[Transcript] ATA Continuing Education Series Podcast – Episode 20 – Interview with Edward Gauvin

ATA French Language Division Podcast
The FLD Podcast. Photo Credit: Unsplash

The A Propos Logo

To make our Continuing Education Series Podcast more accessible and searchable for FLD members and the general public, we are now offering transcriptions of our episodes right here on À Propos. Many thanks to our volunteer transcriptionists, who are credited at the bottom of each transcription. If you’re interested in helping us transcribe podcast episodes, email divisionFLD [at] atanet [dot] org.


SOUNDCLOUD: You can listen to or download Episode 20 and all previous episodes on Soundcloud here.

ITUNES: This episode and all previous episodes are available on iTunes here. You can subscribe or listen online. Like what you hear? Rate us and review us! It really helps get the word out.

Episode 20 — Interview with Edward Gauvin, FLD’s Distinguished Speaker at ATA63

Andie Ho: This is Andy Ho, host of the continuing education series, a podcast we produce as a benefit for the members of the French Language Division of the American Translators Association, and those interested in becoming members. This series strives to offer educational content about the craft of French to English and English to French translation, and about our division. In today’s episode, it is my pleasure to welcome Edward Gauvin, our special guest and distinguished speaker for #ATA63, the conference in Los Angeles this fall. Edward is a writer, translator, and independent scholar. His work has been shortlisted and nominated for a multitude of prizes, and he has received grants and fellowships from around the world. Most relevant to the FLD and ATA, he has contributed over 100 translations to various journals, anthologies and collections and translated over 400 graphic novels. He also publishes his own original fiction, some of which he has translated in French. Welcome, Edward! It’s a pleasure having you here today.

Edward Gauvin: Thank you so much. It’s a pleasure to be here, Andy, and I’m really looking forward to the October conference.

Andie Ho: So, you have a very wide-ranging career. Can you tell us how you got started and branched out into all those different fields?

Edward Gauvin: Well, I got my start as a translator in the mid-2000s. I had come back from teaching as a lecturer as a freshman and sophomore in college in France. And for some reason, I thought translation was something one could do. I don’t think I had a particularly timely notion of that. I think for some reason I was thinking that you could translate pulp novels and other things that don’t get published in the US. I’m not sure, I had those very outdated notions…

However, I was hanging around Comic Cons. And in the New York Comic Con, I believe it was in 2005 or 2006, the very first one, and there were smaller fairs as well… I was hanging around those and trying to interest editors and publishers in comics/graphic novels that I had liked in France. And so, none of those pitches ever worked. But I think I sort of just got my face in their face, so that was how I wound up with my first few jobs.

Around the same time, in 2005, Words Without Borders published my first short fiction translation by Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud. And I wound up working on his stories for the next couple of years, and then putting out my first full-length prose fiction translation in 2010, which is a volume of his selected stories. So, I think my career has pretty much proceeded along those twin tracks right from the beginning and ever since.

Andie Ho: Well, I had never heard of Words Without Borders and so I was looking into your background… Can you tell me more about what they do?

Edward Gauvin: So, when I first published with them in 2005, they’d only been around for two years, and … they were the first—and I would say now still the biggest—periodical that is devoted entirely to international literature in English translation. Now, the translation scene has changed so much and literary translation has become a lot hipper than it used to be. But Words Without Borders was into translation before translation was cool!

But seriously. They recently went through a major site revamp. So that’s been overhauled, and the look has been greatly streamlined. They’re still adding the archives in. But I think they’ve published from almost 150 countries, just as many languages. And I think… I’ve sort of watched from distance as their editorial priorities have shifted over time as well.

Among the founding members were a former editor for foreign literature from Northwestern, another from Norton [W.W. Norton & Co.] and another who worked with Zoetrope, the American fiction magazine. And one of their neatest programs, one of the coolest things that they sort of grew into over the years is something called WWB campus, or Words Without Borders Campus. It actively designs classroom modules and teaching aids for people who want to… It provides educator support and supplemental curricular resources, and it also tries to get even virtual events or in-person events where translators and authors can visit classrooms at any level from college and younger.

I think more recently, a lot of their claim to fame has been publishing as well, authors that have gone into major, major awards, like Elena Ferrante, or Han Kang, or Olga Tokarczuk. These are people who were first featured in their pages before they won Bookers and Nobels and things. So, I think it’s been a really big force for international literature in the US. I think the reason that they went online, they were a little ahead of the curve in that way, but also it has allowed them to keep overhead down in a way that print magazines aren’t able to. This is perhaps of the most interest to people who are looking to get into literary translation. Most of the time, the periodical scene is so small—if you’re talking about lib mags and university journals, etc.—that the onus of clearing rights is pushed onto the translator, which isn’t completely fair. When you’re actually publishing, it’s an editor agent’s job, or a foreign rights department’s job. But Words Without Borders has always taken that onto themselves. And right from the start, they have always paid the translator AND the author. And this isn’t something that a lot of periodicals, even now, can claim.

Andie Ho: Wow, alright! You’re talking about Elena Ferrante and Olga (I don’t know how to say her last name), but we can also go back to, say, Steve Larsen. So, the number that gets quoted a lot is 3%, right, that only 3% of literature gets translated into English. I forget what exactly it is. Do you think that has changed in recent years?

Edward Gauvin: OK, just to clarify… It’s not 3% of the world’s literature that gets translated into English. It’s that of the books published yearly in English every year, only 3% are devoted to translated literature. I am not plugged into BookScan enough to tell you what it is now and Chad Post has started his Three Percent blog post out of Rochester in 2008 or 2009. I will tell you that my sense is that it has fluctuated and it has grown and remains on the side of growth, but that I would be surprised if it has doubled. I would say that it stayed somewhere between three and six—and that’s a completely off-the-cuff thing—if it had doubled, I would be surprised if it had doubled and stayed there for more than a year. Because, as I have mentioned, there are a lot of fluctuations.

And I would say, for me there are a couple different parts to that. Yes, the literary translation scene has massively diversified in terms of the numbers of publishers. But these are mostly small presses, not even imprints of large presses. That’s how art moves forward, really, historically. But I think that there has been a shift in the kinds of things we look to foreign literature for, and there’s still a raging debate as to whether it actually sells. And there are always going to be exceptions that sell extremely well, but then become unfortunately sort of synecdochic of the entire phenomenon, which doesn’t sell as well.

I think I’ve wandered off a little bit at the end, but there’s definitely not progress in the numbers. Far greater than progress in actual numbers is greater cultural awareness. I think that has risen in a way that’s faster than the economic side of things.

