Dusoulier was a young Parisienne who spent a few years in the Silicon Valley as a software engineer before returning to Paris. She launched the English version of her award-winning food blog in 2003, and she’s been blogging in both French and English since 2007. Dusoulier is also the author of The French Market Cookbook, a book of French vegetarian recipes, and Edible French, a book on French expressions related to food.
Here’s Clotilde’s take on why to blog in two languages:
Q. Why did you start writing posts in both English and French?
A. After I was back home in Paris for a year, I started the blog as an appealing way to keep my English skills alive. I began writing in French in 2007, in preparation for the French edition of my first cookbook.
Q. So for years, you’ve written each post in both languages?
A. Yes. There are very few exceptions.
Q. Which do you start in?
A. I usually start in English and translate into French. A post takes a full day and the French post is another three hours, between the writing, formatting and commenting.
Q. You could write it first in French, too.
A. My English speaking audience was much bigger, so there was this sense of priority. But actually now it’s 50/50 English and French. One is not more important than the other.
Q. What is the hardest part of writing two posts?
A. It’s not difficult, but it’s cumbersome to complete the post in English and then it’s not over. It can feel annoying to do it all twice.
Q. What is the benefit then?
A. I increased my reach, because my potential audience is not just English speakers. It’s also cultural because I get to interact with a wider variety of cultural backgrounds.
Q. What are the differences in interacting?
A. Daily life in France is different than in the US, and their approach to food and cooking is different too. Foods that are available in French stores are not available in the US. The US is more one-stop shopping but in France many people shop in specialty markets. Crème fraiche is a basic thing to buy in France but a fancy one in the US, for example.
Also, translating your own words makes you question yourself. I don’t have the same sense of humor in English than in French. Some things don’t translate. It’s like having a double persona.
Q. Would you advise that people jump in?
A. I recommend they do it! It’s a rewarding undertaking.
People write to me and say they read both versions. They use my blog to learn a language. Americans start with French and then, when they don’t understand, they hop over to the English version. I end up having a food blog that is also a language learning tool, which is really fun.
Do you want to blog in two languages? What keeps you from doing so? If you already do so, is your experience different from Clotilde’s?