There’s no denying how helpful English to French translation software and apps can be, especially if you’re a tourist trying to engage with the people around you. However in the business world, where French remains a key language, even the best English to French translation technology won’t get you very far. All entrepreneurs know that detail and precision are crucial to a successful venture abroad, and unfortunately this accuracy can’t be guaranteed when relying on automated language translation software. So why are so many businesses still turning to AI to help them communicate on a global level?
There are many things that English to French translation apps won’t ever come close to achieving compared to professional human French translators. Here are several scenarios where you should not turn to technology for your linguistic needs (as well as a few examples where a simple app can help you!).
Three Things You Can’t Do With An English To French Translation App
Communicate on a professional level
Perhaps the biggest problem with English to French translation apps is how little the output resembles natural conversation. The software is incapable of considering the nuances and intricacies of human language, and even though the algorithms have improved, AI still tends to favour word-for-word translations. Not only will these often read rigidly and awkwardly, but this method also ignores important cultural and contextual factors that professional human translators are trained to take into account.
For example, English to French translation apps struggle to comprehend idioms. “Caught between a rock and a hard place” translates figuratively to “pris entre le marteau et l’enclume”, or “caught between the hammer and the anvil”. While a professional translator would replace this saying with a suitable French alternative, a language app would totally dilute the meaning in a way which would be intelligible in either language.
However you’re communicating with French businesspeople, it will be incredibly difficult to sound convincing or confident when you’re using an English to French app. You’ll struggle to convey a reputable, businesslike image if your written correspondence is littered with mistakes, with the potential to be confusing and possibly even offensive in worst-case scenarios. The same goes for conversations by phone or video chat, which could quickly become uncomfortable if you are having to pause for automated app translations after each sentence. In these cases, professional interpretation services offer a much better alternative.
Grow an international business
When you aspire to grow your business internationally, you have to prepare a significantly higher number of deals, meetings and documents in other languages. And if you’re planning to expand into Francophone countries, even the best English to French translation app won’t be designed for usage on this scale.
For example, all legal paperwork must be accurately translated and fully understood by your French collaborators, clients and customers. Such an undertaking can never be left to an unreliable English to French translation app, particularly when it is unlikely to parse complicated legal terminology and concepts. Just one unfortunate mishap could do great harm to your business, which is why you should always have your documents translated by professional legal linguists.
Translation apps aren’t particularly useful at documenting important conversations either. Recording and then replaying the French parts of a conversation to an app would be extremely inefficient and time-consuming, and you can’t know for sure whether the software even understands the words as they are intended. Professional translation agencies, on the other hand, can typically offer transcription services which guarantee 100% accurate write-ups of all vocal business communications.
Gain an insight into the culture
French customers will immediately recognise a poor translation, and may be put off engaging with businesses who seemingly can’t be bothered to communicate with them properly. However, an audience will engage with content that is not only accurate but specifically tailored to them. English to French apps won’t help you here either, as they can’t give you any insights into the country’s culture. Luckily, professional translators do have this knowledge and, therefore, a better understanding of your business’s markets and core demographics.
For example, many translators also offer localisation services, which means adapting the translation to a particular location. As culture and context varies between different places, a piece of content translated for your Parisian customers will not be the same as what’s offered to those living in Bordeaux, Nice or Lille. English to French translation apps, however, will make no distinction between the specificities of various demographics and dialects, so these translations could feel less relevant to readers in different parts of the country.
Three Things You Can Do With An English To French App
Have casual client conversations
If you are emailing a client to briefly check-in, or for any other casual purposes, it’s appropriate to use an English to French translation app. Your messages won’t be perfect, but the recipient should be understanding, seeing as they know you aren’t a French speaker. Just ensure these exchanges don’t involve any important business details or decisions, as a professional translator will definitely be more appropriate in those cases.
Navigate a city
Once you do business with French organisations, you’ll probably have to travel to France for meetings and negotiations. Whether you want to translate words on a map or ask passersby for directions, in these circumstances, an app is a handy tool to help you navigate a new city.
Order food and drink
It’s recommended that you bring a professional interpreter if you’re meeting a client over a meal in France. Though you should rely on them for the majority of the conversation, there’s no harm in turning to an English to French translation app for help with ordering your food and drink. At least that way, your business companion can see that you’re taking control and making the effort to engage with the French language where you can.