Beat the Machine: Putting Technical Translation Under the Microscope (Sort Of)

 

A vintage toy robot
Photo Credit: Unsplash

 

By Sam Mowry

Welcome to the February follow-up of our Beat the Machine challenge! In our January post, I suggested a sentence to be translated and asked FLD members to submit their own versions, presumably improving upon the machine translated option. Now it’s time to go over some of their particularly interesting solutions.

As a refresher, this is what we were working with:

La gestion des résultats hors spécification a été revue au travers du dossier suivant : n° XYXY relatif à la fiche n° 123 de maléate de trimébutine dont le point de fusion a été mesuré non conforme ; l’hypothèse d’un capillaire trop rempli pour l’analyse a été confirmée par les séries de mesure n° 2 et n° 3 qui ont donné des résultats conformes.

And here’s what Google Translate gave us:

The management of non-specification results was reviewed through the following file: No. XYXY relating to sheet No. 123 of trimebutine maleate whose melting point was measured as non-compliant; the hypothesis of a capillary too full for analysis was confirmed by series of measurements n ° 2 and n ° 3 which gave consistent results.

Isn’t that fun? No points awarded for guessing this month’s theme, which is clearly SUPER DUPER technical. If it weren’t patently obvious (see what I did there?), this sentence was supplied by our beloved FLD colleague and technical translator extraordinaire, Karen Tkacyzk. Thanks, Karen, for this fascinating glimpse into technical translation. While this sentence struck fear into many hearts this month, mine among them, it’s an excellent opportunity to reflect and appreciate how varied the world of translation is. Even within a single language pair (French into English), the range of materials to be translated runs the gamut from literary fiction to texts like this one and literally everything in between. From a marketing perspective, it’s a good reminder that it’s almost impossible to specialize too narrowly, because this kind of extremely specific text exists in the world and needs to be translated. From a competition perspective, it’s a delight to remember that the vast majority of FR>EN translators are your colleagues, not your competition. I’m just one example, but this text is so far from the kind of texts I work with, and more importantly, it’s even farther from the kinds of texts I have any desire at all to work with. There are more than enough topics for everyone—and on the rare chance that there are many translators specializing in your language, direction, and specific subject: what a gift! A community you can reach out to when you get stuck on a term!

 Karen, blessedly, provided two translations, in her words, “the first one fairly faithful and the second more me writing what they mean”:

Translation 1:

The management of out-of-specification results was reviewed through file No. XYXY regarding form No. 123 for trimebutine maleate, where the melting point was measured as nonconforming. The hypothesis given of testing having been done with a capillary that was too full was confirmed by second and third measurement series, which gave conforming results.

Translation 2:

The management of out-of-specification results was reviewed through file No. XYXY regarding Certificate of Analysis No. 123 for trimebutine maleate, where the melting point measurement did not comply. The hypothesis given, that this was caused by testing with a capillary that was too full, was confirmed by two more series of measurements, where the results complied.

 To translate this yet again into what the sentence actually means (for laypeople like myself): there was a result that didn’t fall in line with the numbers it was supposed to. It was used as a case study for how that kind of result is handled. In this case, specifically form 123 in file no. XYXY, the melting point of a specific chemical seemed wrong. The people testing hypothesized that there was too much of said chemical in the tube to get an accurate result, which they verified by doing it two more times. Then the results were good.

Due to the nature of this sentence, evaluating the submissions we received is more a case of pass/fail, “Is this correct?” than critiquing fun turns of phrase. If you submitted a translation for this sentence, thank you! I really appreciate it, and you did a great job. All the submissions we received were reasonably accurate. I wanted to highlight one that read as particularly smooth to me, as someone without a technical background:

Out-of-specification result management was reviewed using File No. XYXY relating to Sheet No. 123 for trimebutine maleate, whose melting point was found to be non-compliant. Test series No. 2 and No. 3 yielded compliant results, which confirmed the hypothesis that a capillary tube had been overfilled during testing.

I asked Karen for her professional opinion, and she noted that, “Whoever submitted it knows what’s going on and is a decent technical translator.” Congratulations, anonymous submitter! Karen said that the only thing she’d change is that “during testing” at the end of the sentence is ambiguous, but in the source, it does mean the first series. She suggested “…during initial testing,” or “…during the first series.”

Thanks again for all of your submissions! Stay tuned for next month, which I promise will be very different indeed!

Did you forget to submit a translation in time? Not to worry! Share your version on Twitter and tag the French Language Division (@ATA_FLD) and me, @SamTranslates.

If you would like to submit a sentence for a future slam, I would like that very much! You can contact me, Sam Mowry, directly at sam [at] frenchtranslation.expert or on Twitter at the handle listed above. You can also contact the À Propos Editor Ben Karl at ben [at] bktranslation.com.

If you’d like to help launch a similar slam but into French, please also reach out!

Traduire inclusif en ressources humaines

Photo : Unsplash

Par Laurence Jay-Rayon Ibrahim Aibo, PhD

Bonjour à toustes !

Si la lecture de cette formule de politesse n’a provoqué chez vous ni embolie gazeuse ni violente allergie, vous pouvez continuer à lire le reste de cet article. Âmes résistantes au changement, s’abstenir.

La représentativité constitue un enjeu majeur en ressources humaines. Que l’on traduise une offre d’emploi, une politique d’entreprise ou une nouvelle directive, il s’agit de permettre à tout le monde (et non « à chacun », tournure genrée) de se reconnaître et de se projeter dans un texte. À une époque où les entreprises investissent des sommes considérables dans leur image et veillent à assurer une meilleure parité des genres sur leurs visuels, il est de bon ton — et grand temps — que les textes que nous traduisons soient à la hauteur.

« Aujourd’hui, une offre d’emploi rédigée uniquement avec un masculin générique (par exemple, informaticien recherché) pourrait être perçue comme sexiste. Un texte qui s’adresse à un lectorat mixte, ou qui concerne des hommes et des femmes, peut être rédigé de manière à ce que les deux sexes s’y trouvent équitablement représentés. » (Druide. « Rédaction inclusive ». Points de langue. Avril 2020.)

Ceci n’est pas plus une stratégie

« Dans ce texte, le masculin englobe les deux genres et est utilisé pour alléger le texte. »

Bien entendu, la foudre ne s’abattra pas sur vous si vous utilisez encore cette formule ô combien pratique (« je n’ai pas à m’embêter et puis on a toujours fait comme ça ![1] »), mais, progressivement, votre clientèle exigera de vous, spécialistes de la langue, des solutions. « En français, l’identité de genre des personnes et le genre grammatical, féminin ou masculin, sont étroitement associés. » (OQLF, Banque de dépannage linguistique)

Force est de constater que toutes les régions francophones n’en sont pas au même stade de réflexion. Le Québec a, très tôt, commencé à se pencher sérieusement sur le sujet. Il n’est donc pas surprenant de trouver une pléthore de recommandations, de guides et de suggestions linguistiques en matière de rédaction inclusive au Québec. En France, l’indifférence et la résistance des autorités linguistiques et de certaines institutions ont considérablement ralenti la créativité linguistique. Aujourd’hui, cependant, personne ne veut être en reste et la plupart des pays francophones d’Europe ont emboîté le pas au Québec, à des degrés différents.

