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Why a picture of apples on an entry dedicated to the expression “Bone of contention”, you wonder? Well, that is the beauty of translation: you start with a bone and end up with an apple. Let me explain.
I had to translate the following sentence:

A bone of contention in several case studies relates to the involvement of donors to policy development.

A “bone of contention” is something that creates conflict, like a bone thrown between two dogs is guaranteed to start a big fight. A direct equivalent of this metaphor doesn’t exist in French, so I could have used a modulation and translated the substance of it, for example:

Dans plusieurs études de cas, la participation des bailleurs de fonds au développement de politiques a divisé les opinions/causé des conflits/provoqué des tensions, etc….


The meaning is clear, but this involves a stylistic loss. This is why I chose to use a metaphoric modulation, which has the advantage of offering a rather nice prosodic and grammatical parallelism, and which I thought was perfect in this context: pomme de discorde (apple of discord).

Dans plusieurs études de cas, la participation des bailleurs de fonds au développement de politiques a été une pomme de discorde.


This expression comes from Greek mythology: Eris, the nasty goddess of discord, was very upset when she wasn’t invited to a very important wedding, which all the other gods and goddesses were attending. That is why during the banquet, she threw among the guests a golden apple bearing the words “to the most beautiful goddess”. Of course, all the goddesses wanted it and Prince Paris was told to decide who should have it. He chose Aphrodite, who promised him that he would marry the most beautiful woman in the world. This happened to be Helen, wife of King Menelaus. Paris went off to kidnap her and thus started the Trojan War (and some serious discord).