Andie Ho: So, in recent years, there’s been a lot of interest in foreign media, with K-pop, Parasite and other Korean movies… I think just a lot more interest in Lupin, the TV series on Netflix… Do you think that there is, in general, some sort of expansion of interest into foreign media that will, in a sense, like “rising tides lift all boats,” that will affect translation of books, or not so much?

Edward Gauvin: I think for me there’s a couple issues all knotted up in there, so please catch me out if I start to prattle on. One is that interest in translated books does not necessarily equate to better pay or living conditions for translators. And so, I think the same thing applies here. The interest in foreign media also may not directly improve the translators’ or subtitlers’ lot. And I think that’s because … people have a very dated idea of what translation is, does, or should do, or can get away with, or the degree to which it can transform something. That’s something that I think about a lot.

I think the other difference is just [that] books are such a small part financially of media as a whole that foreign media becoming more popular or not… Things operate differently at different scales of how much money is involved. I guess this is what I’m trying to get around to. So, for instance, the recent Brad Pit’s Bullet Train is based on a Japanese novel that I remember reading articles about when the Japanese novel was first snatched up (it was probably in Hollywood Reporter or something) by Pitt’s production company. There hasn’t actually been a whole lot of discourse concerning Bullet Train about how the entire cast is now while, pretty much, and that’s fine. That’s one issue. But the other issue I remember reading in Hollywood Reporter, when the novel was first snatched up, [is] that the novel was one of the properties that a newly founded firm in Japan had shopped around, and this firm was dedicated toward getting more Japanese properties sold abroad. Whether it be for remakes or adaptations or anything, they just wanted to push it… And I don’t think of Japan as a country that is massively underrepresented in terms of international media presence. And yet, when you hear the founders of the company speak, they were talking of untold troves of material in Japan that they were sure would interest other people, but not enough people read Japanese to access it. It just wasn’t known. And so, I wonder to some extent how many places feel like that. If Japan, which I think of as having a major media presence already, feels like that, then, how much are other places going to feel like that?

My third sort of related point is that I actually find the subtitling scene really, really, really interesting for its crossover with literary translation and mostly from an underrepresentation of labor point of view. Subtitles have been popping up more and more into the news lately. And every time it does, it really just perks up my ears, because one of my ongoing thoughts of experiments is to see how many other disciplines under some disciplines have some kind of labor or historical or metaphorical overlap with translation. The most recent subtitling story I remember seeing was about Stranger Things, and how the subtitles are really kind of “juicy” and reach for the not obvious adjectives and how that enhanced the experience. And that’s all fascinating to me. How can that happen in translation? The other one, of course, was with the Korean property… I’m going to blank on the name now, the one with the game show where they kill people…

Andie Ho: Squid Game?

Edward Gauvin: Yes, thank you. Well, I did see it and there was a little brouhaha… There was a New York-based Korean American writer who was tweeting about how the subtitles were off, and how there actually turned out to be two sets of subtitles: one for the closed captioning, and one that actually looks more sort of human translated. But I remember one of the things that this person said was, “If you watch the show with this set of subtitles, you’re not getting the same show.” And like, this was sort of the foundation of some kind of notion of betrayal, right? And this is something that I think translators might be working to push, if not entirely overthrow, because for me that’s a given. That’s kind of like “Duh!” That’s where literary translators start right now. Yes, of course, it’s not the same. You shouldn’t think of them as the same. You shouldn’t think that you’re able to get the same out of this transaction. That’s just my bringing it around to translators versus translation again.

Andie Ho: You bring up some really good points about the devaluation, I think, of translators. Do you have the same problem in literary translation, that there is a sense that anybody who speaks a second language can translate it? Is that prevalent in publishing?

Edward Gauvin: I do think a lot of translators—because I’ve heard variations on this—think of editors as having a tin ear, or that editors do think of translators as interchangeable. Or that editors are kind of like this tone-deaf conductor that the translator has to teach how to… Or rather, if the translator’s a conductor, that as a conductor, we have to educate the editor in how to appreciate the difference between one conductor and another.

It’s hard for me to assess literary translations, the attitude of literary translators as a whole. I don’t feel that connected with the scene anymore, and… What I’m judging it on these days is based on things I read, and things I read can be all over the map. Like, sometimes translators will say things that sound the same as what translators said 60 years ago, and other times translators will have fairly progressive views, deeply informed by translation studies or comparative literature or some background in academic theory, so it’s really hard for me to say as a whole what the community thinks. I do think that by and large, it’s moved beyond the issues of authorial fidelity, which is not something the world has moved out from. Because, you know, translators will say one thing at a convention, and then when one of them gets profiled in the New York Times, what emerges in the article at the end of whatever process goes on is pretty tame compared to what goes on at say, a convention or a conference or a round table.

Andie Ho: [Laughter] So, for the real deal, you have to go to a translation conference and see what translators are talking about.

Edward Gauvin: Yes, well, the literature is out there, you know. Do some digging. But even in, like, a literary translation Facebook group, especially if you are getting people who are translating out of English… I would say that how translators feel about what it is they should or shouldn’t do runs a pretty broad gamut. I should also contextualize almost everything I’m saying as coming out of specifically an into-English scene.

Andie Ho: Yeah, which… I don’t want to presuppose anything. Do you feel like the into-English scene translations are sort of watered down a bit, or not watered down … made more palatable for local audiences?

Edward Gauvin: Yeah, well, that actually is the crux of Lawrence Venuti’s original Translator’s Invisibility diatribe, right? I mean, he wasn’t blaming the translators in that case, he was blaming the publishing industry as a whole. But I think the translator’s invisibility as a phrase has kind of gotten dislocated from his originally coinage and is sort of just generally used to apply to… It applies probably more often to lack of cultural capital or lack of actual economical capital. But originally, his argument was rooted in a fairly specific reading of how certain marks of foreignness would get ironed out into a more standardized English. I don’t honestly have the time to read widely enough to assess that right now. I don’t know. Yeah, honestly, I can’t.