Dans ce qui suit, je présenterai quelques stratégies toutes simples pouvant être appliquées aux textes de ressources humaines que nous traduisons de l’anglais au français, langue qui marque plus fortement le genre que l’anglais et dont l’évolution se heurte à des résistances de tous genres. Partant du principe que la traduction est une forme de rédaction contrainte, les mots « rédaction » et « rédiger » utilisés ci‑dessous engloberont automatiquement l’activité de traduction. Je précise que ce billet n’a aucune prétention à effectuer un recensement exhaustif de toutes les ressources des régions francophones évoquées.

Le Petit Robert en ligne précise que l’écriture inclusive s’efforce « d’assurer une représentation égale des hommes et des femmes dans les textes. » Aussitôt dit, aussitôt fait ? Pas si vite, pas si simple. Féminiser un texte consiste à utiliser des formes féminines en le rédigeant, ce qui peut passer par la féminisation des noms de professions (informaticien ou informaticienne, informaticien(-ne), informaticien·ne) ou par le choix de certaines formes grammaticales (tous et toutes). On reviendra sur le choix des formes à notre disposition dans quelques instants. L’écriture épicène, c’est-à-dire qui ne varie pas en fonction du genre, constitue l’une des autres stratégies pouvant être mises en œuvre. « Le nom journaliste, l’adjectif pauvre et le pronom je sont épicènes. » (Dictionnaire Usito). La prolifération récente des guides et manuels d’écriture épicène montre que cette stratégie est aujourd’hui recommandée partout et par tout le monde, car elle permet d’alléger le texte sans imposer de changement et, par conséquent, sans provoquer de résistance audit changement.

Examinons quelques stratégies de rédaction équitable, puis quelques exemples de stratégies de rédaction épicène.

Doublets

  • Les conseillers et les conseillères

Alternance de désignations à caractère dit « générique »

  • Utiliser à tour de rôle « infirmier » et « infirmière »

Accord de proximité

  • Les rédacteurs et rédactrices sont préparées.
  • Les rédactrices et rédacteurs sont préparés.

Notons au passage que l’accord de proximité est encore loin de faire l’unanimité et qu’il est encore difficile, dans le milieu de la traduction, de le proposer à sa clientèle, bien que la règle d’accord du masculin générique n’ait pas toujours existé. En effet, l’accord de proximité a été appliqué dans la langue française pendant plusieurs siècles.

L’utilisation de la troncation, encore appelée doublets abrégés, constitue une autre stratégie d’équité linguistique, dont les formes préconisées varient en fonction des sphères géographiques et des préférences personnelles. L’auteur·e de l’article « Rédaction inclusive » publié dans Points de langue en avril 2020 conseille de les réserver « à des contextes exceptionnels où l’espace manque (tableaux, formulaires) et où aucune solution de rechange n’est possible », et propose un classement des formes de troncation en fonction de leur « nuisance croissante », dont voici la distribution :

« adjoint(e)s
résident·e·s
salarié[é]s
plombier/ière/s
réviseur-euse-s
étudiantEs
lecteur.trice.s »

La troncation avec point médian, comme dans « les candidat·e·s » ou « les candidat·es » (notons que la seconde formule, avec point médian unique où la marque du pluriel est accolée à la marque du féminin, semble être aujourd’hui davantage préconisée que la première), est beaucoup utilisée en sciences sociales et dans la presse française. Les doublets abrégés, comme dans « autorisation du (de la) directeur(‑trice) » ou « signature du [de la] sauveteur[-euse] », sont préconisés par l’Office québécois de la langue française (OQLF). Le Bureau de la traduction, au Canada, déconseille fortement tout signe de troncation, position assez problématique lorsque l’on traduit un texte avec de fortes contraintes spatiales, tel qu’un formulaire, et que des doublets complets ou une tournure épicène sont impossibles. Avant d’aller plus loin, précisons que les partisans du point médian font valoir que ce signe typographique était disponible, au sens de « pas encore pris », tandis que le point traditionnel marque la fin d’une phrase, que les parenthèses indiquent un propos secondaire (connotation problématique lorsque l’objectif désiré est l’équité), que la barre oblique fait référence à la division et que le tiret est déjà utilisé pour le trait d’union (dont la connotation est cependant nettement moins problématique que les parenthèses).

Qui fait quoi ?

Au Québec, la plupart des universités publient des guides sur la féminisation et sur la rédaction inclusive. L’Office québécois de la langue française, le Bureau de la traduction et Druide, l’entreprise de services linguistiques qui est à l’origine du logiciel Antidote, mais aussi du blogue Points de langue, offrent une pléthore de ressources, dont certaines figurent dans la liste de références qui suit cet article.

En France, les multiples résistances de l’Académie française ont considérablement retardé l’entérinement de la féminisation des noms de métier. L’écriture épicène et la troncation avec point médian sont aujourd’hui préconisées par certains organismes publics, dont le Haut Conseil à l’Égalité, qui publie un guide pratique intitulé Pour une communication publique sans stéréotype de sexe. Le point médian semble être rentré dans les mœurs de certaines rédactions et l’agence de communication Mots-clés publie un Manuel d’écriture inclusive recommandé dans certaines universités françaises.

En Suisse, des efforts conséquents ont été déployés en la matière, notamment par l’Université de Genève (Guide romand d’aide à la rédaction administrative et législative épicène) et par le Canton de Vaud (« Exemples et conseils pour la rédaction épicène »).

Quelques solutions toutes simples en ressources humaines

On trouvera ci-dessous quelques suggestions de traductions neutres ou épicènes propres au domaine des ressources humaines :

Le personnel, le personnel salarié (employees)

Cadre, direction, responsable, supérieur·e, dirigeant·e (Manager/management/supervisor)

La clientèle (clients)

La main-d’œuvre (workers, workforce)

L’effectif (workforce)

Les collègues (coworkers)

Le corps enseignant (professors)

Son ou sa supérieur·e (their supervisor)

Son ou sa responsable (their supervisor)

La personne

  • La personne salariée (employee)
  • La nouvelle recrue (new employee)

La personne, cette formidable désignation

Le mot épicène « personne » constitue une stratégie d’écriture aussi simple qu’efficace, comme l’illustrent les quelques exemples qui suivent.

Droits de la personne (Droits de l’homme)

Exemples d’utilisation du mot « personne » au Québec et au Canada :

  • Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (QC)
  • Charte des droits et libertés de la personne (QC)
  • Tribunal des droits de la personne (QC)
  • Loi canadienne sur les droits de la personne (CA)

Cet extrait de la Trousse d’accueil et d’intégration en emploi des libraires publiée par le Conseil québécois des ressources humaines en culture fait une belle démonstration de la simplicité d’utilisation de l’écriture épicène en ressources humaines[2].

