Thursday, May 31, 2007

Challenge/Powerpoint/De nouveaux sommets

A recent translation of a presentation prompted me to describe some aspects of this type of work, of which a unilingual person may not be aware. A conversation with the client revealed that the presentation might be presented in English but with the French version projected at the same time so that the participants (mostly French-speakers) would be able to follow.

Les diapositives anglaises étaient bien remplies, donc pas question de traduire textu sans rallonger la présentation. Il a donc fallu condenser pour laisser l’essentiel et retirer le bla-bla-bla.

The most effective way to translate such a document is to overwrite the English with French, not disturbing the layout and the fonts. Because French is 15 to 30% longer, some wording became hidden by the clip art illustrations. To make the French visible, I had to either shrink or move the illustrations so that they would not interfere.

Certaines traductions de titres étaient trop longues – j’ai les modifier et dans certains diminuer la police pour les faire entrer dans l’espace prévu.

A lengthy listing of participants included Canadian national organizations which have an official French title. I had to research their official names on the Internet and insert the new names in alphabetical order in the listing.

A chart showing a process used the words Good and Bad as legends – which of course did not allow enough space for the French – Looking outside the box, I decided to use emoticons: :-) and :-(

The spell-checking was carried out twice: first, I displayed the presentation in Outline view and copied the text unto a Word document. I then used my faithful ProLexis to carry out an extensive grammatical and spelling checks. Then I selected the whole PPT text (in Outline view), went into the Tool menu , checked language and chose French and carried out the second spell check.

L’impression finale de la présentation, en format “Handout”, m’a permis de voir la façon dont les diapos se suivent. La projection, en version Slide show, donna une vue d’ensemble.

Dave Paradi, a fellow Canadian has been sending me in the last few years his informative newsletter on ¨PowerPoint”. I have also used his book “Guide to PowerPoint” extensively. I would recommend it to any English PPT writer and to any translator.

Translation of this nature is akin to a pyramid which has to be deconstructed into its component pieces and then reassembled into its French equivalents. That is the reason I often remind my clients of a statement I borrowed from a friend and colleague of mine, Pete Peters, who worked in Quality Control at General Motors:

"Quality is never an accident: it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A creative translation/Traduction d’une allitération

Recently encountered the expression "Farm to Fork" referring to the various steps that foods go through. The text was written from the point of view of a packaging manufacturer.

The first thing that struck me was the strong alliteration, i.e. the repetition of a consonant (F) at the beginning of two consecutive words. To find the equivalent French, one has to find words that have the same meaning than the English and start by the same consonant. My muse was inspired: I found

« De la culture à la consommation »

Unfortunately, the problem with "culture" is that is applies to fruits and vegetables but not to meat (beef, pork, poultry, etc.)

J'ai alors fait une recherche sur Internet avec les résultats suivants :

1) De la ferme à l'assiette (du consommateur) - European Food Information Council (EUFIC)

2) De la ferme à la table (European Commission)

La dernière expression est mise à toutes les sauces mais c'est quand même elle qui semble la plus complète, exception faite de l'allitération. Dans le contexte de ma traduction, c'est elle que j'ai utilisée dans mon projet. Autres suggestions?

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Downloadable articles / Articles téléchargeables

A recent HPCA networking session covered the very interesting topic of articles that customers/readers can download. They may be informercial or explanatory types or they may be case studies. I decided to poll you, my readers, to find out whether you would be interested in reading articles on translation such as the one I recently wrote on “Culture in translation”.

L’utilité des articles d’information est évidente mais c’est la façon dont les clients/lecteurs les obtiennent qui m’intéresse. Mes démarches pour trouver la façon de le faire sur mon blogue n’ont rien donné jusqu’à présent. Je demande donc aux intéressés de m’envoyer un courriel au avec leurs coordonnées et je leur ferai parvenir mon article.

If such an article is of interest, please send me your contact information at the above address and I will gladly e-mail it to you.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sarkozy & Merkel - kissing cousins - Sarkozy et Merkel relancent la coopération franco-allemande - L'Express

From a North-American perspective, seeing pictures of Jacques Chirac kissing the hand of a government dignitary looked gauche and antiquated. Reading that Nicolas Sarkozy and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel kissed each other on the cheek, called each other by their first names and used the familiar "tu" is a bit over the top as well.

Ni Stephen Harper, ni Jean Charest ne se tutoient pas et je ne pense pas qu'il viendrait à l'esprit de M. Harper d'embrasser la Reine d'Angleterre. La presse dit que la France entre dans une nouvelle époque - je me demande quelles autres surprises nous attendent?

Public opinion in France, according to the Nouvel Observateur, is interestingly divided as to where the country is going.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

La ville de Québec est dans le trou\Quebec City in the hole

This is an instance when knowing English idiomatic expressions helps you to understand a Québecois expression. I chanced upon this item in the Canoe news and was struck by the formulation which was not familiar to me.

Indeed, one of the English meanings of “to be in the hole” is to be in debt and that is exactly the situation the city of Québec is in, its deficit has increased instead of being reduced.

The author of the piece (notre journaliste mobile??), has a very French sounding name, so how do we explain this apparent Anglicism? Reading further, one finds the expression

“le conseil municipal .. a soulevé plusieurs préoccupations relativement à la gestion des fonds publics….

Let’s see: “ City Council voiced many concerns relative to the management of the public funds…

Is this just a bad translation which contains not only French words in an English meaning but also uses English syntax (i.e. word order)? The expression “soulever des préoccupations” is not idiomatically French. One could have said:

“Le conseil a exprimé un grand nombre de préoccupations sur la gestion des fonds publics.”

Let us look at another example:

“La ville a fait 82 millions de dollars de revenus et en a dépensé 94 millions.

Does it sound like an English echo: “The city made $82 millions in revenue and spent 94 millions.”

A more idiomatic phrasing would have been: “Les revenus de la ville ont atteint 82 millions alors que ses dépenses - 94 millions.”

It would be interesting to find out whether the readers of Canoe Infos have noticed this piece and how they reacted to the way it is written.

I did a Google search for “faire le trou” and found a completely different meaning in the jargon of the Paris transportation network :

Etre "dans le trou" : Se dit lorsqu'un machiniste a pris beaucoup de retard par rapport au bus qui le précède. Cette situation aura pour conséquence une charge plus importante (donc une prise de retard qui ne cessera d'augmenter). Au métro on parle de tassée (prendre la tassée). A la sncf un train en retard est qualifié de "coulé".