Monthly Archives: February 2014

An Important Consideration in Website Translation

By | Translations | No Comments

We’ve considered the benefits of website translation in previous blog posts.  Today we will outline a potential pitfall.

A common request we hear after translating a website or a part of a website into French is to “make it shorter.”  This is because French text is, on average, 20% longer than English.  That means that the same passage, paragraph or sentence will take up 20% more space in French than in English.  Any web designer will tell you that managing “white space” and minimizing the amount of text on a website are keys to effective presentation.  This is something that needs to be considered when planning to translate your website.

The French cannot really be shortened once translated, or rather, the translator cannot shorten it.  The translator’s job is to accurately and effectively translate the material, once that is done, they cannot simply shorten the material.  The words are what they are, they cannot be shortened just like we can’t simply shorten words like in English.

There are a couple reasons for this, one is simply that words in French are longer.  “River” in French is “rivière”, which is about 30% longer.  The other reason is the use of “de” or “of” in French nouns. “Information technology” is “technologie de l’information” in French, this addition of “de” accounts for much of the increase in length in French.  It is also not possible to simply remove “de”, it simply wouldn’t make sense.

Keep this fact in mind when planning on translating your website into French.  Allow for extra room in the English version or rewrite your copy in French so that it is shorter.  AZ World has extensive experience in dealing with these challenges and is always ready to take on your project.