« On peut saisir la culture organisationnelle d’une librairie à partir du choix du fonds de livres, des livres qui sont mis en évidence, des caractéristiques des personnes sélectionnées pour y travailler, de la nature des conseils prodigués à la clientèle. »

  • Toute entreprise a avantage à définir de manière précise les conditions de travail des personnes qu’elle embauche.
  • Conseiller la clientèle sur des choix possibles de lecture et répondre à des demandes particulières. Écouter attentivement la demande formulée par la personne.
  • Soumettre à la personne responsable des achats dans la librairie la liste des livres à acheter.
  • L’employeur[3] peut effectuer une retenue sur le salaire si elle est consécutive à une loi, un règlement, une ordonnance du tribunal, une convention collective, un décret ou un régime de retraite à adhésion obligatoire. Il doit obtenir un consentement écrit de la part de la personne salariée pour toute autre retenue. »

L’utilisation de noms collectifs (clientèle, auditoire), du nom des services d’une entreprise (la direction, la comptabilité, le service du personnel) ou de mots épicènes (spécialiste, bénévole, collègue) permet de facilement dégenrer le texte. On retrouve d’ailleurs souvent ces stratégies d’écriture dans la presse de langue française, qui évoque « le milieu de la traduction », « le patronat », « la rédaction », etc.

Le Canton de Vaud, dans son excellent « Exemples et conseils pour la rédaction épicène », propose quelques trucs fort astucieux en matière de tournures non personnelles. Il s’agit ici de mettre l’accent non pas sur la personne en elle-même, mais plutôt sur son autorité, sa compétence, son activité ou son état, éléments d’ailleurs beaucoup plus pertinents que le genre en milieu de travail.

  • Date de naissance (plutôt que « Né/Née le… »).
  • Le tribunal fixe les sanctions de sorte que… (plutôt que « Le juge fixe »).
  • Les secours sont arrivés (plutôt que « Les sauveteurs… »).
  • En cas de blessure, ne pas laisser l’élève sans surveillance (plutôt que « ne pas laisser l’élève blessé seul »).

Le Manuel d’écriture inclusive de l’agence Mots-Clés illustre les possibles à partir de la déclinaison suivante :

Formulation genrée initiale :

« Merci à tous d’être à leurs côtés. »

Formulation inclusive fléchie :

« Merci à tous et à toutes d’être à leurs côtés. »

Formulations inclusives épicènes :

  • « Merci d’être à leurs côtés[4]. »
  • « Merci à vous d’être à leurs côtés. »
  • « Merci à tout le monde d’être à leurs côtés. »
  • « Merci à l’ensemble de nos collègues d’être à leurs côtés. »

Au-delà des tournures ci-dessus, assorties de degrés d’économie variables, les spécialistes de la langue que nous sommes disposent d’une autre tournure, très économique, mais nouvelle. Les personnes présentant une résistance naturelle au changement sont susceptibles de sursauter. Cependant, posons‑nous en toute honnêteté la question essentielle : qui ne comprend pas le sens de « Merci à toustes » ?

Il en va de même pour les pronoms non binaires « iel » et « iels », qui sont les formes les plus fréquemment utilisées pour traduire en français le « they » non binaire, même si quelques variations orthographiques sont parfois observées (« ielle » et « ielles »). Bien que ces pronoms n’aient fait leur apparition que tout récemment, ils se comprennent parfaitement en contexte.

Progressivement, les textes que nous traduirons en ressources humaines reflèteront une volonté d’intégration de toutes les personnes, au-delà du masculin générique et du binaire traditionnel. La langue doit suivre, y compris la nôtre, et elle suit déjà. Il suffit d’observer son usage actuel pour s’en rendre compte. Il est donc important de pouvoir être force de proposition vis-à-vis de notre clientèle. Par ailleurs, en mettant en avant cette compétence, nous nous dotons d’un atout supplémentaire de taille, qui ajoute de la valeur aux services que nous offrons.

Merci à toustes de votre attention.

[1] Oui, la terre était plate aussi pendant longtemps.

[2] Caractères gras ajoutés par l’auteure.

[3] « Employeur » est ici utilisé au sens de personne morale (entité juridique), et non de personne physique.

[4] Palme de la tournure économique.

Photo : Laurence Ibrahim Aibo

Laurence Jay-Rayon Ibrahim Aibo est titulaire d’une maîtrise et d’un doctorat en traduction de l’Université de Montréal. Elle est traductrice agréée par l’OTTIAQ, au Québec, et interprète médicale agréée par la CCHI, aux États-Unis. Elle exerce depuis une trentaine d’années et a commencé sa carrière en Europe, puis en Afrique avant de se tourner vers les Amériques. Aujourd’hui, elle enseigne la traduction à l’école de traduction Magistrad, à Québec, et l’interprétation et la traduction à l’Université du Massachusetts Amherst. Ses domaines de spécialisation comprennent le secteur médical, les ressources humaines, les sciences humaines et sociales, la culture et le sous-titrage. Elle dirige le projet de traduction d’archives coloniales intitulé Colony in Crisis in Haitian Creole et sa première monographie, The Politics of Transaltion Sound Motif in African Fiction, est sortie en mars 2020 chez John Benjamins Publishing. Coordonnées : laurence@intofrenchtranslations.com | https://intofrenchtranslations.com/home/

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Liste de références

ARTICLES

Auteur anonyme. « La bataille de l’écriture épicène ». https://cursus.edu/articles/43843/la-bataille-de-lecriture-epicene. Thot Cursus. 7 octobre 2020.

Auteur anonyme. « Rédaction inclusive ». Points de langue. Druide. Avril 2020. https://www.druide.com/fr/enquetes/redaction-inclusive

Bruno. « Pourquoi utilise-t-on le point milieu dans l’écriture inclusive ? Le Figaro, 23 novembre 2017 https://leconjugueur.lefigaro.fr/blog/point-milieu-ecriture-inclusive/#:~:text=Le%20point%20milieu%20(aussi%20appel%C3%A9,%C3%A0%20la%20place%20des%20espaces.

Eschapasse, Baudouin. « Écriture inclusive, on caricature le débat ». Le Point, 29 octobre 2017. https://www.lepoint.fr/societe/ecriture-inclusive-on-caricature-le-debat-27-10-2017-2167914_23.php

DICTIONNAIRES SPÉCIALISÉS

James, Christopher, et Antoine Tirard. Dictionnaire des Ressources humaines : français-anglais/Dictionary of Human Resources: English-French. 4e édition. Rueil-Malmaison : Éditions Liaisons, 2009.

Ménard, Louis. Dictionnaire de la comptabilité et de la gestion financière. Version numérique 3.1. Institut canadien des comptables agréés, 2014. [Une nouvelle version numérique sort en décembre 2020]

Peretti, Jean-Marie. Dictionnaire des Ressources humaines. 7e édition. Paris : Vuibert, 2015.

