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Translation: How will Québec’s Bill 96 Affect Your Business?

There has been a great extent of discussion in various media and venues regarding the recent Bill 96 that came into effect on June 1st 2022. There are many areas of confusion in the business world as to the impact of the new and upgraded law; specifically, how to modify business processes to meet the reformed requirements. In this blog, I will provide a general run down of Bill 96 which is meant for a quick read only. I highly encourage anyone who is interested to learn more about this topic to seek professional legal advice from a trusted party of choice. In addition, I am always here to assist with the linguistic aspect of being compliant with Bill 96 through the services I provide. For example, content translation, contracts, marketing materials, website, and over the phone interpretations. In summary, my services are able to aid all areas of language related communication to assist your business in compliance with the new language requirement in the province of Quebec.

Let’s dive in! After a year-long legislative process, ‘Bill 96’, an Act respecting the official and common language of Quebec, French, was finally passed by the Quebec National Assembly on May 24, 2022. It happened after a long process in which significant amendments were made to the first draft of Quebec’s Charter of the French Language, introduced on May 13, 2021. The bill then received royal assent on June 1, 2022.

Bill 96 is aimed to further promote the use of the French language and to reiterate its formal recognition as Quebec’s official language. The purpose is to clarify and strengthen the existing enforced measures through the Charter of the French language in 2021 and to add new conditions and provisions to it. Moreover, it is to reinforce the role of the Office Québécois de la Langue Française (OQLF) which is the government body to ensure compliance with the Charter.

It imposes, among other things, new obligations regarding the language of work, commerce and business, contracts, signage, communications between government and businesses, educational institutions and courts.

Thus, businesses and lawyers must prepare for the impact Bill 96 will have on the Quebec judicial system and its procedures. Although the new rules come into force at varying times (ranging from immediate sanction to 3 years after sanction), several rules are already in force. Here are some ways your business activities may be affected by Bill 96 in Quebec.

Businesses Must Offer Goods and Services in French

An explicit obligation introduced by Bill 96 for businesses is to offer goods and services in French to consumers, non-consumers, and civil administration bodies. Before Bill 96, this right was not implemented separately from the Charter’s provisions imposing specific obligations on businesses to interact with consumers. Only the consumers had the right to be informed and served in French. We can expect the broad enforcement approach brought by Bill 96 to be enforced as a free-standing obligation and fill the gaps between existing requirements.

Impact of Bill 96 on Contracts and other Documents in Business

Under Bill 96, parties are required to draw all contracts of adhesion (non-negotiable contracts that are pre-determined by one party) exclusively in French, with limited exceptions. Prior to this new regime, parties to a contract of adhesion could put a standard clause about the contract language and decide on an agreement drafted exclusively in the English language (i.e., without a French version).

Bill 96, which came after a year of assent date, requires companies to present a French version of all the contracts before a party can express the wish to be bound by another language version.

This new provision answers the ongoing interpretative debate on the existing requirements as to whether a French version of contracts is required before the parties agree on the English language.

If a subscribing counter-party expresses the wish to be bound by another language version, upon receiving a French version of the contract, in addition to the contract itself, the contract documents may also be drafted in that other language. Although, this new rule has some limited exceptions: loan contracts, extra-provincial relations contracts, and financial instruments. This new requirement does not extend to contracts with specific standard terms that the parties would negotiate otherwise.

In general, an adhering party will not be bound by the external clauses mentioned in French adhesion contracts if not drafted in French. If an adhering party requests for the adhesion contract to be in English, the external clause may be in English.

Quebec civil administration contracts, whether the parties carry out their activities in Quebec or not, must be drafted exclusively in French, with a few exceptions. Other civil administration documents must also be drafted exclusively in French, including the documents transmitted with a view to the conclusion of a contract and all French contract-related documents.

Websites and Marketing Materials

The previous interpretation of the existing rule was confirmed by Bill 96, according to which social media, websites, newsletters, brochures, catalogues, and other manuscripts must be in French. It also confirms the requirement of providing versions of these media in languages ​​other than French, but not under more favourable conditions than the version in French.

