Things I learned (tech stuff)

I’ve recently been translating a guide aimed at tech professionals who want to set up their startup in the south of France, in a region which is turning into France’s very own Silicon Valley. In the process, I learned a lot about what industries are thriving there, what the economy is based on, and what cities like Nice are providing for these tech entrepreneurs. So here are some new terms I learned along the way…

Embedded software (“logiciels enfouis/embarqués“) is computer software, written to control machines or devices that are not typically thought of as computers, and that generally interact directly with the external environment. Manufacturers ‘build in’ embedded software in the electronics of cars, telephones, modems, robots, appliances, toys, security systems, pacemakers, televisions and set-top boxes, and digital watches, for example.

Firmware (usually also referred to as “firmware” in French, but also known as micrologiciel/microcode/logiciel interne/microprogramme) is sometimes used interchangeably with embedded software, although firmware can also be applied to code on a computer, on top of which the OS runs, whereas embedded software is typically the only software on the device in question. The term “firmware” plays with the idea of an intermediary state between “software” and “hardware”. Nice play on words…

Trust-based technologies (“technologies de la confiance”) cover the payment, identification and digital security sectors.

NFC stands for Near Field Communication (“la communication en champ proche” (CCP)), which is a technology used in contactless payment. NFC is a set of communication protocols that enable two electronic devices to establish communication by bringing them within 4 cm (1.57 in) of each other. In 2010 Nice launched the “Nice City of contactless mobile” project, providing inhabitants with NFC mobile phones and bank cards, and a “bouquet of services” covering transportation, tourism and student services.

FinTech (also used in French) is a portmanteau for “financial technology” that describes an emerging financial services sector in the 21st century, composed of companies that use new technology and innovation to leverage available resources in order to compete in the marketplace of traditional financial institutions.

Things I learned (military vocab)

Part of what I love about translating is the diverse documents and themes that I get to read and learn about. There are so many things that would probably never have crossed my path were it not for the little bits of research I need to do when translating complex (or not-so-complex) documents.

So here is a selection of interesting military facts I learned while translating this past week:

Uti possidetis (Latin for “as you possess”) is a principle in international law that territory and other property remains with its possessor at the end of a conflict, unless otherwise provided for by treaty. In French, this is often referred to as “le principe de l’intangibilité des frontières“, although in the Helsinki accords, the term used is “inviolability” in English and “inviolabilité” in French. There seems to be a slight difference in these meanings that often goes unnoticed. While a border is always “inviolable” under international law, its “intangibility” is relative, since borders can be modified under a peaceful agreement.

A2/AD (Anti Access/Area Denial) is a device used to prevent an adversary from occupying or traversing an area of land, sea or air. The specific method used does not have to be totally effective in preventing passage (and sometimes is not) as long as it is sufficient to severely restrict, slow down, or endanger the opponent. The French call this “les stratégies de déni d’accès“. This covers everything from stakes being planted in ditches in Medieval warfare to modern anti-ship missiles currently being brandied about in the South China Sea.

A Theatre of Operations (TO – “théâtre d’opérations” in French) is a sub-area within a “theatre of war”, which is itself an area or place in which important military events occur or are progressing. The boundary of a TO is defined by the commander who is orchestrating or providing support for specific combat operations within the TO. But TOs even exist in peace time. In this case, they are divided into “strategic directions” rather than military regions.

Asymmetric warfare (or asymmetric engagement – une guerre asymmétrique”) is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics are very different. This is typically a war between a standing, professional army and an insurgency or resistance movement. Such struggles often involve strategies and tactics of unconventional warfare, the weaker combatants attempting to use strategy to offset deficiencies in quantity or quality.