DOCUMENTS TYPES ET GUIDES DE RÉFÉRENCE EN FRANÇAIS

Agences Mots-Clés (France). Manuel d’écriture inclusive. https://www.motscles.net/ecriture-inclusive

Association Divergenres. https://divergenres.org/regles-de-grammaire-neutre-et-inclusive/

Haut Conseil à l’Égalité (France). Guide pratique pour une communication publique sans stéréotype de sexe. https://www.haut-conseil-egalite.gouv.fr/stereotypes-et-roles-sociaux/bibliographie/

Conseil québécois des ressources humaines en culture. Trousse d’accueil et d’intégration en emploi des libraires

Canton de Vaud (Suisse). « Exemples et conseils pour la rédaction épicène ». https://www.vd.ch/guide-typo3/les-principes-de-redaction/redaction-egalitaire/exemples-et-conseils-pour-la-redaction-epicene/

Université de Genève (Suisse). Guide romand d’aide à la rédaction administrative et législative épicène. https://www.unige.ch/rectorat/egalite/files/9314/0353/2716/charte_epicene_GE_ecrire_genres.pdf

LEXIQUES, GLOSSAIRES, RECOMMANDATIONS AU QUÉBEC ET AU CANADA

Office québécois de la langue française. Articles sur la féminisation et la rédaction épicène.

Office québécois de la langue française. Formation sur la rédaction épicène. (2018)

Bureau de la traduction. Recommandations sur l’écriture inclusive dans la correspondance

Bureau de la traduction. Lexique sur la diversité sexuelle et de genre : https://www.btb.termiumplus.gc.ca/publications/diversite-diversity-fra.html?fbclid=IwAR34q_vFMc4vVSngX9RxO_mYLTvmlbz3sHP78y3igMctQVjyBVJDKj-eU8w

 

Polishing the Style of Your French-to-English Translations

Photo credit: Khunkorn Laowisit via Pexels

By Kate Deimling

How do we know if a translation is good? Most people probably think of accuracy first, but we shouldn’t forget about style. Of course, a translation must accurately reflect the meaning of the source. But the way it expresses this meaning is also important.

Photo credit: Vitor Koshimoto via Pexels

The style should always be tailored to the context and the audience: a marketing text needs a certain kind of writing, while an international development report requires a very different tone. Style is especially important for writing that wants to inform and convince: to convince someone to buy something, to convince someone of an argument, or simply to convince them to continue reading! After all, the reader will close the book or navigate away from the screen if they don’t feel engaged.

Here are some translation strategies for dealing with common features of French style, along with tips for efficient revision. For this post, I’ve cherry-picked points from a talk I gave at the October 2020 virtual ATA conference. Examples are all from my own translations.

Creating Contrast with Si

Si is a very common connector word in French that can be translated a variety of ways. When si is used for contrast, the word “if” is a lot weaker in English, and alternatives will make a stronger impression. Here’s an example:

French: Si la Baigneuse est un sujet traditionnel de la peinture et de la sculpture, Picasso l’investit d’une manière toute singulière. 

Photo credit: Fiskhumla (Creative Commons license via Wikimedia)

English translation 1: While the bather is a traditional subject in painting and sculpture, Picasso treated it in a very unique way.

English translation 2: Although the bather is a traditional subject painting and sculpture, Picasso treated it in a very unique way.

English translation 3: The bather is a traditional subject in painting and sculpture, but Picasso treated it in a very unique way.

These are all acceptable choices for translating “si,” though the second two versions are probably more common in US English.

Don’t “Bury the Lede”

Photo credit: Elizaveta Kozorezova via Pexels

“Burying the lede” means hiding the most important information later in the news story, instead of emphasizing it at the beginning. Here’s an example where the translator should move the essential information to the front of the sentence in English:

French: Au fil des années, sous l’impulsion de ses directeurs et de ses ingénieurs qui, sous l’influence du terrain et des chantiers, ont créé leur propre champ de recherche, le LRMH a grandi.

English translation: The LRMH has grown over the years, spurred on by its directors and engineers who have created their own field of research through fieldwork and major projects.

Reordering sentences improves the translation more often than you might think. Here’s a sentence from a report on young people and the internet. It took me some time to figure out how I wanted to rework it for a stronger effect in English:

Photo credit: Sharon McCutcheon via Pexels

French: La nécessité de mieux comprendre le rapport des jeunes à Internet, aux plateformes et aux réseaux sociaux apparaît d’autant plus forte dans la période actuelle où les mesures de confinement liées à la crise du Covid-19 impliquent une utilisation plus grande des outils numériques.

My initial translation followed the French sentence structure:

English translation 1: The need to better understand young people’s relationship to the internet, social media, and online platforms appears even more crucial in the current period, when isolation measures due to the Covid-19 crisis involve increased use of digital tools.

When revising, I thought this sounded a bit stilted. So, I asked myself: how would this sentence read if I saw it in an English-language report? I decided to rearrange the relationship between the two key elements: “in the current period” and “even more crucial.” This is what I came up with:

English translation 2: Today, when isolation measures in response to the Covid-19 crisis have increased the use of digital technology, it is more crucial than ever to understand young people’s relationship to the internet and social media.

What’s the Best Way to Revise for Style?

Photo credit: Ketut Subiyanto via Pexels

Does this mean we should revise our translations over and over again to perfect their style? No. With tight deadlines and a demanding workflow, this just isn’t practical. Plus, you can tinker with a translation forever without coming up with a single “right” version. So, how can you approach revising in a way that’s both effective and efficient?

Here are a few tips:

  • If time allows, set your translation aside and revise it later when you can take a fresh look at it and catch any phrasing that sounds awkward.
  • Read over your translation while putting the source text aside. Read aloud to check for readability. This can help catch proofreading errors too!
  • Make stylistic changes in the context of surrounding sentences. For instance, instead of repeating the conjunction “but” in two adjacent sentences, rephrase one sentence with “although.”

Extra Tips

Photo credit: Ketut Subiyanto via Pexels
  • Know yourself and your tendencies!
  • If you translate fast, you may have produced an overly literal translation. Make sure to set the translation aside and read it afresh when revising. This will help you focus on issues of style.
  • If you tend to be a perfectionist, estimate how long revising should take. (You’ll need to come up with your own sense of this timing, based on the fee for the job, client expectations, the purpose of the translation, and so on.) Then set a timer. Check the timer and pace yourself as you revise so that you don’t spend too long on any one section.

Now you’re ready to polish those translations until they shine!

 

Kate Deimling

An ATA-certified French-to-English translator, Kate Deimling loves learning new things, whether she’s translating a museum audioguide or a report on climate change or writing copy about gemstone jewelry. She holds a Ph.D. in French and previously worked as a French professor and an art journalist. She has translated six books and her volunteer activities include serving on the PR committee of the ATA and directing the mentoring program of the New York Circle of Translators, an ATA chapter. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing, cooking, and playing word games. You can find her online at katedeimling.com.