In the past, only businesses with a physical establishment in Quebec were required to comply with this rule, based on an analysis of the specific facts. Since this new approach does not seem to change, businesses may be at greater risk with the new remedies in place concerning the breaches of Charter obligations.

Packaging and Labelling

It was already provided in the Charter that the products and their containers and packaging must have inscriptions in French. Entries in other languages may accompany French entries, but none of them shall prevail over the French one.

Bill 96 maintains this provision and clarifies that listings provided in other languages ​​cannot be on more favourable terms than listings in French. Since the Charter rule is already practiced this way, we cannot expect a change in practice.

Regarding trademarks, Bill 96 provides that if a trademark in a language other than French appearing on packaging or labelling is used under the trademark exception and has a generic term or product description, it must also be indicated in French permanently.

For Public Signs and Commercial Advertising

The current Charter rules required all commercial advertising and public signs to be in French. They may also be in a language other than French, provided that French is “clearly predominant” over the other language. The term “definitely predominant” means that the font size of the French text must be double the size of the text in the other language to have a greater visual impact.

In addition, the current Charter allows the marks to appear on public signs and posters in a language other than French, provided that the marks in French have a “sufficient presence.” It is about the marks that are visible from the outside. The companies usually satisfy this requirement by adding a generic or descriptive word in French to qualify the mark, such as “café” or “boutique.”

The Trademark Exception

In the past, the Charter’s Regulation on the language of commerce and business provided the “trademark exception,” which are exceptions to the above rules, for English-only trademarks. The existing rules required that a “recognized” trademark by the Canadian trademark law (generally including the registered, unregistered, and pending trademarks) could appear exclusively in a language other than French on the packaging, labelling, posters, and public signs. This rule has additional requirements for posters and public signs displayed outdoors or visible from the outside. Many businesses, national and international, relied on this exception to ensure consistency in their brand image.

Bill 96 restricts the existent exception and clarifies that companies will no longer be able to invoke this exception for unregistered marks and marks awaiting registration. From the age of three, the trademark exception will only be available for registered trademarks, provided the absence of any corresponding French version in the Trademarks Database Canadian. Any company that relies on this exemption or plans to rely on it to do business in Quebec should ensure that its marks or the applications are filed or registered. This is to ensure that these applications have reached the registration stage before the entry into force of the new rule.

Requests from Government Agencies

Companies must write all written documents exclusively in French that are sent to government agencies to obtain authorization, permit, subsidy, or financial assistance.

Registration of Movable Security/ Personal Property in French

Prior to Bill 96, applicants could write applications for registration of a security or other right in the Register of Personal and Movable Real Rights (RDPRM) for the Province of Quebec in French or in English. As of three months, as Bill 96 receives royal assent, all RDPRM registrations must be written exclusively in French, including the description of the collateral and any modification to an existing registration published before the adoption of Bill 96 (even if it was previously published in English).

Applications for Registration at the Land Registry Office

Prior to Bill 96, applicants could write applications registered with the Land Registry in French or in English for the registration, declarations and amendments, or other rights for the Province of Quebec. As of three months after the assent of Bill 96, all such applications (except in connection with co-ownership) must be written exclusively in French. However, this rule does not apply to an act that modifies or corrects another deed that was published at the Land Registry Office in another language before Bill 96 came into force, and it can be published in a language other than French. Effective on the date of assent to Bill 96, one must file a declaration of co-ownership fractions at the Land Registry Office exclusively in French.

Potential Risks and Consequences of Non-Compliance

Companies that fail to comply with the Charter are introduced with potential risks and consequences by Bill 96. Before Bill 96 came into force, there were administrative fines and the suspension or potential withdrawal of the company’s francization certificate for companies in case they fail to comply with the Charter. This fine amount doubled, from $1,500 to $20,000, in the event of a repeat offence. In addition, businesses failing to comply with Quebec’s obligations related to the use of the French language were always at the risk of reputational damage in the province.