I also do think that the old binary that sets up, right, because that’s the other bastardization of Venuti’s idea, is that, “Oh, it’s either about foreignization or about domesticization, and if we’re going to foreignize things, we’re going to leave weird turns of phrase and foreign things in there,” and that’s definitely not what you’re saying. But that’s an easy straw man to attack him, but also to attack schools of translation. A lot of translators also use it. They say, “I don’t foreignize. I’ve never foreignized. Foreignizing is stupid.” But it’s only stupid if you define it very narrowly like that. I do think that binary is maybe also something that needs to be gotten out of…

Maybe this will segue back to comics. For me, with comics, someone asked me that at an event that I did in Pittsburgh at the City of Asylum… and I really fumbled the answer because it was at the end of the night. But… I do think that issues of reception in general have been neglected in translation. Which is to say that in translation, you’re talking about how it’s usually, “Are you close to the author?” or “Are you close to the original language?” or something like that. But are you making something for a specific readership in the US, and what does that entail? And in that case, this is something that comics speaks to very much, right? If I do a French Western, they’re never going to have a “howdy” in. But I’m going to put a howdy in the English version. There’s a way “Westerns” sound. There is a way “noir” sounds. And also, there is a way “noir” sounds, in fact, that is informed both by American pulp writers and French new wave directors who loved American pulp writers, and then American pulp writers who loved French new wave movies. There’s already a dialogue going. There is no purity. So, when I talk about audience reception and expectations deservedly going into the translation, it’s not just the author speaking through you, it’s not the language speaking through you, it’s also the genre speaking through you, the affectations speaking through you and informing your work.

Andie Ho: Fair enough! I don’t want to spoil too much of your sessions, so I’m going to cut you off here. But is there anything else you would like to say for our audiences?

Edward Gauvin: Yeah, I think one of the original questions was just about some practical advice on trying to break into translating comics. This is a question I get a lot from literary translators. People should just remember that comics is still an artist’s medium and not a writer’s, such that if you’re pitching a comic, I think you should be aware that it will be bought primarily on art and perhaps before even stories. Art is going to edge out subject matter, even. So, yeah, I think that’s something people don’t think of, especially as translators, since they’re focused on the words.

Andie Ho: Well, thank you very much for your time today, Edward. I can’t wait to meet you in person in LA.

Edward Gauvin: Yeah, I’m looking forward to it! I hope [the] BA.5 [subvariant] allows it nevertheless to be a safer event for all concerned.

Andie Ho: All fingers, toes, limbs, everything crossed. For sure. Alright, well, thank you very much!

This concludes our episode for today. You can subscribe to the continuing education series podcast on SoundCloud at soundcloud.com/ATA/FLD or on iTunes by searching for “continuing education series” in the iTunes store. You can contact the FLD at divisionfld [at] atanet [dot] org, visit our website at ata-divisions.org/FLD or get in touch with us on social media. This is handy Andy Ho, signing off. Thanks for listening and à bientôt!

Edward Gauvin is a 2021 Guggenheim fellow and award-winning translator. He has received grants and residencies from the National Endowment for the Arts, PEN America, the Fulbright program, Ledig House, the Lannan Foundation, the Banff Centre, and the French and Belgian governments. His work has appeared in The New York Times, Harper’s, The Guardian, and World Literature Today. As a translation advocate, he has written widely, spoken at universities and festivals, and taught at the Bread Loaf Translation Conference. The translator of over 400 graphic novels, he is a contributing editor for comics at Words Without Borders.

ATA Podcast host Andie Ho is a certified French to English translator specializing in the food industry. She earned her M.A. in translation from Kent State University and is now based in the Houston area. She currently serves as the ATA’s French Language Division administrator. You can follow her on Twitter at @JHawkTranslator or email her at andie [at] andiehotranslations [dot] com.

Transcribed by Isabelle Berquin, PhD, CT. She is an ATA-certified English <> French freelance translator specializing in the life sciences and medicine. A native speaker of French from Belgium, she has a BS in biology and a PhD in cancer biology. Her favorite translation projects are those that allow her to leverage her 20-year experience in biomedical research. She has been living in the USA since 1990. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, going on nature walks, gardening, painting, printmaking, cooking and singing. Find her online here.

[Transcript] ATA Continuing Education Series Podcast – Episode 16 – State of the FLD June 2020

Close-up of a microphone against a purple background
ATA FLD Podcast. Photo Credit: Unsplash

The A Propos Logo

To make our Continuing Education Series Podcast more accessible and searchable for FLD members and the general public, we are now offering transcriptions of our episodes right here on À Propos. Many thanks to our volunteer transcriptionists, who are credited at the bottom of each transcription. If you’re interested in helping us transcribe podcast episodes, email divisionFLD [at] atanet [dot] org.


SOUNDCLOUD: You can listen to or download Episode 16 and all previous episodes on Soundcloud here.

ITUNES: This episode and all previous episodes are available on iTunes here. You can subscribe or listen online. Like what you hear? Rate us and review us! It really helps get the word out.

Episode 16: State of the FLD June 2020

Cathy-Eitel Nzume: Hello and welcome. This is Cathy-Eitel Nzume, host of the Continuing Education Series, a podcast we produce as a benefit for the members of the French Language Division of the American Translators Association. This series tries to offer educational content about the craft of French to English and English to French translation and, of course, about our division.

For today’s episode, it is my pleasure to welcome our wonderful administrator, Jenn Mercer, and Andie Ho, our dedicated assistant administrator, for our state of the French Language Division session.

Jenn Mercer: Thanks for having us.

Andie Ho: Thank you for having us.

Cathy-Eitel Nzume: You’re welcome! We have so many things to talk about today, I’m not sure where to start. Jenn, would you like to start off by telling our members about the highlights of the year?

Jenn Mercer: This is not a year that is bursting with highlights, but one big change that I think everyone has heard is that we have a new podcast host. Thanks, Cathy-Eitel; welcome to the team. Otherwise, I think we have all been adjusting to the new normal in many cases. Some of us have less work, some of us are maybe doing a different variety of work. Interpreters are being forced to adjust to either a lot of remote work or going onto the front lines with healthcare workers. Hats off to all of them!

Cathy-Eitel Nzume: Jenn, I recently joined the Discord platform. Can you tell us about FLD’s online presence, social media, websites, and new platforms, such as Discord? As a reminder, this is all managed by the volunteers of our Leadership Council. Can you tell us what the Council has been up to, or can you tell us what are the rules and the purpose of the new platforms? I know these are a lot of questions at the same time, but could you please tell us a little bit about our online presence?

Andie Ho: I’m going to jump in here and talk about our website, and that is at www.ata-divisions.org/FLD/. There you will find information about the Leadership Council, upcoming events, and our blog/newsletter, which is being run by Ben Karl; he is doing a great job at that. We have our Twitter account, which is @ATA_FLD. We have our Facebook group, which is ATA French Language Division. That one you have to be an FLD member for, so if you just click to join the group, you will be let into it once it is confirmed that you are a member. We have our LinkedIn page, and that one is called French Language Division of the American Translators Association. And then we have our listserv, our email list, which has moved. It is now under Groups.io, instead of the Yahoo group that we used to be under. If you are not subscribed, and you would like to subscribe, contact me or Jenn, at divisionfld [at] atanet [dot] org and we will get you all set up.

