Elementary Translations

Elementary Translations

Elementary Translations
Office hours

Monday - Friday:

9.00 am - 5.00 pm (Paris time)

Séverine Watson EI

Your words. Your passion.

In English.

+33 (0)783674385

3125 Chemin du Roi

32430 Saint Georges, France

SIRET: 880 194 303 00025

The tale of a missing letter


The tale of a missing letter

Surprise - having your work translated by a person can be a surprising last line of defence prior to print!

📖 Let me tell you a story about how the omission or the addition of a single letter can have a real effect on how your readers understand your texts. 📖


A typo (shorthand for typological error) is a mistake that occurs in printed texts. A person simply needs to be distracted at the wrong moment and instead of typing “life”, he or she writes “lift”.


Now, if you’re lucky, spellcheck or proofreading before print may spot and correct the error, but what happens if that doesn’t happen?


🦸 Well, that’s where a translator may well be your saviour! 🦸


Here’s a real-life example taken from a document that I was translating from French into English: the word in question was such a small, inoffensive one – the French adverb “ci-dessus”, meaning above or aforementioned.


❌The problem was that the writer should have put “ci-dessous”, meaning below or hereafter.


Quite the contradiction, I’m sure you’ll agree, and it’s one that is particularly troublesome in contracts.


Now, if the error hasn't been spotted before translation, then how you choose to go about translating will have a real impact on the end result:


  1. If you opt for a translation using a free online translation tool such as Google Translate, it will translate exactly as per the source document, which means that the error will also be present in the translation. That mistake may continue to be overlooked both inhouse and by clients, but if your clients pick it up, that’s unfortunate and totally avoidable. 🤦
  2. If you get someone who has reasonable linguistic skills to translate, meanwhile, if they have been paying attention to the text as a whole, then chances are they may spot the inconsistency. But then again, they may not... you choose.
  3. 💡 Your last option (and by far the best) is to get a qualified and experienced translator to do this work. 💡 Thanks to their training, they know to read the document in full beforehand to understand what the writer wanted to convey, and they have the skills to not only spot the issue but also flag it up for correction.


Translators don’t just translate words; we translate meaning.


The name of the game for translators like me is to be meticulous and to go through documents with a fine-tooth comb. So, when I see something that is totally out of keeping with what has been said before, or if anything is open to interpretation, I always flag the issue up before delivery.


Remember, if you want great texts and great translations, then you really do need great wordsmiths! ✍️