  • Fines will increase: With Bill 96, fines will be increased for businesses for their non-compliance with the Charter’s certain provisions. The increase in the fine for businesses is expected to be ten times, i.e., from $3,000 to $30,000. In the case of a second offence, the estimated fine will be doubled, and for subsequent offences, it will be tripled. Each day that an infraction persists constitutes a separate infraction.
  • Liability of directors: Directors are presumed liable for the Charter’s violation of any kind a legal person commits unless they can demonstrate that they took all necessary measures and were diligent in preventing such violation.
  • Civil action rights: Individuals have the right to bring a civil action against the alleged infringer who violates their language rights under the Charter.
  • Contracts: A person who suffers prejudice may request to annul the contract’s provisions causing that prejudice by violating the Charter’s provisions. This person can also choose to ask for a reduction of his obligations in proportion to the prejudice that otherwise would be justified.
  • Government Permits and Authorizations: Government authorizations or permits may face suspension or revocation in case of repeated violations of the Charter.
  • Injunctions: The Office obtains the possibility of
    • (a) ordering companies that fail to comply with the Charter to stop the non-compliant activity or to make modifications to comply with the Charter, and
    • (b) seeking an injunction directly addressing the courts to force the companies to comply or seek a court order against the offending company to remove or destroy their signs, posters or advertisements that violate the rule provided by the Charter.

Conclusively, I hope this blog post provided some clarification regarding Bill 96 and the consequences to follow. Once again, if you or your business is affected by Bill 96, do not hesitate to contact professionals to assist in the integration of the new law into your business processes.

Until next time!

Robin Ayoub

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Humans or Robots? Who is Best Equipped to Handle your Translation Services?

One vs the other or together?

Many organizations and businesses including the travel and tourism industry, eCommerce industry, finance, social media platforms, news industry, as well as gaming industry require translation services. As a result, there is a huge demand for translators. With advancements in technology, several translation services are easily available that are competing with human translators in efficiency and cost. There is a constant debate in the industry regarding cost-cutting. As a result, human translation services are competing with machines.
Here are the pros and cons of both for you to decide…

Machine translation
Several programs are used to translate speech to text and from one language to another. However, every language has nuances that are understood by native speakers or people who have in-depth knowledge of the language. Unfortunately, that is not something a machine can differentiate, yet.
The advantages of using machine translators are:
– You get an instant translation that too in several languages available with ease. This comes in handy, especially for tourists.
– The tools for translation can be easily available online, usually, free of cost.
– The level of accuracy is improving with time, thereby improving precision.
The disadvantages of using machine translators are:
– Usually, machine translators convert sentences word by word. Any bilingual individual will know that that is not how translations work. Thus, many times, using machines for translation results in inconsistencies.
– The underlying meaning of the text is often not captured by the machine translators. This includes any metaphors, tone, puns, etc.
– Inability to understand the nuances of the language can result in costly errors that can cause loss of contract, business, or life.

Human translators
Humans who have studied the language are well versed with the distinctions between the words, their meaning, and usages. Additionally, being familiar with adages, idioms, and commonly used slang can make them better translators as they can effectively communicate the message as per the language in demand.
The advantages of using human translators are:
• Not only do you get experts in the language, but also in specific areas like legal, medical, industrial, etc. This is extremely important as there is a huge demand for the translation of medical and legal documents.
• They can understand the context in which the document is written and can adequately translate it.
The disadvantages of using human translators are:
• The services are costly and require more time compared to the machine.

Wrapping It Up
There can never be a comparison between man and machine. A machine can only be as good as the instructions it is provided with. Knowing the context in which a word is being used is important to efficiently translate it, which is not accurately possible with machines. However, if instead of accuracy, time matters, opting for machine translators is advised.
If you require accuracy while translating the documents, then hiring a human translator is recommended. Though they prove costly, in the long run, the investment is paid for with good work. Both machines and humans can work in tandem to provide efficient, timely, and cost-effective translational services.

