@Shopify et @Langify = brilliant e-commerce in translation on http://scottishlaird.co.uk

If this sounds like an advert, it is not – well, unless you call it promotion for my business.

I have been working with Shopify for a while now to deliver the ScottishLaird.co.uk website. It has been a wholly fantastic experience answering all of my needs as an ecommerce vendor without let or pause. We’ve seen 40% growth this year simply by transferring platforms. Things like cart recovery and customers signing up for notifications on when new stock comes in have really helped. 100% uptime, rock solid servers and well-thought out user experience have also done their bit. But what has been really impressive is how, when we ask a particularly difficult question of the system, it rises to the challenge.

Languages represent a barrier to entry for any website wishing to break into new territories. English is the Lingua Franca of the internet, but frankly, there are limits. We found them in Finland, Sweden and elsewhere. But for us France has been one of the most difficult countries and languages to break into. French is a lovely language, and having a very little, I appreciate how different and distinctive it is. We were recently very lucky to be approached by the folks at franceagora.fr who wished to promote ScottishLaird.co.uk in France (See ‘Figaro! Figaro! Figaro!…’).

To cut a long story short, after wondering exactly how we were going to create a fully translated website to service this new and exciting market which Anne and her team have been busily working on, we finally found Langify, an app within Shopify, and its been a revelation!

With translations from Agora and some on-the-fly work from google translate, which we’re updating for accuracy, the system now recognises our French customers and serves the French version, including our wonderful slideshow en Français!

As my girls would say, Ooh La La!

And you can see the (admittedly work-in-progress) French version by visiting our website, scrolling to the bottom and selecting the language in the pop-up.

Now, I’ve got the bug. First php, then mysql, now French … Anyone for German?

The Chatelet Apprentice from @GallicBooks – great murder mystery set in 18th-Century Paris

chateletThe last book in translation I read, or rather listened to, was the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – which was blisteringly good. Jean-François Parot’s novel is a different beast altogether, despite the fact that it too features a novice detective set an impossible task by a wealthy and influential superior. The plot is well-conceived, albeit slightly undermined by an opacity in the language – at times description, dialogue and characterisations seemed at odds with the plot. Like translations I have read of Russian novels, The Master and Margarita and Petty Demon to name two, the reader always feels that somehow in English they are being short-changed, that the fullness of the author’s original intent has been lost. If only I kept thinking I could read this in the original, these elisions might not have been present. 

Having said that, murders in Paris which straddle the Royal Court and demi-monde together will always hold a level of fascination, as will protagonists who conform to contemporaneous mores which conflict with those of the present day, and yet still maintain a level of sympathy with the reader.

Here’s the link to Amazon.

Should also mention that in a previous career I designed Gallic Books website, hence the initial impulse to pick Parot’s book up.