Beat the Machine: New Year, New Challenge

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Photo Credit: Unsplash

By Sam Mowry

It’s a new year and a new chance to learn from our respected colleagues to improve our translations through the Beat the Machine Mini Translation Slam. If you need a quick refresher, you can read about the premise in our inaugural post here. Very simply, we’re out to prove how much better human translators are than machines and maybe learn something from one another in the process. This time we’re going a different direction, with a sentence submitted by technical translator extraordinaire Karen Tkaczyk, so you know this is going to be a wild time:

La gestion des résultats hors spécification a été revue au travers du dossier suivant : n° XYXY relatif à la fiche n° 123 de maléate de trimébutine dont le point de fusion a été mesuré non conforme ; l’hypothèse d’un capillaire trop rempli pour l’analyse a été confirmée par les séries de mesure n°2 et n° 3 qui ont donné des résultats conformes.

Not exactly poetry! This is what Google’s output looks like:

The management of non-specification results was reviewed through the following file: No. XYXY relating to sheet No. 123 of trimebutine maleate whose melting point was measured as non-compliant; the hypothesis of a capillary too full for analysis was confirmed by series of measurements n ° 2 and n ° 3 which gave consistent results.

The technically minded terminology sleuths amongst us should have a field day with this one!

Submit your (obviously) much better translation here by January 31, 2021, and the blog post discussing it will go up in early February!

Please note the following:

  • Only FLD members will have their translations posted on this blog. Membership is free for current ATA members, so if you aren’t a member yet, make sure to join before you submit your translation!
  • You are free to submit your sentence anonymously, but half the fun will be crediting the creative submissions we receive by name and recognizing their authors.
  • You may submit as many times as you like in case you have a stroke of genius after your initial submission. I will only discuss one submission per person in the review post.

Have you translated or read a particularly pesky sentence this past year that you can share for this project? Please send it along! Are you interested in helping us do the same virtual translation slam, but from English to French? We’d love to have one or more volunteers to do this series, but in reverse! If you’re interested, please contact Ben Karl, the À Propos editor, at ben [at] bktranslation.com or myself, Sam Mowry, at sam [at] frenchtranslation.expert to let us know!

 

Beat the Machine: 2020 Wrap Up

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Photo Credit: Unsplash

Welcome to part two of our second Beat the Machine challenge and our last Beat the Machine post of 2020! In our September post, I gave a sentence to be translated and asked FLD members to submit their own versions, presumably improving upon the machine translated option. Now we’ll go over some particularly interesting options.

As a refresher, this is what we were working with, taken from Le Devoir:

Mais si les relations sont aujourd’hui plus conflictuelles que jamais, il était pour ainsi dire écrit dans le ciel que la formidable croissance économique chinoise des quarante dernières années, orchestrée qui plus est, depuis huit ans, par un régime Xi particulièrement autoritaire et expansionniste, finirait par déboucher sur une lutte de pouvoir de grande envergure entre la Chine et un empire américain qui n’est forcément plus ce qu’il était.

Here’s what Google Translate gave us:

But if relations are today more conflictual than ever, it was almost written in the sky that the tremendous Chinese economic growth of the last forty years, orchestrated moreover, for eight years, by a particularly authoritarian and expansionist Xi regime, would eventually lead to a large-scale power struggle between China and an American empire that is not necessarily what it used to be.

We have plenty to work with, so let’s dig in! We’ll start with each phrase before talking about strategies for breaking down the sentence as a whole.

Mais si

“Si” to start a sentence is a well-known and fully despised French convention. The five respondents all chose different and equally valid solutions: “However,” “Though,” “Since,” are very appropriate. Two particularly interesting options here were simply starting the sentence with “And…” which is a fun way to mix up sentence structures in English (and reflets the French! You can view the full paragraph this sentence was taken from in the September post). One respondent, Beth Smith, foreshadowed the broad timeline of the rest of the sentence by starting with “Nowadays…”. I particularly like this option because it conveys the sense of “So, this thing…” that the “si” hooks into, but also incorporates a time element.

…les relations sont aujourd’hui plus conflictuelles que jamais…

“Relations” and “relationship” were both used, and both are valid here. The international aspect suggests “relations” (as in “foreign relations,” “international relations”), but since it’s between two specific entities, I think relationship is also applicable. All of the human respondents discarded Google Translate’s painfully literal “conflictual,” which is apparently a real English word. Interestingly, out of five submissions, they all selected one of two options. “Contentious” was more popular, with three submissions, and the other two used “fraught.”

…il était pour ainsi dire écrit dans le ciel…

Here we come face to face with Google Translate’s nemesis: figures of speech. I assure you that no skywriting was involved in announcing this news. In another distinct win for the humans, none of the human translators fell for this trap. Many good options here: “it almost seems like fate,” “it was inevitable,” “we might have predicted,” and “It was almost a foregone conclusion.”

…que la formidable croissance économique chinoise des quarante dernières années, orchestrée qui plus est, depuis huit ans, par un régime Xi particulièrement autoritaire et expansionniste…

Formidable had a number of good options: incredible, remarkable are both very solid. My favorite, from Andie Ho, was “prodigious.” The rest of this section is frankly straightforward (“economic growth,” “authoritarian and expansionist”), and the real problems come with how you fit it in with the rest, so we’ll address that later. One fun twist I particularly liked was offered by Ben Karl, who opted for “four decades” of economic growth instead of forty years. Since “eight years” comes up only a few words later, this is particularly clever to avoid repeating “last x years” almost immediately.”

…finirait par déboucher sur…

“Finir par” is another known and loathed French construction. All five translators combined “finirait par déboucher sur” into one expression, rather than getting bogged down by needing to render every word in English, with something like “would result in leading to” or similar. Good options included “lead to,” “end in,” “end up as.”

…une lutte de pouvoir de grande envergure…

Google Translate gave us “large-scale,” which is adequate. Two translators used “major,” and my favorite option was submitted by Andie Ho, who used “all-out brawl.” That seems a little bit more aggressive than the French, but it certainly is large-scale, and I love the idiomatic use of brawl.

 …entre la Chine et un empire américain qui n’est forcément plus ce qu’il était.

Everyone stuck pretty close to the source here, perhaps as an effect of fatigue from battling through the rest of the sentence. But it’s not inaccurate to say, “between China and an American empire that is no longer what it once was.” A more literary option might be “an American empire no longer in its heyday,” or perhaps “an American empire past its prime.”

Sentence breaks

Obviously, this sentence is a little unwieldy in English, and are a couple options to handle that. One person left it as one sentence, which is ultimately fine. Two people set off a section in the middle with em dashes, and one person used both em dashes and also segmented the first section as a separate sentence (“Nowadays, the relationship is more contentious than ever.”) The decision of how much to split off into a separate sentence depends heavily on the surrounding context and how much you want to vary sentence length for that reason.

Piecing together some of the best parts of all the sentences, here is a suggested composite:

Since the US–China relationship is as contentious as it has ever been, it almost seems like fate that China’s prodigious economic growth over the last forty years—orchestrated for the last eight by an especially authoritarian and expansionist Xi Jinping regime—would eventually lead to an all-out brawl between China and an American empire decidedly past its prime.

I don’t know about you, but I’m really pleased with that! That’s a considered sentence that does a number of clever things and avoids all of the worst pitfalls Google Translate replicated. Chalk up another win for the humans!