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Freelance Translators Obtaining Security Clearance

Aside from large translation corporations, there is a competitive landscape for freelance translators in Canada. Research estimates that there are approximately 15,000 freelance translators, interpreters, and localization specialists in Canada. With this being said, freelance workers are encouraged to expand their certifications and skill set in order to give them an edge in a large competitive environment. This blog will explore how freelance translators can obtain security clearance to secure more job opportunities.

What Does This Look Like?

By far, the government is the largest consumer of translation services. They require a plethora of services for different reasons. For example, translating documents from English to French. With this being said, there is a competitive territory for translators to acquire employment opportunities.

Translators often compete on: quality, price, and customer service. Check out my other blog that highlights a buyer’s priorities when purchasing localization for more information: https://robinayoub.blog/2020/06/29/purchasing-localization-buyers-priorities/

Quality is typically in the eyes of the beholder. The translated content must be accurate and well-presented. Moreover, price is a huge factor in the translation industry. Price degradation has become an issue where people are unable to make a living with the low prices that are offered. Thus, pricing must be fairly calculated to represent the quality of the content. Lastly, customer service is an integral component in building one’s brand. This includes quick turnaround, prompt communication, and overall happy clientele.

These three factors are important in building a strong reputation for freelance translators. However, a fourth factor that can give translators an edge in the business is obtaining their security clearance licence. Government agencies are often searching for translators that are qualified to translate secure content. A minority of translators are cleared by the government to provide this service. Thus, it is encouraged that more freelance translators look into obtaining a security clearance licence to: a) receive more contracts, and b) request for more money.

Applying For Security Clearance

There are different levels for security clearance. The process to obtain the certification involves: background checks, certifying one’s workplace, and meeting certain requirements. You can learn more at: https://www.tpsgc-pwgsc.gc.ca/esc-src/personnel/information-eng.html

Wrapping it Up

Conclusively, freelance translators that have obtained their security clearance licence are open to more employment opportunities. Not only does this help government agencies with their translation needs, but also allows freelance workers more flexibility in leveling up in their career.

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GPT-3: The Latest Breakthrough in the Translation Industry

OpenAI is an artificial intelligence lab in San-Francisco that developed a language model by the name of GPT-3 (generative pre-trained transformer) that mimics human-like text. The beta release was June 11, 2020. This blog will explore some of the capabilities and drawbacks of GPT-3.

What Does This Look Like?

GPT-3 is programmed to observe and mimic multiple linguistic patterns. These include but are not limited to: solving language and syntax puzzles, answering medical queries, and changing the type of style from input to output text. For example, a twitter user asked the program to translate “everyday” language to legal jargon. This transformed the input text from “my landlord didn’t maintain the property” to “the defendants have permitted the real property to fall into disrepair and have failed to comply with state and local health and safety codes and regulations”. The capabilities of GPT-3 are quite impressive and are fine-tuned to mimic human translations.

With this being said, there are a few errors that GPT-3 possesses. Given that this program is still in the experimental phase, it is bound to include limitations. These shortcomings include: biological/physical/social/psychological reasoning, semantic understanding, and biases in certain texts. For example, GPT-3 is programmed to translate texts without knowing the meaning of words, thus lacking semantic representation. This means that the program is capable of generating texts that are: biased, racist, sexist, homophobic, and or politically incorrect.

Wrapping it Up

We have come a long way in developing AI models that mimic human translation. GPT-3 is not the first, and definitely will not be the last program in the journey of the development of AI machines. GPT-3 possesses its advantages and limitations, showcasing the required dual nature of human and machine translation services.

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Translation Innovations

Translation has never seemed easier. Machine-based translation innovations are emerging in different forms. In previous blogs, we discussed the advantages and disadvantages of machine based translation services (link here: https://robinayoub.blog/2020/06/25/the-translator-cyborg-from-a-buyers-perspective/). Despite the possible challenges that occur with machine translation services, products such as the translation smart mask and the Scanmarker air have gained a lot of attention. This blog will explore what these two translation products entail.

What Does This Look Like?

