See our Facebook page about 10 key differences between the French and the English!

There are many differences between the French and the English. This includes how they train their dogs and teabags with strings on. What’s quite interesting for us as translators is the different ways in which the French and the English see the world – cultural differences. By this I mean, what the French see as “normal” is not the same as what the English see as “normal”.

French cakes and biscuits

Take biscuits and cakes. For the Brits, biscuits and cakes are an occasional indulgence – a treat. And let’s be honest – a pain au chocolat (delicious, buttery, flaky dough wrapped around dark chocolate) is a CAKE. For the French, however, washed down with freshly brewed coffee, it’s BREAKFAST. Another breakfast variation is brioche – which is a bit like the dough you get in a currant bun (my French husband is practically fainting with horror at this comparison).

The French love their butter to be pure

The other thing to note is the importance of butter when you select your sweet treat – everything (biscuits and cakes) is always labelled “pur beurre” (pure butter) so that is obviously very important to the French psyche. Why are these differences of interest to us, as translators, you may ask?

French culture and English culture

It’s because good knowledge of cultural differences is so important. It helps us to put across our customers’ information accurately in our translations. It doesn’t matter whether it’s from English to French or  English to French- it will read in more of a positive way. Machine translation is all very well, but you can always tell it’s that, can’t you? You might not be able to explain exactly why, but it will just feel wrong. Sometimes it makes silly (or even dangerous) errors.   This is because humans understand how things work and are sensitive to subtle variations in meanings.  A computer which is just trying to substitute words and phrases from one language to the other just can’t hack it.