Quebec Bill 96: Which Content to Translate and How?

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Wednesday October 5, 2022 - Posted by:

As from June 1 2022, Bill 96 was given assent and became law in the Canadian province of Quebec. This new law has the primary objective of protecting French as the official and common language of Quebec where it is the mother tongue of more than 6.8 million citizens.

Bill 96, an act respecting French, the official and common language of Quebec, is the latest language law that received assent and came into effect on June 1, 2022. This new legislation significantly amended the Charter of the French language and imposed new obligations with an aim to protect and prevent “Louisianization” of French as the official and common language of Québec where French is the mother tongue of more than 6.8 million citizens (84% of the overall population). 

What does this law mean for businesses operating in Quebec?

Without a doubt Bill 96 has far-reaching effects that impact every sector of Quebec society. Every area of business will be affected by the new law and compliance with the requirements will demand major budget, time and resource investment from the companies that want to operate in Quebec. And although some provisions will come into force on a staggered basis, many came into force immediately.

Below is a non-exhaustive breakdown of some of the areas affected:

• Customer Service: product literature, brochures, flyers and websites.
• Packaging and labels: instructions, labels and warranties must be in French. If this is alongside a language other than French, the French text must be more prominent. 
• Trademarks: all trademarks on product packaging and labelling in Quebec must be translated to French, only trademarks registered under the federal Trademarks Act are exempt from this rule.
• Employee Documentation: employment papers, promotions, applications and training material.
• Vacancies: job opportunities in languages other than French must also be adapted into French and promoted to a similar sized audience.
• Language Proficiency: employers are not able to demand proficiency in a language other than French. If the role requires this, the company must demonstrate the relevancy and prove that it has done everything it can to avoid this imposition.

Bill 96 expands the authority of The Quebec Board of the French Language (OQLF). The department can now investigate, search the premises and access electronic data of any business to verify its compliance with the Bill 96’s linguistic regulations.

Consequences for failure to comply with obligations can be detrimental, fines can run up to $30,000 per infraction per day and penalties can include suspension or cancellation of a company’s permits or certificates issued by the Quebec government.


How can companies overcome this obstacle?

It is not surprising that many businesses are overwhelmed by the new requirements imposed by Bill 96. Not every business is prepared to invest and far too often companies rely on employees who speak the language, sometimes not to a native or professional level, to carry out the translation work. However, this can result in translation inaccuracies, cultural gaffes and misunderstandings. The process of translation and localization requires meticulous attention to detail and local-level knowledge to achieve the desired results in the target language.

To help our clients navigate the complexities of the compliance implementation, we recommend approaching it as any other large, seemingly daunting project – break it up into smaller tasks.

The first step for any business would be to review all relevant documentation and identify the printed and digital materials that need to be translated. This could include the list of materials mentioned above (website, brochures, flyers, signage, labels, menus etc.). Referencing the kind of materials that need to be translated could also be a good indicator on how to save time and money. Some materials may require more attention than others and could be translated using a different method. Please see the below methods used for translating:

Translation:

In essence, translation refers to taking a document in one language and translating it directly into another while ensuring the right grammar, terminology, and phraseology has been used in the target language. 

While typically low in cost, the lack of background research, limited discussion on how the asset will be used, or consideration into how to recreate creative concepts, will often result in terminology errors, literal and unengaging translations, truncation on ad copy character limits and underperforming marketing assets. 

Localisation

Adaptation that embeds cultural nuances and language trends for a specific target audience. Very close to the translation process, but the target content format is updated based on the target platform and target market requirements. For example, it would consider elements such as currencies, time formats, holidays, and cultural nuances and flag any decision making back to the client.

Within a marketing context, it would also ensure that content meets the needs of the media platforms or communications campaigns. This is an often-overlooked element, as languages have large variations in the copy space required to replicate the same sentence, and copy space is often regulated by platforms or defined by creative templates.

Transcreation

Transcreation is often described as being 40% translation and 60% creation – this hits the sweet spot for anything that needs to be adapted for a specific audience, and requires more creativity and thought. Transcreation extracts the style, intent, and concepts of the source message, but recreates the messaging in the target language based on market insights and cultural nuances.

Texts that are suitable for transcreation include creative copy, headlines, straplines, puns, metaphors, or cultural content, where the languages may not share the same etymology and so the transcreator must take creative liberties to engage local audiences in an equally meaningful and authentic way.

Machine Translation & Post-editing

Machine translation, with human post-editing, has come a long way over the past years and is an effective way to translate masses of specific content. Modern advances in technology mean that companies are now able to employ machine translation for texts such as: basic product descriptions, technical manuals, internal communications, low-traffic website content and other texts that are less creative in nature and use longer sentence structures. 

This does not apply to marketing content, high-visibility external communications, creative work, high-traffic website content and texts that are intended to be more snappy. 

Tip: It is advisable to work with a specialized translation agency that understands an individual company’s needs and offers guidance on the level of translation that is required for varying content. Ultimately, this will help streamline the process, save time and reduce the costs associated with significant amounts of content. 

Streamlining Translation Processes

There are several ways to streamline the content delivery process, however, it is our belief that the most effective method is to use a programme that allows automatic file uploads and provides real-time updates on the status of translations. Locaria has a centralised, cloud-based content-delivery platform, Locate, which allows clients to upload work and select the level of translation that they require for specific jobs. For constant translation workflows, it is also possible to set up an API connector which allows any newly developed website content to be processed as soon as this goes live. When effectively used, the Locate platform is capable of: 

Reducing project-related email traffic by 80%
Increasing delivery efficiency by 35%
Minimising response times by 50%
Decreasing quote times by 25%

Working with an agency that is capable of developing creative content is also highly beneficial, since this means they are able to alleviate graphics teams that may not be accustomed to working in another language. For this reason, Locaria has also developed a dedicated client review portal, Prism, which offers unique features, blending the visual and annotation capabilities of DAM (Digital Asset Management) with the advanced language-review options of a translation tool.​ This portal optimised the entire content creation and review process, and improves transparency and dynamic collaboration. 

Need More Advice? 

Should you need any help or advice on how to manage your translation workflows efficiently, please contact our team of experts who will be delighted to provide more information on how to meet your company’s needs. 

 

Article by Daniel Purnell, Marketing Manager

Co-authored by Olga Repryntseva, VP Business Development Canada

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