection of miss-translations from around the world. If you would like to receive our next quarterly round up of ‘Lost in Translation’ please subscribe to our blog, follow us on twitter or like our facebook page for the next update.


Cross Cultural Communications Vol. 1


A very warm welcome to our first blog article on cross cultural communications, where we will be highlighting some key examples of good and bad communicational habits to be adopted when meeting with clients overseas or even whilst travelling for leisure.


Listed below are our first 10 suggestions on acceptable and non-acceptable communications whilst visiting China.


  1. Emotional expression and emphasis on emotion is common place is communicating in the English language, however in China this is not the case and it is therefore recommended to tone down the use of facial expression to reinforce your point. The Chinese believe there is virtue in concealing your emotions.


  1. Hierarchy is very important to most Eastern cultures and it is considered respectable to greet the most senior person within a group first, acknowledging them as the key person or decision maker. In business this may be the CEO, or in family matters it may be the father.


  1. Exchanging business cards or greetings cards with both hands emphasises the consideration and respect toward the individual you are presenting them to or receiving them from. Be sure to look at the card before putting it away.


  1. Try to avoid pointing at objects, people or places with the index finger and replace with an open hand. This is considered less aggressive and is therefore better received by those watching you.


  1. Contrary to popular belief, gift giving in business situations can be considered bribery and is to be approached with caution. A safe gift to give is to pay for food or beverages shared in a group. There are exceptions to this rule, however in most primary meetings giving gifts can be taken the wrong way.


  1. Names and surnames are reversed in Chinese, you will therefore find that on most occasions people are addressed surname first, first name last.


  1. Unlike in the UK, it is not considered impolite to ask direct personal questions during a first meeting. This is the Chinese way of small talk which is considered respectful to discuss before business matters. Such conversation may include questions relating to your age, salary, job, marital status etc. Try to be as honest and forthcoming as possible as evasiveness does not invoke confidence in the Chinese culture.


  1. Translation of your marketing or sales materials prior to a meeting is highly recommended. Do not use Google translate! Have the documentation translated professionally by a translator or translation agency (such as Communique!) who offer the necessary experience and understanding of the content at hand. A poor translation will not win you the business!


  1. Certain colours have subliminal meaning in China, this is worth considering when dressing for a meeting or producing marketing or sales materials. Red = Prosperity and Happiness, Gold = Nobility and Wealth, White = Commiseration and Sympathy.


  1. You may find that people in China avoid eye contact during conversation. In the UK this is deemed as untrustworthy, however in China it is not intended nor received in that manner. As indicated above, to contain ones emotions is considered to be virtuous and this is perhaps the underlying reason why eye contact is often avoided.


We at Communique Communications Ltd hope that you have enjoyed reading the first volume of our tips on cross cultural communications. We will be releasing a new article every week, so if you would like to read more on this subject or for other news on the translation industry, please subscribe to our blog, follow us on twitter or like us on facebook for future updates.