Tools to help you write French
Does the thought of having to write something in French strike fear in your heart? Me too. It’s quite possible that some of the things I’ve written are circulating the internet as thigh-slappingly funny examples of really bad written French. (or badly written French – although the two things are different)
Over the years I’ve discovered various aids to writing in French.
French grammar books
I love books but I find that I don’t really use reference books anymore. I use a computer so much that it’s an interruption to have to stop, grab a book, and looks things up. There is one book that I use all the time. Collins Gem French Verb Tables although I think it may be out of print. It’s a small book, just a bit bigger than a deck of cards.
Online English French translation resources
Ultralingua Online Dictionary is on my bookmark toolbar so I can access it quickly. The link will take you to the conjugation tool because that’s what I use most often. They have a tool called Count where you enter a number and it returns the written number – 97 is quatre-vingt-dix-sept in French. As well there’s a definition and translation tool that tells you a banana n. in English is a
banane n.f. in French.
Lexique informatique officieux de la Commission ministérielle de terminologie informatique is a really long way of saying glossary of information technology (computing) terms
List and Glossary of medical terms is a little bit complicated to use but give you the French medical term as well as the commonly used term.
There are hundreds of specialised dictionaries and glossaries online. OneLook is a dictionary search portal. You pick the language and the type of subject and then choose from a list.
Dictionnaires Belair is a good place to find the meaning of French acronyms. Or at least the words that make up the acronym. You’ll still have to figure out what the group does.
Software translation tools
I use the Oxford Superlex for Windows – the Oxford Hachette Dictionary English French. The version I have is about 8 years old, I’m waiting for the new version to arrive. It’s quick and easy, you don’t have to be online to use it, and you can copy words to the clipboard and then paste them into your document so you get all the accents.
English French Translators
When I have something serious or official to write I get someone to translate it for me. I e-mail her the English document, she e-mails back the French translation. A bonus, she’s French and has a French keyboard so all the accents are in the translation.
Don’t ever use machine translators like Babelfish unless you want people to think that you channeled the guy who wrote English as She is Spoke.