February 25, 2010

Recommended legal and business dictionaries

Many people working with French do so in a business environment. Perhaps you have to liaise with the French head office of the company you work for. Or perhaps your UK business is in the process of negociating a deal with another French company. Or maybe your Canadian business wishes to address both English-speaking and French-speaking customers. Finally, if you are a professional translator like myself, you probably get asked to translate business documents on a regular basis.

I've included on the French Linguistics site some information about three French business and legal dictionaries that I recommend for those working with business and/or legal documents in French and English. The first, the Harrap's, has good coverage of a variety of subfields such as marketing, commerce and finance, and covers a range of compound expressions along with clearly set out examples. It also contains auxiliary information on writing a CV and covering letter in French, plus various other business letters.

The second, a more compact work, will be of most use to those translating into their native language and, although it has slightly less coverage of compound expressions than the Harrap's, can be a good source of ideas for translating more "general" vocabulary encountered in business documents.

The third, Dahl's Law Dictionary, is a more specialist dictionary in specifically the legal field. It differs in approach from the other two in that many of its entries are encyclopaedic in nature, a valuable approach in legal translation where differences in legal systems mean that choosing the most appropriate translation can require a more detailed understanding of the concepts in question in the two countries.

If you use any other resources when working with French business texts that you think should be included in this list, then comments are welcome.