Due to COVID-19, masks have become mandatory across almost all places. A Japanese company by the name of Donut Robotics invented a smart mask that can be hooked up to a bluetooth device and translate messages into eight different languages. Languages so far include: English, French, Mandarin, Korean, Bahasa Indonesian, Spanish, Russian, and Vietnamese. The Chief Executive of Donut Robotics stated that, “We worked hard for years to develop a robot and we have used that technology to create a product that responds to how the coronavirus has reshaped society.” For example, this may be useful people are travelling abroad and are unaware of the native language.

Moreover, another machine-based translation innovation is the Scanmarker air. This product is mostly advertised to students as it is a helpful study aid. The Scanmarker air is a scanner and translator. This is able to: highlight texts and transfer it to any device, as well as translate texts to forty languages.

Wrapping it Up

Conclusively, it seems as if automatic translation products and services are becoming easier and more accessible. This does not mean that machines are at the point of replacing human translation services, but it is interesting to see how far automated translation products have evolved.

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Top 3 Reasons Why Localization is Important

Localization is the process of translating content and making it specific to local geographical areas and cultures. In a world with billions of people and hundreds of countries, localization plays a prominent role in reaching broader audiences and catering to numerous target markets. The following section of the blog will outline three reasons as to why localization is important for business expansion. 

Why is Localization Important?

  1. Expanding to various markets: The main goal for most businesses is to expand market audiences and increase overall profit. It is often difficult to grow if businesses are restricted by linguistic and cultural boundaries. With localization, businesses are able to communicate more effectively to various market audiences around the globe. For example, Airbnb is a website that offers vacation rentals and experiences around the world. They localized their content in terms of: language translation on the website, offering vacation rentals and experiences specific to a certain geographical locations, and creating marketing campaigns to attract tourists.

2.  Creating a known brand: The reason why many of the popular brands that you and I both love are so successful is due to localization! For example: Netflix, Apple, Samsung etc. have expanded their market audience on a global scale. Consequently, a greater number of people are aware of these brands which generates higher consumerism rates.

3. Customer Satisfaction: Localization strives to understand the culture(s) of a certain geographical location and appropriately translate content to suit their local culture. For example, popular pizza chain ‘Dominos’, noticed that their sales were not doing so well in India when they were selling westernized pizzas (e.g. pepperoni pizza). In order to fix this, they localized their brand by altering their cuisine and began selling pizzas that appeal to the consumers (i.e. paneer tikka pizza). Consequently, this increased revenue and enhanced customer satisfaction. 

Wrapping it Up

Localization is an integral tool used to ensure that businesses adapt to the local character of a certain place. It is as simple as acknowledging and supplying to the needs of different places. 

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Upcoming Events in the Translation Industry

Due to COVID-19 and following health and safety guidelines, many workplaces have shifted to a digital platform. This includes: virtual meetings, webinars, information sessions etc. The major advantage to a digitalized work place is the ability to reach people from all ends of the world. It is a highly globalized community with various businesses interacting and sharing ideas. The following section of the blog will outline some virtual and non-virtual upcoming events in the translation and localization according to Multilingual News.

What Does This Look Like?

The following link outlines the major events occurring in the translation and localization industry in the upcoming weeks: https://multilingual.com/events/

As conveyed in the link above, many of these events are hosted by companies across various regions: Italy, Croatia, United States etc. Some of these events are held in conference halls and allow in-person meetings, whereas other events are offered online. Topics included range from: localization challenges in market pivots to new trends in translation and technology. As a proud member of the localization industry, it is always wise to seek different learning opportunities as this can help me grow my business and better assist future cliental.

Wrapping it Up

I encourage anyone who is currently in the translation industry, or anyone wanting to learn more about the translation industry to attend these events. Make sure to follow my blog for updates about the localization industry!

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Language Evolution: Past, Present, Future

Language is a form of communication that is unique to each region and culture of the world. As we are in the midst of globalization and expansion, we often encounter various languages in one sphere. However, this was not always the case. This blog will explore languages that have gone extinct and the what the future holds in terms of linguistic evolution.

