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Some examples about intercultural problems:

http://www.understandfrance.org/

WHY A WORD IS NOT JUST A WORD
or how to avoid the pitfalls of language and culture

Anybody knows how to translate: you just open your dictionary or type the word in Google and there you are.
Unfortunately that's sooner said than done, as words are not just words.

The French "axe" may be translated by 50 different words in English, depending on context and use. It may be a virtual axis in mathematics, or an axis, bolt, pin, shaft, staff or axle, and many others which are used in specific places and situations. So which one will you choose for your translation?
What's the difference between a lawyer, an attorney, a barrister, an advocate, and a solicitor?
Who cares? But certified documents for Courts require utmost accuracy.

You cannot pick one word at random, you will have to select the right one in the right place, namely know what you are doing, know the subject and BOTH languages AND cultures very well.

 

Some examples in technical documents :

and in law instruments:

Crochet (F)

in English : hook, bracket, pick, lockpick, brace, strap, eyebolt, shuttle.

Acte (F)

Deed, document, instrument, certificate, writ, articles, …

Rouleau (F)

in German : Walze, Trommel, Zylinder, Rolle, Wickler, Ring, Rad, Holz …

Act (En)

agir, jouer une pièce, comédie, numéro, loi…

Träger (D)

in French : bretelle, longeron, support, onde porteuse, vecteur, poutrelle, console, substrat …

Haften (D)

Adhérer, imprégner, couvrir, garantir, être responsable (financièrement), répondre de…

Anlage (D)

in English : plant, attachment, system, equipment, feed, rest, bearing, arrangement …

Indemnify (En)

Indemniser, rembourser, exempter, se porter-fort, protéger, défendre…

Bearing (En)

in French : palier, roulement, support, appui, coussinet, ouverture, orientation …

Season this with technicians' or lawyers' jargon – tripping breakers which don’t trip you before breaking anything, fish tape which has nothing to do with fish – and which do NOT translate word for word into any language. Word plays, insinuations, connotations. Even technical documents may contain unintentional word traps; a French vacuum cleaner is a (dust) "sucker"…. English "organic" food is "biological" on the Continent, either word originally meaning they are made from something vaguely edible – yet really understood as something special, untreated and natural.

Not to mention that the implied meaning may be very different from one culture to another.
A simple loaf of bread is not the same in your mind as for the Frenchman seeing his "baguette" or the German imagining some rye bread. This is essential in publicity, advertisement and marketing.
A "St.Petersburg garden light" has nothing to do with Russia, but is an implied reference to Florida and exclusive old fashioned lifestyle – which will not be understood outside North America.

A QUALIFIED TRANSLATOR CAN HELP YOU AVOID ANY SUCH PITFALLS.

Last but not least, if you think you know a foreign word just because it looks like the English one, the vast literature on "false friends" will help keep you amused for quite some time. The German GIFT is poison, and the French AXE above has nothing to do with an English woodcutter's tool.
"MIST" will exclaim a German ("drat"), not having the foggiest idea that his "midden" is misunderstood as "missed" at the best, or met with a quizzical stare across the language haze.

DO TRUST A QUALIFIED TRANSLATOR – WE KNOW WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT.

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