Around the web – March 2015

Do you have your own website? I created mine in 2011 when I first became a full-time freelancer, but recently decided it needed a more professional touch, so I contacted a company specialising in websites for translators and I’m delighted with the result, which went live this month. Anyway here’s my round-up of articles about translation and language for the past month.

The words 'Female' and 'Male' seem etymologically related, but aren't.

The words ‘Female’ and ‘Male’ seem etymologically related, but aren’t.

Some French have trouble pronouncing the two 'h's in hedgehog.

Some French speakers have trouble pronouncing the two ‘h’s in hedgehog.

  • In a similar vein, Matador have rounded up the 20 funniest expressions in French, translated them literally into English, and given advice on how to use them.
  • Last but not least and humour aside, do take a look at Christine Durban’s series of 8 blog posts about translation and ‘ruckus making’. I recently blogged about my reaction to one of the posts.
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Making a ruckus about translation?

The well-known translator and translation advocate Chris Durban took part at the beginning of this month in a Ruckus Makers weekend organised by Seth Godin in upstate New York. Fellow participant Luis Vázquez, a developer and consultant, challenged the 80 ruckusmakers to blog for 8 days straight (hashtag: #RuckusmakersChallenge) and Chris’ posts can be found at http://chrisdurbanblog.com. Their content draws on Seth Godin’s workshop.

The Ruckusmakers 2015

The Ruckusmakers 2015

In her introduction she wrote:

I’ll be exploring how some of Seth’s insights apply to hot issues in translation and to my own personal challenge: raising awareness in the general public of how expert human translators work and how that expertise can be harnessed to make life better. And allow translators to secure the income and recognition they need to shape their working environment — and get even better at what they do.

While all the posts are interesting, the one that spoke most to me was No. 7: Out into the fray. In it she describes attending a networking event for entrepreneurs in Paris. March’s get-together celebrated some tech start-up heads just back from a successful trip to 2015 CES in Las Vegas and showed clips featuring their products. She says:

…each of the first three films was saddled with distractingly odd English subtitles. (“Where only the bests is about the most important show of the world […]”) … one thing was clear: I was the only one wincing … The explanation? Everyone else was a native French speaker. They all spoke English fluently enough for meetings, but just didn’t see the written mistakes.  That’s language for you—non-natives rarely have the same sensitivity to grammar and style glitches in writing their foreign language, which is one reason why professional translators work only into their mother tongue.

The situation of being the sole native speaker at a networking or somesuch event and seemingly the only person bothered by such linguistic awkwardness is one in which I’ve found myself more times than I’d like to count, and while it can be a lonely feeling, it’s reassuring to know I’m not alone. Doubtless Chris’s persuasive powers are more developed than mine, as she discreetly spoke to those in charge and a language review is now planned for 2016’s conference as these people care about what they do. However several times I’ve tried the same approach and found the result to be less than satisfactory: “We don’t get many English speakers anyway” (vicious circle – you’re not going to get more with bad translations are you?), “But that’s the translation I got off the internet” (so if Google translates it like that it must be correct of course), “But the translation was done by my bilingual cousin/son/secretary”… What IS the solution when people don’t care? When DO you give up and stop trying to persuade/educate people?

15 Reunion Creole proverbs

Every culture has its own proverbs, and Reunion Creole is no exception – it’s a very colourful language that often makes use of imagery even in simple everyday conversation, so for example if you’re starving you might say Mon léstoma i bat kart (literally ‘my stomach is playing cards’). If something is difficult: La pa in rougay tomat! (‘it’s not a rougail tomate’, the latter being a spicy condiment that is quick and easy to make), and to nitpick is chercher carapate su la peau bèf  (literally ‘look for a tick on cattle skin’).

Here’s a list of fifteen Reunion Creole proverbs with their French and English translations and/or equivalents:

Couler la peau la pas couler lo ker
La couleur de la peau n’est pas la couleur du cœur
You shouldn’t judge people by the colour of their skin

Coq mon voisin grossèr mon marmite
Le coq de mon voisin est la taille de mon marmite/Ce que possède le voisin fait toujours envie
We always want what the neighbours have

Bataille coqs

Kan gro bëf i sharzh, sort dëvan!
Quand le gros bœuf charge, ne reste pas devant
When the boss isn’t happy, watch out.

Bon kari i fé dann vië karay
Le bon carri se fait dans une vieille marmite/C’est dans les vieux pots qu’on fait la bonne soupe
Old pipes give the sweetest smoke

Semaine_cr_ole_002

 

Zorey koshon dann marmit poi
Les oreilles d’un cochon dans une marmite de pois/Faire la sourde oreille
Turn a deaf ear

Semaine_cr_ole_006

 

Bëf dëvan i boir dëlo prop
Le boeuf de devant boit de l’eau propre/Premier arrivé, premier servi
First come, first served

Kass pa la tet la plï i farine, soley va arnir
Ne te casses pas la tête si la pluie bruine, le soleil va revenir/Après la pluie, le beau temps
Every cloud has a silver lining

Entr_e_de_Ste_Anne_paneau

Pakapab lé mor san esséyé
Pas-Capable est mort sans essayer/Qui ne tente rien n’a rien
He who tries nothing has nothing

Kalebass’ amèr’ y suiv’ la racin’
La calebasse amère suit la racine/Tel père tel fils
Like father like son

GEDC0833

La chance lo shein lé pa la chance lo shat
A dog’s chance isn’t a cat’s chance/A chacun sa chance
Everybody gets a chance

Semaine_cr_ole_001

Poul i ponde pas kanard
Une poule ne pond pas un canard/Les chiens ne font pas les chats
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree

Semaine_cr_ole_009

Le chien y sent sa queue
Chacun voit midi à sa porte
To each his own

Gro poisson i bek su l’tar
Le plus grand poisson ne mord pas en premier/Une bonne affaire se fait parfois attendre
All good things come to he who waits

Action

Ou va war kel koté brinzel i charge
Tu vas voir de quel côté l’aubergine est chargée/Tu vas voir de quel bois je me chauffe
See the true colours (of someone)

Goni vid i tienbo pa dëbout
Un sac de jute vide ne tient pas debout/Avoir le ventre vide rend faible
This last proverb is one of my favourites, but I haven’t been able to find an English equivalent. It literally means ‘an empty jute bag won’t stand upright’, the idea being that if you’re hungry you’re also tired and won’t be able to do anything properly without eating first (definitely my case!).

By the way did you know the study of proverbs is called paremiology?

The pictures are taken from the blog post in French Reunion’s best Creole proverbs, illustrated by Paul Clodel. As Reunion doesn’t have a set orthography you may notice some spelling differences between the quotes I’ve listed and what is shown in the pictures.

If you have anything to add, please let me know in the comments below.

 

Further reading: