I’m taking advantage of a short respite in a very busy schedule to demonstrate how very difficult translation is. Take "heckling", to "heckle" and "heckler", for example. My trusted Robert & Collins gives chahut (uproar), chahuter (to create an uproar) et perturbateur (why not chahuteur?) (troublemaker) as respective translations. These choices are completely inaccurate, due to the fact that heckling is an activity steeped in the history of this country, and is rife in British political debate, and as such has a poor equivalent in French when used in this particular context. That’s why we all need to be kind with dictionaries and their writers; some terms are so charged with meaning that one can’t but betray them.
As the Guardian reminds us, heckling was born from lively political debates in 19th century Dundee, where radical flax workers (who "heckled" hemp fibres for a living, and were called "hecklers") regularly interrupted politicians’ speeches to express their discontent. It is now an integral part of the political debate in Britain, a way of constructively and succinctly questioning a politician’s statement. As such, chahut (uproar) seems a particularly reductive choice, as it concentrates on one element, namely the noise and disorder associated with it. Of course, heckling is used primarily to disrupt a speech, but there is often in it an element of questioning, or taking to account.
Perturbateur (troublemaker) for "heckler" is just as reductive. Hecklers normally react to something that was said and that they disagree with, in a more or less articulate way. When it comes to political debate, they don’t disrupt proceedings just for the sake of it. They are there not only to engage in a dialogue by challenging what is said, but also to give a voice to the uninvited, in a manner they believe to be consistent with the democratic process. As a matter of fact, some politicians have become known for their skill in dealing with hecklers (the Guardian gives the example of John Wilkes, who was heckled by a man who cried: "Vote for you? I’d sooner vote for the Devil." To which Wilkes replied, "And what if your friend is not standing?").
So what translations would I offer for these troublesome words? Unfortunately, I have to get back to my 140,000 word translation (how handy!), so I’ll just encourage you to offer ideas in the comments…