What Does This Look Like?

According to the Linguist List, there are approximately 573 languages that have gone extinct. These languages are categorized by subgroups and families and originate from various regions (e.g. Indo-European, Australian, Afro-asiatic etc.). Early forms of linguistic speech have evolved, in accordance to multiple factors, into the languages we know today. Bilingua, a language exchange app, explains why languages go extinct. The most common factor is attributed to social and economic shifts. Different languages may exist in the same region and communities shift to using one language over the other. Moreover, Bilingua lists the top six dead languages that are most influential; namely: Latin, Coptic, Biblical Hebrew, Sumerian, Akkadian, and Sanskrit. For example, the Latin language had a monumental impact on geographical areas across Europe and the Mediterranean coast of Africa. The language slowly died out due to the overtake of the Roman Empire; however, Latin has influenced subsequent languages including: French, Spanish, and Italian.

Moreover, as we go through periods of demographical and culture change, it is safe to assume that many languages used today: English, Mandarin, Arabic etc. may go extinct, and or, evolve into new branches of languages. It is difficult to predict when this prominent evolutionary phase will occur, but linguistic evolution is inevitable.

Wrapping it Up  

It is important to study the evolution of linguistics, including extinct languages in order to learn about the influential impact on languages that are practiced today and to better understand and predict the future of languages.

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Applying Localization Services: Assisting Foreign Students

International students attending post-secondary programs overseas away from home are often faced with various obstacles, including but not limited to: learning the host country’s language, adapting to cultural norms, and navigating services that can help with assimilation. This blog will explore the benefits of integrating localization specialists across post-secondary institutions (i.e. university, college) to better assist foreign students enhance their learning and social experience.

What Does This Look Like?

According to Masters Portal article in 2019, the top-ranked universities in Canada that occupy a high rate of international students are: University of Toronto, University of British Colombia, and McGill University. Research conducted by the Canadian Bureau for International Education reveals that a majority of international students originate from China, India, and South Korea. As one can imagine, cultural norms and learning techniques greatly differ across various regions of the world, making it difficult to assimilate into host countries.

As a solution, localization services should be available in post-secondary institutions. For example, a drop-in room with localization and translation professionals providing foreign aid. Most international students often enrol in programs relating to math and science, straying away from art and English programs. Therefore, a foreign student(s) may have inquiries regarding language acquisition and understanding figures of speech as it may be a struggle.

Wrapping it Up

Consequently, it is important to recognize the struggles that foreign students face when migrating to a host country. Localization services in post-secondary institutions can be an integral component in reducing isolations and aiding the integration of foreign students with the rest of the student entity.

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Expanding Translation Services: Sign Language

English, Spanish, French, Arabic, German; the list goes on for commonly translated languages. However, sign language (i.e. American Sign Language: ASL) is rarely ever recognized or provided by translation companies, which disproportionately affects individuals of the deaf community. This blog will explore how translation companies and language service providers can integrate ASL professionals in order to reach a broader audience.

What Does This Look Like?

ASL is commonly used when translating spoken word in North America. This is most prevalent in media content (e.g. live theatre, concerts) as well as the professional world (interviews, legal related matters). It is important to recognize that select individuals cannot communicate using spoken language, therefore require ASL professionals to translate for them. For example, an ASL professional translator is always depicted on the news when translating reports on COVID-19. The inclusivity of all communication methods helps spread the message across to a broader community.

Subtitles are a great advantage and mostly used for digital media content. However, ASL is needed for live reports, news, or interactions. Translation companies should integrate ASL professionals in their system in order to provide assistance to businesses in need of such translation. This is especially important for localization companies due to the wide range of sign language used around the world. The most commonly used and recognized are American, French, Chinese, British, and Indo-Pakistani sign language. Thus, sign language is unique to each region of the world.

Wrapping it Up

Conclusively, sign language is often undermined and forgotten when it comes to translation services. It is important to recognize alternate forms of communication methods in order to cater to all communities and reach a broader audience.

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