Jenn has news about our new social media options.

Jenn Mercer: This is a very isolating time because of the coronavirus. Myself, I work in an office all alone, what would be different? But somehow it still is. Because of that isolation and because it sounded like fun, we started a monthly zoom meeting. We have established a regular schedule now; it’s going to be on the second Thursday of each month. It’s hosted by Eve Bodeux, who is our former French Language Division administrator. You can find information for that on the FLD mailing list, the listserv we mentioned before. It is on Facebook, and you can also find it on our new Discord server. The Zoom meeting is once a month, but Discord is available anytime you feel like chatting. If you are familiar with Slack, Discord is a lot like that, but it is just a smaller, simpler server. You can get an invite link for that in the monthly announcements for our social networking, or, again, you can email divisionfld [at] atanet [dot] org and we will get you connected. Both this and the Zoom sessions are FLD member benefits, so just for us. There are rules posted in the Discord chat, but if you are familiar at all with FLD and the ATA, you probably know a lot of these already: be respectful, be professional, and never, ever discuss specific rates in any form.

Cathy-Eitel Nzume: Thank you so much, Jenn. Andie, sadly we are all aware of what is going on around the world right now, namely, the world is facing the challenging COVID-19 virus. Have you been keeping busy during the quarantine?

Andie Ho: Keeping busy hasn’t been the problem, the issue for me has been staying sane! A friend of mine put it really well yesterday. He said, “no matter what your situation is at home, there is some aspect of your life that makes quarantine and the pandemic especially hard for you.” Whether you have kids or you don’t have kids, you are living with someone or you don’t live with someone, somehow you have some sort of exacerbating circumstance. Personally, to be completely honest, I spent March in denial about Covid, and then I spent April hyperventilating. Like many, though not all, translators, and especially interpreters, my business is at an all-time low. But now that I have had some time to collect myself and my thoughts, I have reached the acceptance phase, as I call it, of this crisis. Now I am focusing on improving my business, whether that is through continuing education and webinars, or redesigning my website. I am also thinking about the future, about what things I can do now so that I can pull the trigger on them once the economy comes back and once things become somewhat normal again. I’m not going to lie, the pandemic has been pretty hard on me; but I am an optimist by nature—I continue to hold out hope that we will come out of this better than before. That said, I would be remiss not to mention that we have FLD members and ATA members who have been personally hit by COVID-19, or who have had family members come down with it, and even die from it. I am confident that I speak for everyone when I say that our hearts go to those colleagues of ours. Stay strong, stay healthy everybody.

Cathy-Eitel Nzume: Absolutely, thank you. Our hearts go out to all of the people who have been affected by this disease. Jenn, I have heard from many fellow translators that the corona crisis has also had a big impact on their workload. I know I share the same issue. Can you tell us how it has been for you, how you think it will affect the ATA convention in Boston—any word on that? Do you have any suggestions for our fellow colleagues?

Jenn Mercer: My situation, Andy said it really well. She mentioned she is in the acceptance phase. I started off in the denial phase. I said, lockdown, seriously, how is that different from my normal life? I work from home already…. Until I realized that no one was contacting me. No. One. So, I have absolutely seen a decline. I have started to see some tiny signs of life in different corners than I usually work, but I’m not complaining. I think none of us can really say for sure what things will be like in October. Personally, I have not made plans, I am just waiting to see what happens. I have a couple of quotes from a recent ATA board meeting. I don’t speak for ATA, but these are some things to keep in mind. This is from the treasurer:

Our initial estimates of potential losses for the Boston conference indicate that cancelling at this time would result in the greatest loss; holding an in-person event would result in a smaller loss, and holding a hybrid event would result in the smallest loss. At this time, we assume we will have a loss for all 2020 models.

I think we all feel that deeply. Also:

Although the situation is changing really fast, it has been determined that there will be an online component for the 2020 annual conference.

That is information I have. I think we can all understand that is only some information. As admin, I saw a lot of exciting ideas for the French track coming through. I’m actually starting to hear from people who have received acceptances. It sounds great. I just don’t know what form it will take. Also, of course, we all need to be concerned about our own health and risk factors, as well as, some of us, our finances might not be as robust, and you always have to take a look at your own situation, and your own health, in anything, I think.

Cathy-Eitel Nzume: Thank you. As a reminder of what we have accomplished so far, the Continuing Education Series aired fantastic episodes about legal translation, sustainable development, genealogy, and even a translation slam. As for the upcoming ATA annual conference, we are accepting suggestions from all members and non-members who would like to share their knowledge with the division and other colleagues during the conference. Don’t be scared! No public speaking experience is necessary. If you are interested, please email us at divisionfld [at] atanet [dot] org. We are interested in all topics, all subjects. Speaking of topics, we have one English to French topic about poorly written source content that needs a guest speaker. If you are interested in discussing terrible source content, or anything else, please get in touch.

Thank you, Jenn. Andie, thank you so much for joining me today. Have a great summer and, hopefully, see you soon in Boston.

Jenn Mercer: Thanks.

Andie Ho: Hope to see you there!

Cathy-Eitel Nzume: This concludes our episode for today. You can subscribe to the Continuing Education Series podcasts on SoundCloud at soundcloud.com/ata-fld or on iTunes by searching for Continuing Education Series in the iTunes store. You can contact the FLD at divisionfld [at] atanet [dot] org. Visit our website at www.ata-divisions.org/fld or get in touch with us on social media. This is Cathy-Eitel Nzume signing off. Thanks for listening, et à bientôt.

ATA Podcast host Cathy-Eitel Nzume is a certified French to English and English to French Court Interpreter, translator, Department of State Certified Linguist and legal professional. She specializes in legal and conference interpreting as well as legal and financial translation. You can find her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cathyeitelnzume/ or on Twitter at @CathyENzume.

Andie Ho is a certified French to English translator specializing in the food industry. She earned her M.A. in translation from Kent State University and is now based in the Houston area. She currently serves as the ATA’s French Language Division administrator. You can follow her on Twitter at @JHawkTranslator or email her at andie [at] andiehotranslations [dot] com.

Jenn Mercer is a certified French to English translator.

Transcribed by Virginia (Ginny) Layton-Leal. She is a French and Spanish to English translator specialized in wellness and evidence-based complimentary medicine, and a French and Spanish medical interpreter with experience in medical examiner and medical weight loss interpreting. She holds a Certificate in Professional Translation and Interpreting (Spanish) from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a BA in Romance Languages (French/Spanish) from Mount Holyoke College. She is a member of ATA and NETA. When Ginny is not working with words, you will find her at an East Coast swing dance.

