Tuesday, August 26, 2008

French Translation Mission

On my friend Caroline's English-French Exchange site, a French member has recently proposed a bit of a challenge to the English speakers. That challenge is helping to translate his up and coming company's blog for a North American release.

So far, we've began the efforts and have one post done. We've started up a google doc that I believe is open to anyone wanting to jump in. Sadly, I'm really only able to give time over the weekend to participate, but its better than nothing I'd suppose. Also, it gives me an excuse to come into contact with French more often - other than my French course that recently started.

There is one noticeable downside in translating - espcially thoughts that are not your own. It is that its hard to collect all of the ideas, feelings, and idioms in language and transplant them into another. It really just becomes awkward to read. For example, here is an original paragraph:

Je n’ai pas pris de bureaux, pour des raisons d’utilité et de coûts. La société est domiciliée chez moi. Lorsque je préfère travailler à l’extérieur ou que l’équipe a besoin de se réunir, cela se fait dans des cafés. Étant par ailleurs amateur de café, cela m’a inspiré une ou deux choses.

Now here is the translation I provided:

I didn’t take the office because of usefulness and cost. The company is based at my house. When I prefer to work outside or when the team needs to meet, we do so in cafes. Being furthermore amateurs of coffee, it has inspired me one or two things.

See what I mean by the awkwardness? It just doesn't flow in English. And thus, its that lack of flow that I really want of focus on in my upcoming work. Who wants to read a choppy copy of French text online, eh?

Anyways, anyone interested in practicing French with our band of misfits, feel free to head to the exchange site and introduce yourself (link provided above). It'll be nice to get as much people as possible doing whatever role they can. Plus doing stuff like this in a group makes it a whole lot more fun.


  1. It's always a bit tricky to make a translation flow. I tend to err on the side of straying a bit too far from the literal translation. Here's my quick take on your example paragraph:

    I didn't get an office because it's not worth the cost. The company is based at my house. When I prefer to work outside or when the team needs to meet, it happens in cafes. Since I'm also a coffee-lover, this has given me one or two inspirations.

  2. Well, your paragraph sounds a lot better than mine did. But like I said, hopefully I get better at this with some practice.