Translation links

Two interesting links provided by Jean-Paul and Audrey – thanks a lot to both of you.
The first one is an essay about the translator/author relationship and translation in general. It’s beautifully written, but provided only in French, unfortunately. If some brave soul fancies a challenge, I’ll be delighted to post the English translation. A quote that I particularly like: Traduire, c’est exécuter une danse pieds et poings liés (to translate is to dance with your hands and feet bound).
The second is a letter from the Association of French literary translators to the French Minister for culture to express their dismay at the news that the Ministry of culture websites are to be machine translated, with no human intervention. Unbelievable.

By | 2008-06-20T08:49:23+00:00 June 20th, 2008|Culture|4 Comments

About the Author:

I am Céline Graciet, a freelance English to French translator. Since 2003 I’ve been writing on all sorts of areas linked to translation and the life of a translator.


  1. Jenn Mercer June 21, 2008 at 2:02 am

    The essay by Sophie Képès is well worth reading. I’ll let you know if I get the time to translate it.
    Merci mille fois,

  2. Provi June 21, 2008 at 4:46 am

    How silly to have it machine translated! Unbelievable in deed.

  3. Bela June 22, 2008 at 2:31 am

    I’m not going to comment on the second item b/c it’s utterly preposterous. It won’t happen – surely! Will it?
    As for the first one, I can certainly identify with the sentiments expressed in that brilliant article, especially the bit about wanting to commit ‘authoricide’. At the end of last year and the beginning of this one, I spent several months translating a novel by a young – and very much alive – Canadian writer. I was praying I wouldn’t have to get in touch with him: there’s always a slight suspicion that if you ask for clarification it means your command of the source language is not, you know, absolutely perfect. Unfortunately, there were several factual errors in the book – things that the author shouldn’t have written and the editor shouldn’t have left in. Prompted by my own editor (who decided to stay out of it – the coward, LOL!), I pointed them out to the author, who couldn’t have been more apologetic and lovely about it (he too wondered how they had slipped through the net). Reassured by my ‘eagle eye’, he didn’t interfere at all, thank goodness. In spite of that, I felt like strangling him (and his editor) several more times in the course of my work. It wasn’t just that, as Sophie Képès says, he didn’t write the way I would have, it was that his writing was sloppy and very often obscure for no good reason. I felt ‘pulsions de meurtre’ towards him long before page 250. I handed in my translation a couple of months ago. The memory is fading now and I’m hoping I can read the proofs without wanting to kill the guy all over again.
    If I could choose I would certainly go for short texts by dead writers, but, hey, who has that kind of luxury? Still, I had never experienced that kind of thing before; I never felt murderous towards Isaac Bashevis Singer or Peter Ustinov. When the writing is of superior quality, I don’t think it matters that it takes over your head. Of course, I’m not a professional writer myself. I don’t know how I would feel about it if I were.

  4. sozluk June 28, 2008 at 11:08 am

    it seems the french are again underestimating the power of other languages by outsourcing the translation job to machines. as the oldest professions, prostitution and translation are two machine-insensitive areas of expertise!

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