[Transcript] ATA Continuing Education Series Podcast – Episode 17 – State of the FLD November 2020

ATA French Language Division Podcast
The FLD Podcast. Photo Credit: Unsplash

The A Propos Logo

To make our Continuing Education Series Podcast more accessible and searchable for FLD members and the general public, we are now offering transcriptions of our episodes right here on À Propos. Many thanks to our volunteer transcriptionists, who are credited at the bottom of each transcription. If you’re interested in helping us transcribe podcast episodes, email divisionFLD [at] atanet [dot] org.


SOUNDCLOUD: You can listen to or download Episode 17 and all previous episodes on Soundcloud here.

ITUNES: This episode and all previous episodes are available on iTunes here. You can subscribe or listen online. Like what you hear? Rate us and review us! It really helps get the word out.

Episode 17: State of the FLD November 2020

Cathy-Eitel: Bonjour ! Bienvenue chez l’éditeur. This is Cathy-Eitel Nzume, host of the Continuing Education Series, a podcast we produce as a benefit for members of the French Language Division of the American Translators Association and those interested in becoming members. This series tries to offer educational content about the craft of French-to-English and English-to-French translation, interpretation, and about our division.

For today’s episode, it is my pleasure to welcome Andie Ho, our newly installed administrator, for our State of the FLD Session. Some of you may be familiar with Andie, as she previously served as FLD Assistant Administrator.

Andie Ho: Hi, Cathy-Eitel. Hello FLD listeners. It’s nice to be on the podcast again. Thank you for the wonderful welcome. I am honored to be the FLD’s new administrator. I’ll be working together with our new assistant administrator, Beth Smith, who many of you already know from being around, and, working together, we’ll attempt to fill the giant shoes that Jen Mercer left behind for us.

Cathy-Eitel: Congratulations, again, Andie! Could you tell us a little bit about you, and what can we expect from the FLD for the upcoming year?

Andie Ho: Well, even though we just had the Annual Conference, we are already working next year’s conference, looking for a distinguished speaker for the FLD. We have to complete the paperwork pretty soon, in January, I believe, so it’s really important that we start looking for somebody now, so if anybody has ideas or suggestions for our distinguished speaker, please let us know. In other news, we hope to kick off the certification exam study group sometime next year since it looks like the ATA exams are going to resume soon. Our current plan is for people to do practice translations at home, and then pair up with a partner and give each other feedback. We will be starting a new round each month, with a new package to translate each month and a new partner to work with, so people can jump on the train any time and join the group, and the practice exams will be available in both language directions, English to French and French to English.

Cathy-Eitel: Thank you, Andie. Now let’s dive into another important topic. So, the 2020 ATA Annual Conference. The Conference was certainly different this year. It went virtual! Nevertheless, I personally think it was a success. Thanks to the organizers, everything went so smoothly, and attendees were still able to learn, network, and have fun. Could you share your thoughts on the 2020 ATA Conference?

Andie Ho: I thought the conference was a wild success, given everything that had to happen to pivot into an online event, turn it suddenly into an online event. I know lots of people were worried that there wouldn’t be opportunities to socialize and network with other people, but the organizers did a fantastic job of making sure we still had opportunities for that. The speakers did a great job, and I definitely want to congratulate the FLD speakers that represented us and made us proud of them. The conference organizers, I know, are actively seeking feedback right now on the conference because, apparently, they expect to have a hybrid version of the conference next year. So, if any of you who attended have opinions, either positive or negative, please email the ATA board, the officers, and let them know what you think.

Cathy-Eitel: Oh, wow. I didn’t know that. A hybrid version will be awesome, but do you have any recommendations for the next conference? What about advice for fellow translators and interpreters as to how to proceed now that the conference is over?

Andie Ho: Well, whether the conference is in-person or online, what you want to do afterwards is make sure you follow up, follow through with the things that you learned in the sessions and follow up with the people you met. Make time to try out the new software you heard about. Check out the new resource you heard about. Reach out and stay in touch with the people that you met. You can do like I have done, which is set yourself a reminder each week or every so often to email the people that you met, say, three months from now, see how they’re doing, or you can work together to brainstorm new business ideas that you came up with at the conference. These are all really important things, because the conference works best if you do something with the information that you got out of it, otherwise, you know, you’re not really getting the full benefit.

Cathy-Eitel: Okay, well, last time we spoke, Covid-19 was sort of at its peak. We are not out of the woods yet, and it’s difficult to meet in person; therefore, I think it is important to find a way to connect virtually. Andie, please, would you remind our fellow FLD members of the various ways to stay in touch or find out about FLD events?

Andie Ho: Oh, wow. FLD has more ways than ever to stay in touch. We are on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and have been for a long time, of course. Also, we still have the website. We have a newsletter and email discussion list, and, of course, this podcast, and we are now on Discord, which is another kind of messaging forum where people can chat. You should have, if you are an FLD member, you should have received an email recently, just last week I believe, detailing all of these different ways to stay in touch, with links, you can find us. And, new and improved, we’ve also started doing monthly Zoom meetups so that people can talk about their challengers or just enjoy each other’s company since we can’t see each other in person right now, but make sure you subscribe to at least one of the communications channels I mentioned so that you hear about the monthly Zoom meetings and get the announcements. We only post the actual link in the closed forum, for instance, listserv or the Facebook group, and that’s to make sure that our meetings don’t get hacked. Unfortunately, that is a thing that happens in this world, but, also, [laughter], yeah. You can also always just reach out to us to get the link. The main thing is that you need to subscribe to at least one method of communication, just so you get the announcements, the dates and times for the monthly Zoom meetups.

Cathy-Eitel: Thank you so much, Andie, for all the reminders. Now, your continuing education series is fantastic episodes about legal translations, sustainable development, genealogy, and even a translation slam. And for the future episodes, we are accepting suggestions from all members and nonmembers who would like to share their knowledge with the division and other colleagues. No public speaking experience necessary. If you are interested, please email us at divisionfld [at] atanet [dot] org. We’re interested in all topics and subjects. Speaking of topics, we have one English-to-French topic about poorly written source content and need a guest speaker. If you’re interested in discussing terrible source content, or anything else, please get in touch.

Andie Ho: Yeah, and I’d like to add to that that the FLD is run by volunteers, so anyone can step up and contribute at any time no matter in how small a way, otherwise, Cathy-Eitel, you and I have to do everything by ourselves.

Cathy-Eitel: Well, Andie, thank you so much for joining me today. Have a great Thanksgiving.

Andie Ho: Thank you Cathy-Eitel. Thank you for having me.

Cathy-Eitel: Thank you. Bye-bye.

