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Lexicon for bilingual investigations

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Recently, while drafting an investigation report in French, I surprisingly struggled to find an appropriate way to translate “counter-complaint.” In the context of civil litigation, in French, a counterclaim is “une demande reconventionnelle,” but a quick internet search also suggests terms such as “contre-plainte” or “contre-recours.”

I debated whether I should just follow the internet suggestions. However, after several minutes of staring at the screen on my laptop, I could not bring myself to write “contre-plainte” or “contre-recours” in my report. When I shared this unexpected hiccup with my dear colleague Frédérick Doucet, who is also bilingual, he mentioned that he himself had questioned whether “intimé(e)” was not a better term than “répondant” to describe “a respondent” in French.

As any investigator drafting or reviewing documents in English and French in the course of an investigation will tell you, there is more to translation than finding the equivalent word-for-word of a term. Translation is, above all, finding a term that accurately conveys the meaning. Even for someone whose first language is French, like me, having to conduct investigations mostly in English has now made me less familiar with the French terminology.

This realization, drawn from my unexpected difficulty in trying to find the perfect translation for “counter-complaint,” gave me the idea for a blog intended to provide an English to French lexicon of terms commonly (and some less commonly) used in an investigation.

While I don’t have the pretension or authority to present this blog as an official dictionary, I hope you will see it as a helpful starting point in your bilingual drafting endeavours. I thank my colleague Frédérick for suggesting and helping translate some of the words below.

For more on the subject, I suggest you read the blog by former RT Workplace Investigator Sophie Martel, which is an excellent resource on the French translations of English gender-neutral pronouns, titled: “Il, elle, iel ou ille? Quel langage neutre utiliser en français? | Gender-neutral language in French, does it exist?

Finally, I encourage you to visit the following resources which provide French translations of English legal terms. First, for our friends from Québec, the “Centre d’accès à l’information juridique” (“CAIJ”) provides free access to the Legal Reid dictionary, a valuable legal English to French translation tool. This resource can be accessed here.

Second, TERMIUM Plus®, a service offered by the Government of Canada, provides translations from English to French for human rights related terminology. Please click here to access this resource.

Finally, Jurisource.ca has released a legal glossary of English to French terms for law practitioners in Ontario. It can be accessed here.

English French
Abuse of power: Abus de pouvoir
Admission/denial: Admissions/dénégations
Adverse impact: Effet préjudiciable
(To) admit/To deny: Admettre/nier
Allegations/complaint: Allégations/plainte
(To) allege: Alléguer, soutenir, affirmer
Anonymous complainant: Plaignant non identifié
Anonymous complaint: Plainte anonyme
Assessment of credibility: Évaluation de la crédibilité
Balance of probabilities: Balance des probabilités
Behavioural norms: Normes de comportement/Normes comportementales
Bias: Biais/Partialité
Bona fide occupational requirement: Exigence professionnelle justifiée
Burden of proof: Fardeau de la preuve
Bullying: Intimidation
Circumstantial evidence: Preuve circonstancielle
Client’s investigation notice letter to the parties: Avis d’enquête aux parties (par le client)
Code of Conduct: Code de Conduite
Complainant: Plaignant
Confidentiality (agreement): (Accord) de confidentialité
Constructive dismissal: Congédiement déguisé
Corroborative evidence: Preuve corroborant (…)
Counter-complaint: Plainte reconventionnelle
Credibility determinations: Conclusions sur la crédibilité
Cyberbullying: Cyberintimidation
Discriminatory behaviour: Comportement discriminatoire
Documentary evidence: Preuve documentaire
Eyewitness: Témoin oculaire
Fact-finding process: Processus de détermination des faits
Factual findings: Conclusions de fait ou conclusions factuelles
Fairness: Équité (équitable/juste)
Federally-regulated workplace: Milieu de travail (assujetti/soumis) à la réglementation fédérale
Harassing behaviour: Acte d’harcèlement/comportement harcelant
Hearsay: Ouï-dire
Impartiality: Impartialité
Interim measures: Mesures provisoires
Interview: Entrevue/Entretien
Investigation letter to (the complainant/the respondent/the witness): Lettre d’introduction (au plaignant, à l’intimé, au témoin)
Investigation process: Processus/Procédure d’enquête
List of allegations: Liste (ou résumé) des allégations
Mandate: Mandat
Meeting: Rencontre
Neutrality: Neutralité
Offensive behaviour: Comportement offensant
Partial/quasi admissions: Admissions partielles/quasi-admissions
Personal harassment: Harcèlement fondé sur des motifs non-prohibés
Physical evidence: Preuve matérielle
Poisoned work environment: Milieu de travail hostile
Policy analysis: Analyse de la politique
Policy breach: Une violation de la politique
Preamble: Préambule
Preliminary assessment: Évaluation préliminaire
Probative value: Valeur/Force probante
Profanity/abusive language: Langage vulgaire/injurieux
Psychological harassment: Harcèlement psychologique
Reasons for the complaint: Motifs de la plainte
Reasonable exercise of managerial powers: Exercice raisonnable du pouvoir de supervision
Relevant (information/evidence): Information pertinente
Preuve pertinente à (…)
Remarks (discriminatory or vexatious): Propos/commentaires (discriminatoires ou vexatoires)
Remediation: Mesures correctrices
Reply interview: Entrevue de réponse
Reprisals/retaliations (protection): Représailles
Protection contre des mesures de représailles
Resignation: Démission
Respondent: Intimé (e)/mis(e) en cause
Similar fact evidence: Preuve basée sur des faits similaires
Scope of the investigation: Le cadre de l’enquête
Standard of proof: Norme de preuve
(Temporary/administrative) leave: Mise à pied temporaire/suspension administrative
Third-party investigator: Enquêteur/Enquêtrice (Enquêteuse) externe
Thoroughness: (De manière) méticuleuse/exhaustive
Threshold question: La question-seuil
Timeliness: Promptitude
Transparency: Transparence
Unconscious bias: Biais inconscient, préjugé inconscient
Union: Syndicat
Unionized workplace: Milieu de travail syndiqué
Unsubstantiated allegations: Allégations non fondées
Vexatious behaviour: Comportement vexatoire
Workplace assessment: Évaluation du milieu de travail
Workplace culture: Culture en milieu de travail ou Culture organisationnelle
Workplace investigation: Enquête en milieu de travail
(Wrongful) dismissal: Congédiement (injustifié)


Ceci conclut mon blogue. Bonne chance dans vos aventures rédactionnelles bilingues1!

1This concludes my blog. Good luck on your bilingual drafting adventures!

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