The h2g2 Post 18.10.07

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Posted: 18th October 2007



Lost in Translation

... is a film, but my rantings and ravings this issue are about something far older than film. As a project for my independent-study French class (which, as there's only six of us, and I'm the only one in my level, isn't really a "class"), I've decided to translate Voltaire's Candide from its original French into English, a project which has taken up a fair amount of my time. Translating is a fairly nuanced process, which is part of what makes it interesting, naturally. Since Candide is an 18th-century work, there's sometimes vocabulary that you won't find in a modern dictionary, so it's a good thing that the Academie Française keeps their dictionary online! I also ran into a problem today, trying to translate a double entendre that was evident in the French into something that would make sense in English. I'm still struggling actually — so if there's anyone reading who thinks they're clever with double entendres, do drop a note by my Personal Space.

Translating, however, has given me newfound respect for people communicating in languages in which they're not fluent or comfortable. I'm considered to be in advanced French, but while I can order a meal or navigate an airport in the language, I'm a very long way from actually being able to communicate in it — much less being able to read a book without referring to a dictionary. I'm in my third year of French study — just think how much more recent immigrants to English-speaking countries accomplish in far shorter times, and look at all the h2g2 Researchers who communicate effectively in English, even if it isn't their native language.

See? I did manage to bring it back to h2g2 in the end. So it's business as usual here at The Post (with lil and Bel having settled in and doing an excellent job!). Copy for the 31 October (Halloween!) issue will be due in The Post's mailbox on Sunday, 28 October. Thanks very much, and enjoy this edition of The Post!























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