Did you forget to submit a translation in time? Not to worry! Share your version on Twitter and tag the French Language Division (@ATA_FLD) and me, @SamTranslates.

If you would like to submit a sentence for a future slam, I would like that very much! You can contact me, Sam Mowry, directly at sam [at] frenchtranslation.expert or on Twitter at the handle listed above. You can also contact the À Propos Editor Ben Karl at ben [at] bktranslation.com.

If you’d like to help launch a similar slam but into French, please also reach out! We would love to get this going in both directions.

Preview of the French track at #ATA61

Virtual conference
Photo Credit: Unsplash

By the FLD team

ATA61 is right around the corner! Below you will find a preview of all the sessions in the French track. Remember that ATA-certified translators can earn one CEP for each hour of conference sessions attended, up to a maximum of 10 CEPs. Plus, all the sessions will be recorded and made available to attendees after the conference, so you won’t miss a thing!

Mastering Cultural Nuances in French: Identifying and Translating Regionalisms

Natalie Pavey, CT

This session will focus on increasing your awareness of regional variations of French and identifying when a construction is characteristic of a specific geographic area. It will also propose strategies for translating region-specific vocabulary, expressions, idioms, and colloquialisms to capture the richness of the French language in your translations. Examples will be used to demonstrate how cultural awareness, local knowledge, and a solid understanding of standard French all come into play when attempting to retain local color in the target language.

Thursday, October 22 from 5:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m. EDT

Who’s Afraid of DeepL?

Dirk Siepmann

Machine translation (MT) tools like DeepL have become a significant concern to the translation industry. Clients either turn away from professional translators, assuming that DeepL will do the job just as well, or they submit a machine-translated text for post-editing, blithely unaware that this may be more time-consuming than translating from scratch. This session will examine the strengths and weaknesses of DeepL and suggest strategies for post-editing. It will demonstrate that fully automated high-quality MT is still out of reach. In what ways does the machine either assist or mislead translators, and when to do without it? Presented with examples from German and French.

Friday, October 23 from 2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. EDT

Style is Everything: Tips for Polishing Your French>English Translations

Kate Deimling, CT

This session will examine various aspects of French style and discuss approaches to translating them into well-written English. The goal is to identify problematic features in French while translating, instead of noticing stilted language while proofing the translation. Examples will come from various fields, including academic writing, journalism, international policy, and marketing. French style is more roundabout, whereas in English it’s important not to “bury the lede.” A main topic will be word order, including indications of time and place. The speaker will also discuss how to express emphasis and contrast. There will be an interactive portion for attendee contributions.

Friday, October 23 from 3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. EDT

French>English Official Document Translation: From Attestation to Zoologie

Samantha Mowry, CT

The translator of French>English official documents has to contend with dozens of document types (e.g., birth/death/marriage certificates, criminal record reports, academic transcripts/certificates/diplomas at all levels of education, report cards, and more). The challenges are multiplied by the more than 25 countries using French as a language of government and academic instruction. This session will focus on the terminology in this field, including solutions for stock phrases commonly found on civil records and academic documentation, ambiguous course names in specialized fields, and the differences in grading systems. The speaker will include a detailed take-home glossary.

Friday, October 23 from 5:00 p.m.–6:00 p.m. EDT

Inclusive English>French Translation for Human Resources in Francophone Europe and Canada

Laurence Jay-Rayon Ibrahim Aibo

Inclusive writing in human resources (HR) is now being recommended in Francophone Europe and Canada to address gender-based stereotypes and discrimination in the workplace. Translating from English into French, which is a gender-marked language, presents challenges when it comes to recreating an inclusive text. Attendees will learn about current recommendations for inclusive writing in Francophone Europe and Canada and gender-neutral strategies when translating HR materials into French. This session will be relevant to both English>French and French>English translators. Sample challenges and solutions will be discussed, and attendees will receive a handout with examples and resources.

Saturday, October 24 from 2:00 p.m.–3:00 p.m. EDT

Thanks in advance to all of the presenters—we can’t wait! If any of you are interested in turning your presentations into blog posts, you know where to find us!

It still isn’t too late to register for ATA’s first virtual conference! Head over to ata61.org/register/ to reserve your spot and “see” you all next week!

 

Beat the Machine: September Translation Slam

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Photo Credit: Unsplash

By Sam Mowry

After a rollicking start to our Beat the Machine online translation slam, we’re back with a new sentence! If you need a quick refresher, you can read about the premise in our inaugural post here. Very simply, we’re out to prove how much better human translators are than machines and maybe learn something from one another in the process.

Here is the sentence for this month:

Mais si les relations sont aujourd’hui plus conflictuelles que jamais, il était pour ainsi dire écrit dans le ciel que la formidable croissance économique chinoise des quarante dernières années, orchestrée qui plus est, depuis huit ans, par un régime Xi particulièrement autoritaire et expansionniste, finirait par déboucher sur une lutte de pouvoir de grande envergure entre la Chine et un empire américain qui n’est forcément plus ce qu’il était.

What was that I said last month about French being fond of long sentences? This one will give you ample opportunity to wade through and potentially break into as many shorter sentences as you see fit. The sky is the limit!

For context, Xi refers to Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China, who has been in power since 2012. His name doesn’t require any particular treatment, and “Xi regime” would be a fine translation in this context (but feel free as always to get creative!).

Here is the full paragraph the sentence came from:

Que Pékin ne joue pas franc jeu en matière commerciale est notoire et que la dictature chinoise ait depuis longtemps à l’ordre international un rapport « inadéquat » est incontestable. Que M. Trump joue la corde antichinoise à l’approche de la présidentielle, il fallait s’y attendre. Mais si les relations sont aujourd’hui plus conflictuelles que jamais, il était pour ainsi dire écrit dans le ciel que la formidable croissance économique chinoise des quarante dernières années, orchestrée qui plus est, depuis huit ans, par un régime Xi particulièrement autoritaire et expansionniste, finirait par déboucher sur une lutte de pouvoir de grande envergure entre la Chine et un empire américain qui n’est forcément plus ce qu’il était. Nous y voilà. Pour l’heure, l’ordre du monde est façonné par les faucons des deux côtés.

If you’d like to read the full article from Le Devoir, you may find it here.

Here is Google’s feeble attempt:

But if relations are today more conflictual than ever, it was almost written in the sky that the tremendous Chinese economic growth of the last forty years, orchestrated moreover, for eight years, by a particularly authoritarian and expansionist Xi regime , would eventually lead to a large-scale power struggle between China and an American empire that is not necessarily what it used to be.

Submit your much better translation here by September 30, 2020, and the blog post discussing it will go live in October!

Please note the following:

  • Only FLD members will have their translations posted on this blog. Membership is free for current ATA members, so if you aren’t a member yet, make sure to join before you submit your translation!
  • You are free to submit your sentence anonymously, but half the fun will be crediting the creative submissions we receive by name and recognizing their authors.
  • You may submit as many times as you like in case you have a stroke of genius after your initial submission. I will only discuss one submission per person in the review post.

