Getting the translation of your documents right can be very tricky. The French language is spoken widely around the world but there are a few differences depending on where your translation is intended for use.
Our native French translators are professional, qualified and accredited linguists who can deliver your translation in Standard, Swiss, Canadian and African French dialects.
Belgium, Benin, Burkino Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Haiti, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Mali, Martinique, Mauritania, Mauritius, Miquelon, Monaco, Morroco, Niger, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Saint Barthelemy, St. Martin, Saint-Pierre, Senegal, Seychelles, Switzerland, Togo.
For your free country guide to France click here.
France -people, culture, language: A guide for businesses
France today: With a population of 59 million, France is the second largest country in Western Europe (after Russia). A strong regional culture, rich natural resources and a strong enterprise spirit have attracted foreign investment and created a dynamic economy. The capital Paris, with 9.8 million inhabitants, is the country’s economic and political base. In spite of devolution, France still has a centralised administrative and political system focused on the capital.
Environment: Known as the Hexagon, after its shape, France extends from plains and forests in the North and East to the tropical Mediterranean coast of the Côte D’Azur in the South. With the mountains of the Jura and the Alps in the South East, to the Atlantic coastline to the West, France has astonishing variety. France is divided into France Métropolitaine and the Départements d’outre mer or DOM Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guiana and Réunion, together with the Territoires d’Outre Mer or TOM of Mayotte, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, French Polynesia, the French Antarctic and St Pierre et Miquelon.
Growth sectors: Automotive industry, IT and electronics, food and drink, tourism and finance.
Other information: France is famous for the regional variety of its wine and its food as well as for the great culinary traditions of its Michelin-starred restaurants. Visits to the wineries of the Loire valley or to Lyons France’s other gastronomic capital, or to the Côte’ d’Azur, France’s Mediterranean coast, are highlights of the visitor’s trip. France has 11 national holidays, including Roman Catholic holidays, such as the feast of the ascension in May and the Assumption of the Virgin Mary on August 15th, and political holidays, such as Bastille Day on July 4th, commemorating the French Revolution in 1789. New Year’s Day in France is a major festival, known as St. Sylvestre, after its patron saint.
Did you know?
Marianne is the symbol of France, symbolised by paintings and statues of her in a red and blue sash and revolutionary cap, storming the barricades in the French revolution. A French actress is regularly chosen to be the model for ‘Marianne’ and France was scandalized when a ‘Marianne’ was photographed nude for a magazine.
Educated: In France, education, intelligence and eloquence are high priorities. Children study philosophy in school and logical thinking and a liking for abstract argument is a French characteristic, which can cause problems for more pragmatic practically minded British counterparts.
Entrepreneurial: There are close links between industry and government and the top echelons of both are educated at the Grandes Ecoles, graduate schools entered by competitive examination. To be an ‘enarch’, graduate of the Ecole Nationale d’Administration, is to be marked as a future political or business leader.
Frenchness: The French are very aware of the status and power of being ‘French’ and invest in projects aimed at increasing French prestige and position in the world. They are also excited by novelty and gadgetry, which will uphold and enhance the prestige of France. It is important if you are dealing with France regularly to learn the language in order to earn the respect and co-operation of its people.
Formality and correctness: The French are quite formal in public and preserve the distinction between the family ‘tu’ and the formal ‘vous’. You should expect to use ‘vous’ with people you know until they invite you to use ‘tu’. Saying ‘Bonjour Monsieur’ or ‘Bonjour Madame’ is important in greetings and it’s to preserve a degree of formality until you get to know people.
Catholicism and Islam: Although church attendance is falling, the Roman Catholic church is important in France but there are also about a million Muslims, mainly from North Africa, especially Algeria. The French word Bistrot, a small restaurant serving quick meals, comes from the Russian, meaning ‘quick’. The word was imported by Russian troops who occupied Paris during the Paris Commune revolution after the war of 1870. ‘La grande dictée’, a national spelling bee, attracts 300,000 entrants a year and seven million viewers on TV.
Official Language: French. French is Britain’s first foreign language and many French words have been imported into English from the time of Norman invasion of Britain in 1066. However, the pronunciation and grammar of French is very different to English, although the language influence has now gone into the reverse, with many English words imported into French, to the chagrin of the Académie Française, the guardian of the French language.
Finding translators/interpreters: Expert Language Solutions provides quality-assured, native tongue professionals to meet your individual business needs.
Basic French phrases: The positive impression you will make by learning to
speak a few basic French phrases cannot be overestimated. Below are some commonly-used phrases – if you are interested in learning the French language, you can search for professional trainers and courses at www.expertlanguages.com
Hello: Bonjour (Bohn-zhoor)
Good evening: Bonsoir (Bohn-swahr)
Goodbye: Au revoir (Ohr-vwah)
Yes / no: Oui / non (Wee/nohn)
Please: S’il vous plaît (Seel voo pleh)
Thank you: Merci (Mairsee)
How are you?: Ça va? (Sah vah)
I’m fine: Ça va bien (Sah vah bee-ahn)
My name is…: Je m’appelle (Zhuh map-elle)
What is your name?: Comment t’appelles-tu? (Koh mawn tah-pell tew?)
Business culture and etiquette
French business is very top down and run by highly qualified technocrats, very concerned with and aware of the details of the business process. It’s important to be ‘correcte’ in style and manner and to be ‘serieux’ (professional). Differences in hierarchy and recognition of specialist qualifications are important. Since 1992 sexual harassment in business has been a crime and women have professional equality, but women’s salaries still tend to be lower than men’s. For a French woman, style and elegance are part of her business armoury. French companies take time over decisions and an important part of French decision making is to examine a problem or proposition from every angle. In France it is considered rude to end a meeting if the business to be conducted is not concluded, which can affect overall punctuality. Building relationships are important in French business and people do not like to be rushed. Lunches and dinners are important relationship building opportunities. Much of France stops work between midday and 2pm and in August many firms close down for the annual summer break. Keeping in contact with French counterparts over a long period is important to build the relationship. Don’t be in a hurry, use logical arguments rather than hard sell and remember the French get bored very easily. Don’t blame people. Say there is a problem, not ‘It’s your fault’ if something goes wrong.