Cathy-Eitel Nzume is a certified French to English and English to French Court Interpreter, translator, Department of State Certified Linguist and legal professional. She specializes in legal and conference interpreting as well as legal and financial translation. You can find her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cathyeitelnzume/ or on Twitter at @CathyENzume.

Andie Ho is a certified French to English translator specializing in the food industry. She earned her M.A. in translation from Kent State University and is now based in the Houston area. She currently serves as the ATA’s French Language Division administrator. You can follow her on Twitter at @JHawkTranslator or email her at andie [at] andiehotranslations [dot] com.

Transcribed by Joan Wallace. She has been a full-time freelance translator for nearly 30 years. She holds ATA certification from French to English and Spanish to English, and also translates from Thai to English. She works primarily in medical and pharmaceutical translation, although she occasionally wanders further afield, including an ongoing collaboration with a historian involving
French-English translation of 19th-century handwritten documents. She is based in Madison, Wisconsin. You can connect with her on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/joanwallace.

FLD Continuing Education Series – Episode 19 – ATA Certification Study Group

ATA French Language Division Podcast
The FLD Podcast – Photo Credit: Unsplash

Welcome to the 19th episode of the French Language Division’s Continuing Education Series. In this episode, podcast host Andie Ho and certified FLD member Emily Moorlach talk about Emily’s experience participating in the FLD’s ATA certification exam study group and her experience taking the online certification exam.

Emily also recently wrote about her experience for the Savvy Newcomer. Check out her post, Taking and Preparing for ATA’s Online Certification Exam.

Did you know the FLD has two study groups, one for French to English and one for English to French, to help its members ace the certification exam? If certification is one of your professional goals, you could participate. These groups are a free benefit for FLD members.

Emily Moorlach is an ATA-certified French to English translator who began her career in 2016 as the Translation and Interpretation Program Manager and freelance official document translator for a non-profit organization. In 2019, after a whirlwind trip through 45 cities in Europe, Emily returned to the U.S. to start her freelance translation business, Langue Vivante LLC. She holds a B.A. in French and a B.S. in Accounting from Iowa State University. Emily also studied at La Sorbonne in Paris and has held positions as a high school French teacher and luxury travel advisor. Her main specializations include official documents, corporate communications, and tourism industry materials. For more information, visit www.langue-vivante.com.

ATA Podcast host Andie Ho is a certified French to English translator specializing in the food industry. She earned her M.A. in translation from Kent State University and is now based in the Houston area. She currently serves as the ATA’s French Language Division administrator. You can follow her on Twitter at @JHawkTranslator or email her at andie@andiehotranslations.com.


SOUNDCLOUD: You can listen to or download Episode 19 and all previous episodes on Soundcloud here.

ITUNES: This episode and all previous episodes are available on iTunes here. You can subscribe or listen online. Like what you hear? Rate us and review us! It really helps get the word out.

La jurilinguistique dans tous ses états (Tome I)

A wooden gavel on a white surface
Photo : Unsplash

The A Propos Logo

Par Thomas L. West III

Frédéric Houbert, bien connu des traducteurs juridiques pour ses ouvrages de référence incontournables, tels le Dictionnaire de terminologie juridique anglais-français, dont la deuxième édition est parue en 2020, montre sa belle plume dans sa nouvelle œuvre La jurilinguistique dans tous ses états (Tome I). L’auteur met en évidence sa profonde connaissance du langage du droit en nous offrant un journal dans lequel il raconte ses expériences, ses lectures et ses observations en tant que traducteur, lexicographe et passionné de la jurilinguistique. Quatre thèmes lui servent de fil conducteur tout au long du livre : le langage du droit dans la littérature, les termes juridiques anciens, la traduction juridique et les dictionnaires. Dans un premier temps, il passe en revue les congrès de traduction auxquels il a participé un peu partout dans le monde, que ce soit en tant qu’intervenant ou simple participant. Dans le cadre de ces colloques, il a fait la connaissance des grands ténors qui ont fait la jurilinguistique, tels Jean-Claude Gémar, Susan Sarcevic, Louis Beaudoin et Larry Solan et nous rappelle les contributions de chacun. Ensuite, il nous fait (re)découvrir les références au monde du Droit et aux gens de robe chez les auteurs classiques français, de La Fontaine à Maupassant, en passant par Racine, Molière et Balzac. C’est chez un autre de ces grands écrivains, Montesquieu, qu’il découvre les origines du « langage clair », qui continue de faire couler beaucoup d’encre au XXIe siècle. Et il ne s’agit pas là de la seule mention de thèmes d’actualité. En effet, un billet de six pages est consacré à la modernisation du Code civil.

Dans d’autres chapitres, Frédéric Houbert passe en revue des livres (tels Le Droit n’est pas si vil et The Party of the First Part) sur le langage juridique qui ont vocation à faire sourire leurs lecteurs. En plus, il consacre quelque 16 pages aux termes juridiques ô combien drôles employés à Jersey, qui m’ont bien fait rire. Mais les autres pays au système juridique « mixte » ne sont pas négligés pour autant. Par exemple, l’auteur évoque les particularités du langage du Droit en Inde, au Maroc et à l’île Maurice. Et pour les inconditionnels de la culture populaire américaine, Houbert ménage une surprise : il raconte le rôle qu’ont joué les paroles des chansons de Bruce Springsteen dans les arrêts de la Cour suprême des États-Unis.

Frédéric Houbert tire de l’oubli des dictionnaires anciens qui n’ont pas perdu leur intérêt pour les passionnés du langage du Droit. Parmi ceux-ci on peut citer le Dictionnaire de droit et de pratique de Ferrière (1734) et le Dictionnaire de droit de Delbreil (1852). Il évoque aussi des dictionnaires modernes, allant de ceux qui sont connus de tous, comme le fameux Black’s, au Dictionnaire des expressions juridiques, qui n’est pas aussi célèbre parmi les traducteurs mais mérite sans doute de l’être.

Même si le livre que voici s’adresse de prime abord aux francophones natifs, les traducteurs du français vers la langue de Shakespeare y trouveront leur compte. En effet, l’auteur explique avec soin des expressions de date récente dont la traduction n’est peut-être pas encore connue des traducteurs vers l’anglais, telles « témoin assisté » et « question prioritaire de constitutionnalité », et revient sur les termes archaïques que l’on peut encore rencontrer dans les arrêts des cours françaises et qui peuvent être difficiles à traduire, surtout pour les anglophones. Les régionalismes juridiques risquent, eux aussi, d’être une source de confusion pour le traducteur accoutumé à traduire des documents franco-français. Là encore, l’auteur vient en aide en consacrant quelque sept pages aux belgicismes juridiques.