Have you translated or read a particularly pesky sentence this year that you can share for this project? Please send it along! Are you interested in helping us do the same virtual translation slam, but from English to French? We’d love to have one or more volunteers to do this series, but in reverse! If you’re interested, please contact Ben Karl, the À Propos editor, at ben [at] bktranslation.com or myself, Sam Mowry, at sam [at] translation.expert to let us know!

Beat the Machine: Weaving Musical Genres in Austria?

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Photo Credit: Unsplash

Welcome to part two of our inaugural Beat the Machine mini translation slam! In our July post, I asked FLD members to re-translate a complicated sentence to improve upon the machine translation output provided in the post. Now it’s time to review some of the submissions!

Before diving in, I would like to acknowledge that I may have had a little bit of hubris when selecting this first sentence. One of my favorite FLD members suggested it and I thought, “perfect, this thing is a mess, let’s do it!” Then I sat down to tackle it myself and… eesh, this sentence really was a challenge! The good news is that this has been a fun learning experience for us all, and I now know what I’m looking for in future sentences. The other good news is that many of our colleagues were clearly less daunted than I and submitted some really creative solutions. So, let’s dig in!

To refresh our memory, this was the sentence we were working with:

L’excellentissime pianiste classique autrichien Friedrich Gulda n’eût peut-être pas été d’accord, lui qui ne cessa de transgresser les deux grands ordres (jazz et classique) en les reprisant et déprisant dans des concerts qui filaient standards de jazz, classiques des classiques.

And here’s what DeepL gave us:

Perhaps the excellent Austrian classical pianist Friedrich Gulda would not have agreed, as he never stopped transgressing the two great orders (jazz and classical) by reproducing them in concerts that spun jazz standards, classics from classics.

As foreshadowed, there are a lot of things we’re working with here. There are four different parts to this monster, so let’s take it part by part before addressing some really neat things some people did with the structure of the sentence as a whole.

L’excellentissime pianiste classique autrichien Friedrich Gulda…

In the first seven words, everyone agrees about three of them. “Friedrich Gulda” and “Austrian” are pretty concrete! Things immediately diverge after that. Some of the options for excellentissime were excellent, brilliant, and outstanding. However, two people did something pretty clever here, opting for “virtuoso” in English. This is particularly delightful because it folds the level of skill into the noun: Friedrich Gulda, classical piano virtuoso. The alternative, [adjective] + [classical pianist], is perfectly accurate, but virtuoso conveys a level of talent beyond “excellent” that better matches excellentissime (the –issime meaning very excellent) and changes up the sentence structure ever so slightly.

…n’eût peut-être pas été d’accord…

Everyone went with either “would not have agreed” or “would have disagreed.” This a fun reminder that you can structure even seemingly straightforward text more than one way. The difference is slight, but real, and which option is “better” depends on the rest of the sentence: is the goal fewer total words? Shorter words? Depending on the context, choosing something like “may have begged to differ,” could potentially be great.

…lui qui ne cessa de transgresser les deux grands ordres (jazz et classique)…

Here’s where things start to get messy. Ne cessa de became: ceaselessly, always, continued to, constantly, and continually. So many options to convey “something that never stops!” Transgresser is clearly a problem in English, as “to transgress” is much weightier than just mixing musical genres, not to mention the moral or religious overtones. DeepL fell right into this trap. Our human options here included “intermixed,” and “transcended.” My favorite solutions were “went outside the box,” which, while it could use a stronger verb than “went,” encompasses the notion of transgressing in a more palatable way, and my very favorite, “pushed the limits.” He didn’t necessarily break the boundaries, as a transgression might suggest, but he’s right up against it.

…en les reprisant et déprisant dans des concerts…

Oh no, wordplay in the source! The holy grail here would be to come up with something that has the same kind of parallelism or at least some kind of interplay as reprisant et déprisant. Options included: “combining and undoing them,” (accurate, if not a little clunky), “reappraising and transforming,” (yet clunkier, in my opinion). “Taking them apart and putting them back together”: we’re getting there, it’s literal but closer to the mark. “Deconstructing and reconstructing,” is almost there and is the best non-metaphorical option that was submitted; it checks both boxes, opposite words with a similar structure to match the source.

However, there was one superlative submission here that does all of the above but also leads into the next part of the sentence beautifully: “unraveling and reweaving them in concerts.” I swooned.

…qui filaient standards de jazz, classiques des classiques.

The swoon-worthy submission continues: “…that spun together jazz standards and classical classics.” This is why I love this option so much for the previous part. The translator saw filer in this section and put it to excellent use in the previous one, using a thread metaphor to describe how Gulda took apart and reassembled the musical components. The use of “spun” continues the metaphor perfectly.

Lastly, “classical classics,” submitted by two translators, is snappy and alliterative, and I don’t know what more you could ask.

Sentence breaks? What are those?

This mouthful of a French sentence reminds us that what is valued for style in French doesn’t always correspond to what we look for in English: French sentences can run on and on and on. And I actually chopped this sucker in half before issuing this challenge! Two of the translators used a period and broke it into two fully separate sentences; one person used a semicolon for the same purpose. One option that surprised me was to pull the initial verb (“might have disagreed”) all the way to the end, so it read something like “Friedrich Gulda, [description], who [did the things], may well have disagreed.” This, again, is a decision where context matters, and this option may or may not flow into what comes next in the text. But it certainly has the option to, and that’s awesome. Next time, I’ll provide more context so that we can better evaluate options like this one.

Putting it all together, this is a string combining my personal favorite individual translation solutions for this sentence:

Friedrich Gulda, the classical piano virtuoso who continually pushed the limits of two great genres (jazz and classical), unraveling and reweaving them in concerts that spun together jazz standards and classical classics, may well have disagreed.

You know what? I think that’s pretty good! That’s a well-crafted sentence. And, given the notable lack of preceding or following sentences, I can claim it is ideal for the context. So… whew! We made it! I hope that it was useful and informative to see how many options there are for even simple phrases, and what neat things you can achieve with even mundane words. Stay tuned for next month, where we’ll do it all again (with a more approachable sentence this time!).

Did you forget to submit a translation in time? Not to worry! Share your version on Twitter and tag the French Language Division (@ATA_FLD) and me, @SamTranslates.

If you would like to submit a sentence for a future slam, I would like that very much! You can contact me, Sam Mowry, directly at sam [at] translation.expert or on Twitter at the handle listed above. You can also contact the À Propos Editor Ben Karl at ben [at] bktranslation.com.

If you’d like to help launch a similar slam but into French, please also reach out!

Beat the Machine: A Mini Virtual Translation Slam by the ATA FLD

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Beat the Machine: A Mini Virtual Translation Slam by the ATA FLD

Greetings, fellow FLD members (and interested onlookers)!

My name is Sam Mowry and I’m here to help us all translate better. Strong words, I know, but one thing I’ve found to be true in my translation career is that the more exposure you have to translations, particularly good translations, the better translator you become. To that end, this is the first in what I hope will become an ongoing series of posts here in À Propos.

