Linguistic Debate Brings Different Meaning to International Women’s Day in France

Celebrated every year on March 8, International Women’s Day commemorates the movement for women’s rights. While this day is observed in a great number of countries worldwide, its meaning has been subject to interpretation in France, where a linguistic debate over its official name has sparked controversy over the last few years.

International Women’s Day is translated both as “Journée internationale de la femme” and « Journée internationale des femmes” on official UN websites. While both are grammatically correct, the first version is often associated with the celebration of the feminine beauty ideal “la femme” while the latter with a plural noun “des femmes” connotates a day in defense of women’s rights.

Originally created as a day for women’s rights and equality by socialist movements in the United States and Europe, March 8 has increasingly become an advertising opportunity for retailers in a similar fashion as Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. This trend has led prominent political figures and activists to offer different versions of the name to bring the attention back to its original intent. For example, in 2013, the former French Minister for Women’s rights, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem called for the celebration of ‘la journée internationale des droits des femmes, associating this version with the French left.

Similarly, a French Slate article quotes the political communication expert Simone Bonnafous, who believes the lack of consensus regarding the official name of March 8 “allows NGOs and political parties to use the meaning they prefer to advance their political agenda”. The article lists different names and their political connotation with humor: “’ ‘la journée de la femme’ is the sexist version while ‘la journée des femmes’ sounds feminist and ‘la journée des droits de la femme’ is for someone who just cannot make up his mind” explains the author while listing all the names used.

While this debate might seem frivolous to an English speaker, it does highlight the importance of translation when dealing with a politically sensitive subject. In this case, the use of a different article changes the meaning completely and can cause strong disapproval from your target audience.

On a lighter note, if you encounter a woman who is a French speaker today, you might want to use a partial translation and say “Joyeux international women’s day” just to keep it safe!

Having a Studious Summer? Plan Your Next Translation Project!

Summer tends to be the time when you decide to reorganize your files, and when you can finally work on the projects at the bottom of your priority list. Using this downtime to evaluate your translation needs at the end of the year will allow you to avoid rush jobs down the road and get better value.

Here are a few tips to help you make the best of your translation planning: 

  • First, make a list of all your translation projects from last year. Who was your target audience? Did the translation help you have a greater impact? Should you translate the same material in other languages? Answering those questions will help you develop a strategic approach.
  • Second, bring up translation at your next staff meeting and compare notes on translation management and potential areas for collaboration. Does your communication team need a press release or website content translated? Will the next big event require translation? Addressing those needs before everyone gets wrapped up in their work is a great way to avoid rush requests and save money.
  • Lastly, estimate your translation budget for the end of the year and ask for quotes from multiple vendors. Being able to anticipate a project will give you more time to negotiate the rate, and you could even take the time to send a short test for a large project to evaluate the quality of the translation before committing.

Feeling overwhelmed with the planning process? Our team is available to answer your questions. Do not hesitate to contact us !






Mozambique’s Independence Day: Key Data on the Use of Portuguese for Your Next Development Project

June 25 marked the 43rd anniversary of Mozambique’s independence.

Geography and political context: Mozambique sits on the southeast coast of Africa with a population of about 28 million. After three decades of conflict between the Frelimo (ruling party) and the Renamo (rebel group turned opposition), a truce is in sight. Municipal elections are scheduled in 2018 and presidential elections in 2019.

Economic outlook: Mozambique has successfully expanded its economy, achieving growth rates in excess of 6%, and has attracted the confidence of foreign investors. The economic outlook of the country has slightly deteriorated in the last year and despite its rapid economic expansion over the past decades, the country still relies on international development actors to overcome economic challenges.

Interested in Mozambique’s development? Portuguese translations are key to communicating effectively with Mozambicans.

The rise of public-private partnerships and continued involvement of the international community in the country are encouraging greater knowledge sharing among international entities. As translators specialized in international development with a team of experienced continental Portuguese linguists, JPD Systems has witnessed a rise in translation requests from English to Portuguese (and vice versa)

Key facts to keep in mind when communicating with a Mozambican audience:

  • Continental Portuguese is the official language, and Mozambique is a full member of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries.
  • Country-wide, 50% of Mozambicans are fluent in Portuguese, 80% in rural areas.
  • Mozambique is also a multilingual country; a number of Bantu languages are indigenous to Mozambique.
  • Mozambique did not ratify the Portuguese Language Orthographic Agreement (Portuguese abbreviation: NaO), a controversial spelling reform implemented by Portugal and Brazil last year that affects around 1.5% of Portuguese words.

JPD Systems has translated nearly 2 million words from English into Portuguese in areas such as education, nutrition, agriculture and rural development, water supply, road, rail, and telecommunications infrastructure, community-driven development, etc.

A professor at Universidade Catolica de Moçambique said about one of our translations on an infrastructure project in Maputo: “Real Portuguese at last!”