Dans sa préface, Frédéric Houbert nous promet que ce premier tome sera suivi d’un tome II. Les traducteurs, les lexicographes, les jurilinguistes et les amoureux de la langue française et de son histoire auront hâte de lire la suite, sachant qu’un vrai délice les attend.

Après avoir obtenu son diplôme de Juris Doctor à l’Université de Virginie en 1990, Thomas West a exercé comme avocat dans un grand cabinet d’Atlanta pendant cinq ans avant de devenir jurilinguiste. Il a plus de 25 ans d’expérience dans la traduction juridique et a donné des conférences sur ce sujet en Europe, en Amérique latine, en Afrique du Sud et aux États-Unis. De 2001 à 2003, il a été président de l’American Translators Association (ATA). Il est l’auteur de plusieurs dictionnaires juridiques bilingues, dont le Spanish-English Dictionary of Law and Business et le Swiss Law Dictionary (French-German-English), et a donné un cours de traduction juridique anglais-français/français-anglais à l’université Montclair State dans le premier semestre de 2021. En plus de sa langue maternelle et du français, Thomas West parle l’espagnol, l’allemand, le néerlandais, le suédois, le russe et l’afrikaans.

FLD Continuing Education Series – Episode 18 – ATA Certification

ATA French Language Division Podcast
The FLD Podcast – Photo Credit: Unsplash

Welcome to the 18th episode of the French Language Division’s Continuing Education Series. In today’s episode, podcast host Cathy-Eitel Nzume and certified FLD members Matt Bunczk and Beth Smith share their experiences taking the ATA certification exam.

Matthew Bunczk is an ATA-certified German-to-English and ATA-certified French-to-English translator specializing in business, legal, and financial translations. He is based near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in French from Ursinus College and a Certificate of Proficiency in Paralegal Studies from Delaware County Community College. His undergraduate studies brought him to Strasbourg, France, various parts of Europe, and Senegal, West Africa. After providing translations to employers on an ad hoc basis starting in 2006, he decided to turn translation into a career and has been translating full-time since 2015. You can find him on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewbunczk.

Beth Smith is an ATA-certified French to English translator living near Houston, Texas. She specializes in advertising and marketing (especially cosmetics and luxury goods), entertainment, and literary translation. You can learn more about her work at www.itranslateFrench.net or check out her Twitter hijinks here: @BethTranslates.

ATA Podcast host Cathy-Eitel Nzume is a certified French to English and English to French Court Interpreter, translator, Department of State Certified Linguist and legal professional. She specializes in legal and conference interpreting as well as legal and financial translation. You can find her on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/cathyeitelnzume/ or on Twitter at @CathyENzume.


SOUNDCLOUD: You can listen to or download Episode 18 and all previous episodes on Soundcloud here.

ITUNES: This episode and all previous episodes are available on iTunes here. You can subscribe or listen online. Like what you hear? Rate us!

Translator Testimonial: Joining an ATA Certification Exam Study Group

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By Amber Marcum Combaud

In December 2020, I took part in the French Language Division’s monthly meet-up. A longtime member of the ATA but trepidatious newcomer to the live, informal meetings held since the beginning of the pandemic, the chosen topic of discussion drew me in and motivated me to extend my normal work hours (GMT+1) to fit it into my schedule. That topic was feedback: giving and getting it, and hosted by Karen Tkaczyk. At the end of an hour spent pleasantly chatting with other members on both sides of the Atlantic and sharing our experiences—and apprehension—about feedback, the FLD announced it would launch an ATA Certification Exam Study Group in January 2021.

A no-brainer decision

After learning of this new FLD activity, making the decision to participate and integrate it into my CPD goals for 2021 was a no-brainer. After I completed my certificate in translation through the NYU SCPS’s online program in 2010, the idea of sitting for the ATA certification exam was enough to make me break out in hives. Though I now have a number of years of full-time freelancing under my belt, the added stress of having to fly back to the US to sit for it always made me push the exam to the bottom of my to-do list. The accountability, group dynamic, and the possibility of connecting with peers were all factors that convinced me that this was the perfect time to rise to the challenge and I planned to join this new group.

Certification exam practice à la FLD

The FLD was inspired by the Slavic Languages Division’s 2017 concept to form its own remote, asynchronous study group. In contrast to the SLD’s approach, the FLD’s self-study group is a less formal version, designed to suit the style and dynamic of the division. At the beginning of each month, an email is sent out by Andie Ho with a short text to translate under exam conditions, along with some context as to the purpose of the text, similar to the instructions that would be given on an actual exam. Links to the ample resources available on the ATA website are provided each month for newcomers. These cover the certification exam itself, a framework for standardized error marking, along with error descriptions. From that point, the translator is free to organize their practice as they wish. They must simply alert Andie by the stated deadline in order to be paired up with a partner for review and feedback. The pairs or groups (in the event of an odd number of participants in a given month) determine how they exchange feedback, whether via the Track Changes mode in Word, a Zoom or telephone call, email exchanges, or a combination of these. A separate, dedicated Discord channel was also created as a forum for terminology, discussing challenges and asking general questions.

How I approach the practice texts and feedback

Translation strategy

I generally complete the translation towards the end of the month so that the text is top of mind. To train myself for the actual exam, I try to stick to an hour max. for all steps in the process: reading the instructions and the full text, term identification, research, drafting, revision and a “read-aloud” review. A side-by-side comparison with the original is important for ensuring that I haven’t left out any words or ideas, a mistake that could be costly. In an exam situation, I would move on to the second passage after the revision step in order to leave time for my text to mature in my mind before doing any tweaking prior to submittal. Depending on the subject and type of text, most months I am able to stay within this timeframe, but in others I have pushed it to 1.5 hours. This would be risky in a real exam, since the time limit is three hours.

The feedback phase

Once partner assignments have gone out, I take the time to review the original passage as well as my own translation, listing any questions I might want to bring up with my partner. As I read through their text, I try to keep in mind the fact that the first item in the list explaining what the certification exam tests for is “compliance with the specifications of the Translation Instructions.” While the goal is certainly not to train as a grader, following the example of one of my peer reviewers, I now try to apply the grading framework in order to identify types of errors. This helps me to keep to the neutral side of constructive criticism. Finally, since the Framework for Standardized Error Marking does allow points to be awarded for “up to three specific instances of exceptional translation,” I make a point to highlight well-written phrases and good word choices in the person’s text as well as smart approaches to prickly issues in the original.

