Guest Post – on translating a Phrasal Verb article

Guest post by Anne of Translating Meaning. You can find her on twitter as @MotherGoutte. I will leave it to her to introduce herself and her fabulous article

Phrazal verbes, ouat arr phrazal verbes ? Des verbes a particules, c’est quoi des verbes a particules ?

French by birth, half English by heart, I am a mother of four and amateur translator hoping to become a professional.

I would like to address heartfelt thanks to Millie for kindly invited me on her blog. We thought it might be amusing to translate in French one of her phrasal verb posts, phrasal verbs being a concept very alien to the French language!

I chose ‘Bringing a Verb to Light’, of which Millie’s version follows.

Despite the fact that writing a blog doesn’t exactly bring home the bacon, I can’t bring myself to give it up.

Far be it from me to bring something up indelicately, but it’s time to bring to your attentionthe fact that I am soon bringing out a book, and if I can bring you round to the idea of buying it, that will bring my credit up! If I can bring it off successfully, then that will bring me into the limelight!

I can bring up the subject of my children, who I am bringing up, and who may also bring up their dinner sometimes. When they do, you might think it was brought about by a tummy bug, after all, we are not at sea, so it is not a ship being brought about. At least I’ve never needed to bring them to, or perhaps even bring them round, they are not in the habit of losing consciousness!

I heard that Peter brought down a bird when he was hunting – he shot at it once. I hope the same didn’t happen to the president when he was brought down! Although there are those he say he needed to be brought down a peg or two after the new trade legislation that he brought in.

Well. I doubt I’ve brought the house down, but I hope I’ve brought some smiles to your faces!

Now, the bane of a translator is literal translation. It’s a treason to meaning, form, grammar and culture, but it can be done in derision and the effect is undoubtedly funny. This is what I have done here, at least for the phrasal verbs. I have chosen to translate the rest of the text as a more meaningful translation ! I’ll come back later to the different choices I made but for now, here it is (I have written the phrasal verbs in bold as Millie had done in her text).

Malgré le fait qu’écrire un blog n’amène pas vraiment le bacon à la maison, je ne peux amener moi-même à l’abandonner.

Loin de moi l’idée d’amener quelque chose en haut de façon indélicate, mais il est temps que j’amène à votre attention le fait que je vais bientôt amener un livre dehors, et si je peux vous amener vers l’idée de l’acheter, cela amènera certainement mon statut en haut ! Si je peux amener cela à fin avec succès, alors cela m’amènera dans les lumières de la scène !

Je peux amener en haut le sujet de mes enfants, que je suis en train d’amener en haut, et qui pourraient aussi amener en haut leur repas, parfois. Lorsque cela arrive vous pourriez penser que cela a été amené à propos par une gastro, après tout, nous ne sommes pas en mer, donc ce n’est pas un navire en train d’être amené de retour. Du moins je n’ai jamais eu besoin d’amener à eux, ou peut-être même les amener de retour, ils n’ont pas l’habitude de perdre conscience !

J’ai entendu dire que Pierre avait amené un oiseau en bas alors qu’il chassait – il tira dessus une fois. J’espère que la même chose n’est pas arrivée au Président quand il a été amené en bas ! Bien qu’il y ait ceux qui disent qu’il avait besoin d’être amené en bas d’un cran ou deux après la nouvelle loi sur le commerce qu’il a amenée dedans.

Enfin, je ne pense pas avoir amené la maison en bas, mais j’espère avoir amené un sourire sur vos lèvres !

My first choice was to decide how to translate ‘bring’ which can mean amenerramener or rapporter , according to the context, and whether to use the different translations or just one. I decided for just one to be more in tune with the original text, and I chose amener (e.g. J’amènerai le dessert – I will bring the pudding).

The prepositions or adverbs presented two difficulties :

*As any other word, there isn’t just one way to translate them, according to what the writer, or speaker, wants to convey.

