Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Water Flosser/Hydropropulseur

Following the advice of my dentist, I recently spent some time  shopping for and purchasing a Waterpik brand water flosser.  What surprised me the most is the French name the device had been given: hydropropulseur (literally a water propeller, as in boat propeller).

Sur les conseils de mon dentiste, j’ai récemment étudié les différents appareils dentaires à jet d’eau  et mon choix s’est arrêté sur le Water Flosser de Waterpik.  L’appellation française m’a surpris :  Hydropropulseur.

The verb floss has become quite known in dental care now, and is usually associated with a thin silken thread that one forces between one’s teeth to remove food particles and plaque.  This is mostly a mechanical approach and requires guidance and practice to obtain best results. So a water flosser is a device that removes these particles using  water.

Le verbe  floss n’a pas d’équivalent exact en Français mais l’usage de cette technique est dorénavant bien connu dans le domaine de l’hygiène dentaire.  Le lecteur connait la soie dentaire, qui est disponible en plusieurs épaisseurs, est  destinée à enlever mécaniquement les particules logées entre les dents et enlever la plaque dentaire. Le malheur ici est que le terme Hydropropulseur ne fait aucune allusion aux  soins dentaires. Il s’agit d’une fausse traduction.

The French hydropropulseur is a very poor equivalent as it really  means water propeller – a device that propels water. No explanation is supplied that it has to do with flossing, teeth or dental hygiene.  The translator(s)  failed to indicate that it is used for flossing teeth with the help of a jet of water.

Of course, consumers are supposed to understand English even when they do not use it. And it appears as though no one has checked that the French product description makes sense.  Of course, you can Google “hydropropulseur” and out come the main brands – Water Pik, Oral B, Panasonic, AEG, Braun.  Some add the qualifiers  ‘bucco-dentaire’, dentaire, à jet, jet dentaire, which proves that the translator was not comfortable with just using Hydropropulseur alone.

Un peu ironique: le client francophone comprendra naturellement l’Anglais, même s’il ne s’en sert pas couramment.  Aucune validation de cette appellation ne semble pas avoir être faite. Une recherche sur Google semble répéter  l’idiotie :  les fabricants principaux  - Water Pik, Oral B, Panasonic, AEG, Braun utilisent le mot Hydropropulseur.  Admettons que certains y accolent les qualificatifs bucco-dentaire, dentaire, à jet, jet dentaire, ce qui montre que le traducteur n’était pas satisfait de la présence du mot hydropropulseur tout seul.

So does one follow the leader and use the same ‘akward’ description or do a bit of research and suggest, maybe, “Irrigateur inter-dentaire”.  Irrigateur implying  liquid  irrigation and inter-dentaire meaning between the teeth.

Alors on fait comme la concurrence ou on prend un peu de temps pour réfléchir, de faire des recherches et d’employer à sa place l’expression “Irrigateur inter-dentaire” ce qui dit exactement ce que cet appareil fait.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Continental Tire bulletin PSIB 07-01 on the use of nitrogen / Bulletin technique sur le nitrogène dans les pneus

Les pneus sont conçus et fabriqués pour offrir plusieurs kilomètres
d’excellent service mais pour ce, ils doivent être entretenus adéquatement.

Tires are designed and built to provide many miles of
excellent service but must be maintained properly.

While reading information on some tires that were provided with a new vehicle, I came upon this bulletin regarding the use of nitrogen. The introductory sentence is a typical example of one word: many meanings.

In European French (i.e. from France, Belgium, Switzerland), the word plusieurs is the equivalent of the English several. Thus one can say un pneu, deux pneus, plusieurs pneus (the number of which is small but not specified). In Canada, and more specifically in Québec, plusieurs is actually the equivalent of many, more than 2 or 3, but without specifying the number.

The challenge in international translation is to find words and expressions which have the same meaning and would be understood in several locales or countries. Thus, at least two other ways of saying this would have been:

1      Les pneus sont fabriqués pour offrir un grand nombre de kilomètres
2      Les pneus sont fabriqués pour offrir un nombre important de kilomètres

In both cases, the sentence would have been properly understood both in Europe and in Québec.

La documentation sur les pneus livrés avec une voiture neuve mentionnait l’utilisation du nitrogène pour le gonflage des pneus. La version française dit : plusieurs kilomètres. Cette expression est équivalente à l’anglais seulement au Québec, où plusieurs signifie un grand nombre. Le même texte lu en France serait risible, car il voudrait dire "a small number ", un petit nombre de kilomètres.

Petit détail mais qui vaut la peine de surveiller, le lecteur de chaque pays interprétant son texte de sa propre façon.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Package design fiasco/Un emballage raté

During a recent visit to the local Home Depot, I found an orange tube with some material in it. The label said: Traffic T-Shirt.  The French caption said Chemise de circulation. Intrigued, I read further and realized that the item had nothing to do with traffic (flow of vehicles), as the French wording stated. 

A visit to the Home Depot website provided the following picture and copy:
Workhorse high-visibility traffic safety shirt acts as way of prevention and protection against accidents and injuries while working on the road. Its durable and breathable material has been engineered to wick moisture from the inside of the fabric. Certified to CSA Z96 class 2, level 2.
  • Two tone reflective Stripes
  • Breathable and durable
  • 100% high-visibility polyester
  • Machine washable
  • Meets CSA Z96 

  • Chemise de circulation W/ Stripes,Taille L

    The French copy is totally different from the English copy.  Chandails de signalisation orange à haute visibilité. 100% polyester, matériel (mailles) qui garde au sec. Ruban réflechissant argenté avec ruban jaune. Ne retient pas la transpiration.Certifié à la norme CSA Z96 de classe 2, niveau 2
    • Bandes Réfléchissantes
    • Confortable et durable
    • 100% Polyester haute-visibilité
    • Lavable à la machine

  • I decided to check the CSA site to discover that the certification applies to high visibility safety apparel used in the construction industry, not traffic at all. 

    The English text is emphasizing the traffic safety aspect  but does not describe the colour or shape of the stripes. The French, on the other hand, provides a much more technical description but states that this clothing is for signaling purposes. No mention of road traffic.

    Two questions: 1) who created this copy and what were they trying to do?  2) who checked the French to ensure that  the original English description was translated properly? 

    Finally, I did a global Google search for this type of clothing and found many items resembling it. The description?  Gilet réflecteur de sécurité routière i.e. Road Safety Reflective Vest. 

    One wonders how the potential purchaser reacts to this? I certainly was confused and annoyed by the sloppy copywriting and translation. Home Depot, are you listening?