French (Pre-Unified) - Translator Table French Flag

Table Designator: fra-fra00

Advisory: This braille translator is obsolete. The governing braille authority has introduced a newer braille code that replaces this one. Those familiar with this older code might have reason to want it for personal use. However, Duxbury recommends that braille produced with this translator should not be used for any official purpose, whether educational, governmental, commercial, or any form of outreach to blind individuals, unless specifically requested by the blind individual in question.

A translation table is a module in DBT that provides the rules to convert (translate) a document from print-to-braille or from braille-to-print. Normally, it is selected by the DBT template that controls production of the current document. All documents have a template. In fact, for many languages there are multiple templates, with differences in translation rules or formatting, but each references at least one translation table. (For more on templates, see DBT Templates, the Basics.)

Regardless of your template, you can choose a different translation table to translate your current document using the Translation Table selection from the DBT Document Menu.

You can also select different translation tables to use for particular passages in your document. See the section below on Language Table Switching.


These (no longer current) French tables support print-to-braille translation of French-language literary text and mathematical and computer notation, following the codes and customs established by the Association Valentin Hauy (AVH), Paris, and widely used for French by AVH and others until an international agreement on unification of French codes was reached in 2005.

Translation from braille-to-print is supported for this language.

Key Characteristics

Table Designator: fra-fra00 identifies this translation table for Language Table Switching.

Braille Contractions: This language is usually produced in contracted braille, which means one should not expect a one-to-one correspondence between inkprint letters and braille cells. Instead, abbreviations (contractions) are used for many common words and letter sequences.

Capital Sign: French (Pre-Unified) uses dots 46 as the capital sign.

Emphasis: The French (Pre-Unified) translator converts all forms of emphasis in inkprint (bold, italics, and underlining) into a single braille emphasis marker, dots 456.

Script Systems Used: The French (Pre-Unified) translator handles Roman characters, and a wide variety of accents, symbols and punctuation marks.

Translation Modes (DBT Codes which Change the Mode of Translation)

A number of DBT codes affect the mode of the translation or create special translation effects on specific letters or symbols. Some translation modes are specific to particular translator tables.

[g1] switches to grade 1 (uncontracted) as the "prevailing grade", but does not insert a grade 1 indicator.

[g2] resumes grade 2 (contracted) as the prevailing grade, but does not insert a grade 2 indicator. (Grade 2 is the normal prevailing grade.)

For more about DBT codes that affect the mode of translation, search on the two words, "translation code", in the topic, DBT Codes Quick Reference.

Language Table Switching

DBT has translation tables for over 200 world languages. Modern versions of DBT allow using multiple language translation tables within a single document.

Suppose that you are working on a document using this base translation table, but it has passages in a foreign language, or that need a technical braille code. At the beginning of each such passage, insert the DBT code lnb, followed by ~ (tilde) and the table designator for the desired language table. (The table designator for each language table is listed in the Key Characteristics.) Note that using the lnb code you can change from the base table to virtually any other translation table and back again.

For some language tables, the table designator is short, like ise for Icelandic. Thus, to switch to Icelandic braille translation, insert [lnb~ise]. The table designators are more elaborate for mathematics code tables and for languages that have multiple translation tables. As an example, the designator for Unified French Braille is fra-xuf. To start a passage in the French Unified Braille code, insert [lnb~fra-xuf]. At the end of a foreign language passage, use the plain [lnb] code to switch back to the original, base, language translation table.

Some translation tables, and hence their table designators, are for braille codes but not for natural languages. Some examples are the International Phonetic Alphabet (designator: qip) and Nemeth Code (designator: qmt-xnem72m) for mathematics. Using lnb with those table designators allows you to switch to the IPA braille code or the Nemeth braille math code.

While a plain [lnb] code returns translation to the base language, it does not restore any other translation properties that might have been in effect before the switch. For example, if you had been using a [g1L] code (for "grade 1 lock") to prevent contractions, you need to repeat that code after the [lnb] code to restore that effect. Fortunately, you can build lnb codes into DBT styles, to customize what modes to enter and exit at the switch in and out of a translation table.

Note that DBT templates whose names contain the word "basic" all have a number of styles defined for switching between different translation tables. (For the list, see Basic Templates.)

References, History and Credits

The development of the literary portions of these tables commenced in March 1987, under the sponsorship of the Association Valentin Hauy (AVH), Paris, and as a joint technical effort of Duxbury Systems and AVH. The primary specification for French literary braille usage with contractions is "Abrege; Orthographique Etendu", a publication of AVH. "Table de Transcription pour la Production du Braille Abrege par Ordinateur," by Michel Jacquin and published by AVH (1986) was also instrumental in this early development.

An "informatique" (computer notation) code was also included in the early work, and revised considerably in 1999-2000 in response to a change in specifications.

The braille-to-print ("reverse") translation tables were added starting in November 1990, with the same sponsors and developers.

Mathematics translation facilities, following "Notation Mathematique" as prepared by AVH, were added in 1999-2000, with AVH again providing sponsorship and collaborating in the technical work with Duxbury Systems.

These tables were replaced for common use when the rules for Unified French Braille were adopted in July 2005 at the 3rd International Forum at INJA in Paris.