Lost in Translation: Why Fluency Matters
So you’re at a point in your business where you need to put all your English content into French to make your website bilingual. Great! But where do you start? Instead of trying to summon some of your broken high-school French, look for the most important aspect of translation: fluency.
While knowing the approximate meaning of something in another language is ok if you’re a tourist in search of the local theatre, your business needs the exactness and sensibility of a fluent, native speaker. You want every phrase and every word to say what it intends to say.
Online translators lack the capacity to distinguish tone, meaning and common phrases. While they usually work for single-word translation (even then they don’t know how to decipher context), using them for phrases will give you a direct word-for-word translation. And those are never pretty.
Things like grammatical structure, verbiage and masculine/feminine word distinctions differ between languages. These are all things that only a real human being who is fluent in both given languages can fully understand. This real person’s real-life experience in talking the talk is what you need for the best translation service. It’s worth it for your business — because we take it seriously the way you take your business seriously.
Our translators are native Quebecois French speakers that could give your high-school French teacher a run for her money. If you’re looking for perfectly, exactly and fluently translated content, you’re at the right place.
Has reading the title confused you yet? That’s ok. We’re here to give you the who’s who on all the whos — complete with examples. Let’s start with the singulars and move on to the plurals later.
Put simply, who is the subject and whom is the object of a sentence. There is a very easy trick to use to know you’re always using the right one. Rework the sentence using he or him, and that will give you your answer: who = he, whom = him.
Who/whom wrote the article? He wrote it; therefore, it’s who.
Who/whom was the article about? It was about him; therefore it’s whom.
To who/whom is the article being delivered? It’s delivered to him; therefore it’s whom.
This one is almost always used incorrectly. However, it’s a very easy distinction. Who’s is a contraction for who is or who has. Whose is used to show possession. Whose as a possessive is often confused because possessives usually use an apostrophe + s (Mike’s shoes, Cindy’s dress, Brad’s party). But, in the case of whose, there is no apostrophe.
Who’s going to the party tonight?
Whose party is it?
Who’s been to one of Brad’s parties before?
Who’s going as whose guest?
Simple enough, right?
To hyphenate, or not to hyphenate?
What’s the difference between state-of-the-art technology and technology being state of the art? Compound modifiers are two or more words expressing a single concept, as in the previous example. Hyphenating in this context is very commonly done the wrong way. So we’re here to clear things up.
Depending on where in a sentence you use compound modifiers decides whether or not you hyphenate them.
Most simply, these words are hyphenated when they are used before a noun to be used as an adjective:
We had an action-packed weekend.
In this case, weekend (the noun) is being described by action-packed (the adjective). Therefore, a hyphen is used.
They aren’t hyphenated when they come after the noun:
Our weekend was action packed.
As with any rule in the English language, there are (of course) exceptions. Compound modifiers are not hyphenated before the noun if the word very or an adverb ending in –ly is used:
The very hot sun burned our skin. VS. The white-hot sun burned our skin.
Here are a few more comparative examples to illustrate how it works:
She ran her fingers through his salt-and-pepper hair.
His hair was salt and pepper in colour.
He quit his part-time job.
His job was part time, so he quit.
She is a well-known seamstress in her community.
That seamstress is well known in her community.
He stepped outside to feel the bone-chilling cold on his face.
The cold he felt on his face was bone chilling.
The Breakdown on Brackets
Brackets are components of punctuation that are often misunderstood. People either use them too much when they get so caught up in side notes that the entire sentence loses direction, or they’re not sure when to use them properly and avoid them altogether.
When the appropriate time comes, brackets can add value to a sentence by clearing some things up. Here’s the rundown on brackets, so you know how to find a happy medium in your writing.
Round Brackets ( )
Round brackets (also called parentheses) add information to the rest of the sentence to make things clearer. This information, however, is not essential to the sentence. So, if you were to remove the bracketed information, the sentence can stand alone and still make sense. Here’s an example to illustrate this:
Jack (despite being against the notion) stayed in on Friday night to do his laundry.
Jack stayed in on Friday night to do his laundry.
Both sentences convey the same action, but the one with the bracketed information has an added level of context.
Square Brackets [ ]
Most commonly used in academic writing when referencing something, square brackets come into play when you want to include a piece of information that isn’t from the original writer of the sentence to modify what’s been written originally. The information within square brackets comes from an outside source, typically as a way to put the point in perspective. Again, here’s an example to make this clear:
He [the mailman] ran as fast as he could when the dog started chasing him.
Square brackets are also used the same way as round brackets when you need brackets within brackets (…[…]…). Whether you’re using round or square brackets, remember that they always come before punctuation marks like commas and periods.