*In the same way that the meaning of the verb changes according to the preposition or adverb added to it, the meaning of the preposition or adverb changes according to the meaning of the verb (are you following?). For example : If I can bring you round to the idea… and Perhaps even bring them round. In the first sentence there is a sense of influencing someone’s mind, it’s round as towards (which is how I translated it : vers). In the second sentence we could say ‘bring back to consciousness’ but ‘bringing round’ is a simpler way to say it. The latter presents yet another difficulty (I know!) : whether it’s common to use stranded prepositions in English (a preposition at the end of a sentence), it doesn’t work in French. That’s why I could not use vers again for ‘Perhaps even bring them round’ – it’s always vers something –  but chose instead de retour (returning, or back).

I also used de retour for ‘it is not a ship being brought about’. In this case ‘brought about’ has got a specific meaning, particular to nautical vocabulary and means the ship makes a U-turn. I chose to use de retour also to echo an other sentence in which I use it and have, as in the original text, several times the same verb-presposition associations.

Another sentence that was quite tricky was ‘If I can bring it off successfully’ as there is no single word equivalent of ‘off” in French. I tried a lot of different combinations, none of which pleased me! Eventually I chose à fin : two words instead of just one preposition in English, but That’s what I did with de retour too.

Then I thought of something else that could be quite fun to do. I translated the article in a more conventional French ! Here it is.

Malgré le fait qu’un blog ne fasse pas vraiment bouillir la marmite, je ne peux me résoudre à l’abandonner.

Loin de moi l’idée de faire une remarque mal-à-propos, mais il est temps de porter à votre connaissance qu’un livre dont je suis l’auteur va bientôt sortir, et si je peux vous amener à l’acheter cela relèvera mon statut! Si je peux mener cela à bien, alors je serai sous les projecteurs!

Je peux soulever le sujet de mes enfants, que j’élève, et dont le dîner peut parfois remonter (note that it’s the dinner coming back up as opposed to the children bringing it up). Lorsque cela arrive, vous pourriez penser que cela a été entraîné par une gastro, après tout, nous ne sommes pas en mer, donc il ne s’agit pas d’un navire qui a changé bout pour bout. Du moins je n’ai jamais eu besoin de les ramener à eux, ni même de les ramener à la vie , ils n’ont pas l’habitude de perdre conscience !

J’ai entendu dire que Pierre a abbattu un oiseau alors qu’il chassait – un seul coup de fusil. J’espère que la même chose n’est pas arrivée au président lorsqu’il a été battu ! Bien qu’il y ait ceux qui disent qu’il avait besoin d’être rabattu d’un cran ou deux après la nouvelle loi sur le commerce qu’il avait introduite.

Enfin, je ne pense pas avoir cassé la baraque, mais j’espère que votre visage s’est fendu d’un sourire.

And back again to English with a literal translation of the bold writing !

Despite the fact that writing a blog doesn’t exactly make the cauldron boil, I can’t resolve myself to give it up.

Far be it from me to make some remarks malapropos, but it’s time to bear to your knowledge the fact that I have written a book that will soon come out, and if I can bring you to buying it, that will raise my status ! If I can bring this to good, then I will be under the spotlights !

I can raise the subject of my children, who I am raising, and whose dinner may also come back up sometimes. When it does, you might think it was brought about by a tummy bug, after all, we are not at sea, so it is not a ship being changed  end for endAt least I’ve never needed bring them back to themselvesor perhaps even bring them back to life, they are not in the habit of losing consciousness!

I heard that Peter brought down a bird when he was hunting – he shot at it once. I hope the same didn’t happen to the president when he was beaten ! Although there are those he say he needed to be brought down a peg or two after the new trade legislation that he introduced.

Well. I doubt I’ve broken down the hut, but I hope your faces have splitted into a smile !

2 thoughts on “Guest Post – on translating a Phrasal Verb article

  1. Reblogged this on Translating Meaning and commented:
    I am really pleased to have written my first ever guest post for the lovely and multi talented Millie, etymologist, writer, translator and new Twitter friend! (you can follow her @AlexpolisTigers) Please follow the link to visit her blog and read the full article.

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