If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen the following tweet:
This was a reference to the following passage:
Gluteus maximus weakness causes poor biomechanics and can contribute to knee injuries. In other words: If your ass is weak, you’ll pay with your knees.
I wasn’t comfortable with a literal translation of ass, which could have been cul, and before you wonder, it’s not because I’m a prude. I just think that cul is slightly more coarse than the more innocuous ass, and I didn’t think it was appropriate in the context of the magazine. I’ve been translating similar article magazines for four years, and it really didn’t work for me. Sometimes, a translator has to follow her instinct. So I rejected cul, but I still needed to account for the we’re guys talking to guys about training in the gym tone of the sentence, which ass conveyed so well.
Thankfully, there is a translation technique called compensation. It allows the beleaguered translation professional to transfer a stylistic difficulty into another section of the text. So I upped the language register and expanded my translation of ass a notch (muscles du postérieur). This translation is much more technical, which is fine, as the article is aimed at fitness fanatics and contains a lot of detailed information, but it lost all its slangy flavour. I really wanted to keep it, so I transferred to the end of the sentence. I translated you’ll pay with your kness with ce sont vos genoux qui trinquent, literally to drink to something, but which, in its familiar slant, means to pay the price. This way, I hope to keep the familiarity and jocularity of the original. This is the translation I came to:
Une faiblesse au niveau du grand fessier peut causer des problèmes biomécaniques et contribuer aux blessures du genou. Autrement dit, quand les muscles du postérieur sont faibles, ce sont les genoux qui trinquent.