The premise is simple: I’ve never met a translator who, when confronted with someone else’s translation, doesn’t secretly or not-so-secretly think to themselves, “I could have done it better.” Moreover, as human translators, we know we’re vastly superior to every machine translation option on the market. We’re going to combine those concepts into a monthly “beat the machine” virtual translation slam (and by that I mean slamming those machine translations into the ground!).

Every two months, I will post a French sentence with an English translation produced by a widely available machine translation engine. This will incite the faithful readers of this blog to rise to the challenge and show how much better it could be by submitting their own versions of the translated sentence. The following month, I will publish a blog post where I share some of the best submissions and discuss what makes them so good. This is a chance to show what a difference the human touch makes and improve our own translation practices in the process by seeing how other translators approach the same problem.

Sound good?

The first sentence is:

L’excellentissime pianiste classique autrichien Friedrich Gulda n’eût peut-être pas été d’accord, lui qui ne cessa de transgresser les deux grands ordres (jazz et classique) en les reprisant et déprisant dans des concerts qui filaient standards de jazz, classiques des classiques.

Fun, right? Hat tip to FLD member Beth Smith, who provided this sentence. Here is what DeepL spat out:

Perhaps the excellent Austrian classical pianist Friedrich Gulda would not have agreed, as he never stopped transgressing the two great orders (jazz and classical) by reproducing them in concerts that spun jazz standards, classics from classics.

You are no doubt chomping at the bit already to submit your much better translation of this sentence. You can do that HERE.

Submissions must be received by July 22, 2020. The follow-up blog post discussing the best solutions will be posted on or around August 1, 2020.

Please note the following:

  • Only FLD members will have their translations posted on this blog. Membership is free for current ATA members, so if you aren’t a member yet, make sure to join before you submit your translation. When you log in to your account on the ATA website, the number of divisions you belong to is listed at the top of the page. Click “Modify” to change which divisions you belong to (and add the FLD!).
  • You are free to submit your sentence anonymously, but half the fun will be crediting the creative submissions we receive by name and recognizing their authors.
  • You may submit as many times as you like, in case you have a stroke of genius after your initial submission. I will only discuss one submission per person in the review post.

Finally, we’re hoping to continue this series with all of your help! Have you come across a particularly pesky sentence you can share for this project? Please send it along! Are you interested in helping us do the same virtual translation slam, but from English to French? We’d love to have one or more volunteers to do this series, but in reverse! If you’re interested, please contact Ben Karl, the À Propos editor, or myself, Sam Mowry, to let us know!

Happy translating!

Sam Mowry is an ATA-certified French into English translator specializing in international development, medicine, official documents, and being mouthy on the internet. She can be reached by email at sam@frenchtranslation.expert or directly on Twitter at @SamTranslates.

 

 

 

 

 

SAM at a Glance

A veteran SAMiste shares her experiences at the 2018 Medical English Seminar in Lyon—will you join her in 2020?

By Anne-Charlotte Giovangrandi

Photo Credit: Indelebile photographe
This article was originally published in Translorial, the journal of the Northern California Translators Association (vol. 41, no. 2, fall 2019) and is republished here with permission.

Short for Séminaire d’anglais médical, SAM is organized every other year in Lyon, France, by the Société française des traducteurs, the French sister association of the ATA. Presented as a medical English writing and terminology training course, SAM is geared toward translators working in French and English who specialize—or wish to specialize—in medicine. It attracts linguists from all over the world, most coming from France and the UK. This article reviews the 2018 conference, which was held over five days at the medical school of Université Claude Bernard Lyon 1. As registration for the 2020 conference will open early next year, now seems to be a good time to spread the word!

In March 2018, participants (nicknamed “SAMistes”) who were lucky enough to arrive in town a bit early attended a welcome cocktail party on Sunday night. Newcomers were given the chance to start getting to know other participants over a glass of wine and plates of local charcuterie and cheeses, while old friends from previous conferences greeted each other joyfully, happy to reconnect.

Lectures and terminology sessions

The conference format alternates medical lectures (presented in French or English by expert guest speakers) with related terminology sessions led by Nathalie Renevier, a renowned translator, translation instructor, and terminologist who has translated numerous health and medical publications. The 2018 conference presentations covered a wide range of subjects: acute medical care, developmental coordination disorder, type 2 diabetes, the MeSH thesaurus, schizophrenia, dermatology, PTSD, and European Medicines Agency templates. In 2016, the presentations were just as diverse, including sessions on Alzheimer’s disease, influenza viruses, statistical analysis for clinical trials, and three cancer-related presentations.

All attendees can benefit from the lectures, which are presented simply enough to appeal to newbies but nevertheless provide enough detailed information to satisfy the intellectual curiosity of seasoned members of the field. The terminology sessions, in which audience participation is encouraged, are invaluable for our community of linguists. The organizers facilitate the learning process by providing all presentations, including all the terms discussed during terminology sessions and many valuable references, shortly after the event. Personal medical glossaries no doubt expand tremendously by the end of the workshop!

Hands-on learning

The first afternoon of the week is always spent working hard: the SAMistes are split into small groups to translate a 350–500-word excerpt from a selection of medical texts. In 2018, possible passages featured subjects as varied as genetic mutations, lip physiopathology, bulimia, and schizophrenia. The texts are sent before the conference, and most of the participants read them in advance; some even manage to prepare a draft translation to use as a starting point. Working in groups is not common in our profession, so this exercise offers participants a rare opportunity to glimpse colleagues’ methods for tackling a translation task, share tips and favorite resources (both paper and online), and brainstorm the perfect term or idiomatic expression to produce the best collaborative target text.

Over the course of the week, each group presents their translation to all the participants, with one of the guest speakers or organizers answering questions and providing feedback.

The extras

SAM offers multiple opportunities to network, chat with colleagues, and have fun, whether during the coffee breaks, over lunch at one of the nearby restaurants, or while attending the specially organized gourmet dinner. In 2018, attendees also enjoyed a guided tour of the fascinating exhibit Venenum: A Poisonous World at the architecturally stunning Musée des Confluences (http://xl8.link/204).

Some fun to conclude the hard work

In what has now become a tradition, SAM concluded on Friday afternoon with two translation slams (one for each translation direction) between two translators brave enough to each present their own translation of the same satirical scientific article. If you want an idea of the type of humor, check out the Onion article chosen for the 2018 English-to-French slam (http://xl8.link/203).

Attendance has grown steadily over the years; 2018 saw 60 participants, including the organizers and the terminologist. Almost three fourths of them were returning SAMistes. No wonder, as the format is quite addictive, as are the culinary delicacies of the host city! As a mise en bouche, the full program for 2018 is available at http://xl8.link/206.

 

An English into French translator since 2010, Anne-Charlotte Giovangrandi moved to the San Francisco Bay Area from her native Switzerland almost 20 years ago. Holding a translation certificate from New York University and a master’s degree in psychology from the University of Lausanne, she has developed a double specialization, translating patient-facing medical documents and transcreating marketing/advertising content (high jewelry in particular), an area in which she can let her creativity run free.