Colo rats d'eau? Allons-y!

Yesterday, ever-observant EN>FR translator Marianne Reiner sent me a link to an article about my hometown, Boulder CO, in the online French publication Courrier International. In addition to being just plain amusing (I think I’ll start referring to Boulder as “a mini-Copenhagen with a view” as the author does!), this article struck me as illustrative of a few good lessons for translators.

  • It’s interesting to get a “client’s-eye view” of your own environment, because it helps you understand the client’s perspective. For me, it’s an everyday occurrence to see someone delivering pizzas in a Prius or to get passed on a running trail by someone who’s training for the Olympics, but it’s fascinating to see what a French person thinks of those phenomena. Takeaway: keep up with news about your country/city/political situation that’s written by speakers of your non-English languages in order to understand their perspective.
  • It’s fun and useful to keep up with neo-terms that are specific to your location/interests, etc. In this article I learned some new expressions for Boulderesque concepts such as “zero-waste policy” “bohemian lifestyle” “carbon fiber” “solar-powered heating system” and more.
  • As Marianne perceptively suggested to me, this could have an interesting business angle. A few ideas popped into my head; many of these don’t apply to what I do, but could work well for other translators: visit the businesses that are profiled in this article and suggest that since French tourists are already visiting their establishments and more (armed with this article and their extra-strength euros) will surely be coming, shouldn’t their menu/brochure/advertisement/guided tour be translated into French? Ditto with the local chamber of commerce: the U.S. is a euro-earner’s oyster, so let’s invite the French to (as the article suggests!) come bike, hike, eat organic food and meditate in Boulder. How about a French-speaking guided tour of downtown hotspots? A linguistic entrepreneur could also contact the publication where this article appeared and/or the writer, and let them know that when the French come to Boulder, we’re all set with French-language materials and services to welcome them.

Obviously, these tips have to be customized depending on the situation, but it struck me as a good moment to think about both outside-the-box marketing and ways to capitalize on new trends in the global economy.

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