Regarding feedback

I’ve most appreciated when we’ve been able to create dialogue regarding the challenges of a specific text and individual choices. In general, I have received feedback in Track Changes in Word, but I have also been able to connect virtually with a few of my partners to make their acquaintance on Zoom. This has been a positive, satisfying part of my experience. Overall, the process has allowed me to open up more to constructive criticism and confront potential blind spots with humility.

Personal takeaways

A wider range of texts to translate

From the start of my career, I’ve had a pretty narrow niche, due to how I got my start as a translator in a technical field. When I began freelancing, I was able to branch out into other fields and types of documents. The study group has provided a refreshing variety of topics to work on, and not having a choice in the assignments has been beneficial to help me identify and break free from old patterns.


Living in Europe, at times I am asked to conform to UK spelling rather than US. This means that my eyes have become more accepting of spelling variations, an area where losing points would be nonsense! Further, being surrounded by French speakers can prove dangerous if I allow Romance-language structure too much influence on my writing in English. Going into the practice test and any real exam sitting, I’ll know to pay particular attention to both of these points.

Unexpected situations

Through the proposed texts, I’ve encountered a few unexpected situations, like a presumed typo in a company name. While I’m not sure that this curveball was intended, I’ve been able to research how to handle this situation were it to arise during a real exam sitting. I’m also better prepared to manage the technical aspects of what graders expect in terms of deliverables.

Next steps

As summertime is quickly approaching, my next step is completing a practice test passage. I’m also considering how to take advantage of this typically slower period of the year to do more self-study. If all goes as planned, I’ll sit for one of the remote exams offered in September.

In the future, once I’ve reached my goal of certification, I’d like to join a Rev Club. I’ve really enjoyed getting to work with other translators in this non-competitive setting and enriching my own work through contact with theirs.

Advantages of the remote, asynchronous format

  • You can participate on your own time, per your schedule.
  • Joining the study group does not require you to translate the text each month.
  • The long-term nature of the group allows you to familiarize yourself with the dense information about the exam over a longer period of time and break it down in smaller, easy to digest portions.
  • Participants can choose a way to meet and give feedback that suits their personality, preferences and/or schedule.
  • The Discord channel is open for discussion outside your assigned pair or group.

Limitations of a remote practice test group

  • It can be hard to gauge improvement, as the type of text changes each month.
  • There is no benchmark translation with which to compare your work.
  • You may find that translating one text per month may not be enough practice and it could be difficult to maintain momentum.
  • Feedback and interaction with peers vary.
  • Not everyone sees or is connected to the Discord group.

Possible routes to refinement

Getting started

For an into-English group, it could be helpful to spend the first month focusing on the Into-English Grading Standards. This would set aside time specifically for reading the available resource materials, getting familiar with the test format and dos and don’ts, as well as questions, before starting to work on translation passages.

Fostering group interactions

Because the group is not static, and not everyone completes the translation each month, you may end up working with the same partner on multiple occasions. In this event, the Discord channel can be used to request additional input on a specific point or to share something you’ve learned. An additional benefit of doing so is that other FLD members may see your post and get involved in the discussion.

Involving already-certified translators

One particular component of the SLD’s study group cycle that stands out as a potential improvement to the FLD initiative is the Expert Feedback step. The article linked above mentions that “the organizers put together a list of challenges encountered and solicit feedback from volunteer experts… the reviewers do not grade each individual translation, but do provide overall guidance on common challenges.” I found this appealing, although it would require care so that guidelines and expectations are clear for both participants and volunteer CT.

Final thoughts

Over the past five months, the experience has given me the opportunity to meet and exchange feedback with five different colleagues, only one of whom I had ever crossed paths with in the past. This has been the most surprising benefit of committing to working towards certification. When I first joined the ATA, I lived outside a major metropolitan area without a local chapter. In spite of attending the annual conference in NYC in 2009, I found it difficult to stay in touch with members before social media was considered an essential part of our professional lives. Thus far, I’ve really appreciated feeling a sense of belonging to the FLD and developing stronger ties to the ATA by extension.

No matter the form it takes, a certification exam study group is a golden opportunity to invest in your professional development. In the end, it only requires a few hours each month. If this inside look at what the FLD study group can be has motivated you to give it a go, contact divisionFLD [at] atanet.org to sign up and specify if you would like to participate in the French to English group or the English to French group.

Amber Marcum Combaud

Amber Marcum Combaud holds a professional certificate in French to English translation from NYU and a Bachelors in French and Linguistics from UVA. She got her big break in translation thanks to a wine and cheese party. Thereafter, she spent five years working as an in-house technical and corporate communications translator–project administrator for a company in the power generation niche. Currently based in Marseille, she began freelancing in 2016 to serve a wider range of clients in the energy, industry, and construction sectors, local businesses seeking to expand their horizons abroad, and individuals. An active member of the Société française des traducteurs in PACA, she served as a delegate from 2017–2019. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, paddle boarding, art museums, and live jazz. amber [at] amc-communication.com / www.amc-communication.com


Beat the Machine: 4 Little Words, 1 Big Challenge

A vintage toy robot
Photo Credit: Unsplash

By Sam Mowry

How it can be March 2021 when it feels like it never stopped being March 2020, I’ll never know! But it’s a new month and a new chance to compare translations. If you need a quick refresher, you can read about the premise of the Beat the Machine mini translation slam 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. After last month’s technical beast, we’re going in a very different direction this month with by far our shortest sentence ever:

Le réveil fut brutal.

Yes, it really is just four words long! This is an excerpt from the book L’Insomnie by Tahar Ben Jelloun. Rather than showing you what Google Translate would have given us (feel free to check, if you’re curious!), here is the context for this sentence, which ends a chapter:

Mes rêves étaient denses et riches. Je me voyais voguer sur les flots bleus de la Méditerranée, comme si j’étais sur des skis. J’allais très vite, des oiseaux de toutes les couleurs m’accompagnaient. Je chantais, je dansais, comme dans un film de Fred Astaire ! J’étais heureux et je crois même que je m’entichai d’une femme brune à la longue chevelure. Mais quelqu’un me disait à l’oreille : « Attention, c’est la mort ; il arrive parfois qu’elle se déguise pour faire diversion ! » C’est alors que je suis tombé dans la mer, je me noyais. Le réveil fut brutal.

Despite the rest of these words before it, I’m only asking for a translation of the very last sentence there. Four words, including a tense we don’t have in English and a noun that doesn’t have a direct equivalent. There are a million ways to go with this, so let’s see what you do!

Submit your translation here by March 31, 2021, and the blog post discussing it will go up in April!

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. This month in particular; you are encouraged to submit as many times as you like!

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] frenchtranslation.expert to let us know!

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.


  • 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
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/


Liste de références


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


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.


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


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