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CONJUNCTIONS. § 38. When is not translated by lorsque, if preceded by a noun expressing time to which it relates. It would be a great mistake to translate the following phrase, I was not at home THE DAY WHEN he arrived, Je n'étais pas à la maison LE JOUR LORSQU'il arriva. It must be rendered, Je n'étais pas à la maison LE JOUR QU'il arriva.
§ 39. After the verb attendre, TILL must not be translated by jusqu'à ce que. Que alone is to be used.
Attendez Que j'aie fini. In a negative sentence, do not employ the conjunctive expression, jusqu'à ce que; but make use of the prepositive form avant de. Example : Never sign your name to a paper TILL you have read the contents of it. Ne signez jamais un papier AVANT D'en avoir lu le contenu. It would not be French here to say, JUSQU'À CE QUE vous en ayez lu le contenu.
§ 40. Observe that the conjunctions, quand, lorsque, aussitôt que, and dès que, require the verb which follows to be in the future when the principal verb of the sentence is itself in the future or the imperative.
Aussitôt que vous AUREZ FINI, venez me trouver. § 41. In English, a conjunction may have several verbs depending on it. Examples : As that affair is now public, and you have resolved to speak, I will be a witness to you. SINCE he wishes to come, and his father gives him leave, I shall be glad to receive him. In French, whatever may be the first conjunction, the verbs that follow must always be preceded by que. Examples : COMME cette affaire est maintenant publique, et QUE vous avez resolu de parler, je vous servirai de témoin. Puisqu'il desire venir, et QUE son père lui en donne la permission, je serai heureux de le recevoir.
$ 42. The conjunction Though has generally as a correspondent
the word yet. Example : Though all men are in arms against truth, yet this does not prevent its triumphing. In French it would be a mistake, in that case, to translate yet, as it is too often rendered, by cependant. You must suppress it and say, QUOIQUE tous les hommes soient armés contre la vérité, cela ne l'empêche pas de triompher.
ADVERBS. § 43. NEARLY and ALMOST must not be translated indifferently by PRESQUE OS PRÈS DE.
PRESQUE is an adverb which modifies an adjective, a participle, or another adverb. Examples : Elle était PRESQUE FOLLE, She was nearly mad.-La maison est PRESQUE rebâtie, The house is almost rebuilt.—Ils vivaient PRESQUE somptueusement, They lived almost sumptuously.
PRÈS DE is an adverb of quantity which is only found before a number. Examples : Il a PRÈS DE quinze ans, He is nearly fifteen.
-J'ai reçu PRÈS DE cent livres, I received nearly one hundred pounds.
It would be wrong to say, Il a PRESQUE quinze ans ; J'ai reçu PRESQUE cent livres.
§ 44. The adverb now is frequently found in a sentence the verbs of which are in the past tense. Example : This reply did not lessen the monarch's surprise, for he now began to suspect his preceptor of mental derangement. In French, MAINTENANT is only used with the present tense ; it would be impossible to say, MAINTENANT il commençait. In this case we must make use of ALORS, and translate thus: Cette réponse ne diminua pas la surprise du monarque, car ALORS il commençait à soupçonner son précepteur d'avoir l'esprit dérangé.
The translator must not only conform to the requirements of the syntax, but he must also carefully observe two laws which are paramount in French ; I mean Clearness and Euphony.
same words she means to make the children better understand how pleased she is with their conduct. It is therefore wrong in the translator, in order to avoid this repetition, which doubtless appeared to him bad taste in French, to fancy himself obliged to render the second I am very glad, by Vous avez bien fait. Moreover, he has employed an exclamatory form which is not in the English sentence.
Plums often mean, it is true, a kind of dried raisins that are frequently used in puddings, but the plums spoken of here are simply English garden plums, prunes in French ; and this is proved by what Anna previously said to her brother : Why, Paul, you know the fruit-woman said she would give us a dozen plums for a penny. If the child meant raisins, she would not have said that they were sold by the dozen at a fruit-stall. Whoever has lived in England knows that raisins are to be found at the grocer's, who sells them by weight.
The suppression of the article before raisins and couverture entirely alters the sense. The question is not, in fact, of plums or blankets in general, but of some particular plums that the children had coveted and of the blanket that Paul had seen at Dunstable.
We find next, I'm sure it is not honestly ours translated by Je suis certaine qu'elle ne vous appartient pas. Why render I'm sure by Je suis certaine? Is not Je suis sûre just as good ? Did Miss Edgeworth write I'm certain? Why therefore change her expression? What is gained by it? The author has also put, It is not honestly ours, and the translator says, Elle ne vous appartient pas, without giving honestly at all.
We in vain seek in the French for Those who threw it ;—I warrant ;-What I would have you do ;-Instead of a half-penny.
We cannot see why To go to Dunstable is replaced by Aller à la ville.
In saying, To go to either of the inns, the grandmother wishes it to be understood that there are only two inns with which she is well acquainted, and which a little further on are called The Dun Cow and The Black Bull. The translator in making her say, Vous vous adresserez à toutes les auberges, allows the reader to suppose that there are a great number of inns, which would render the search impracticable to the children, and particularly so at the night-fall.
La personne à qui la guinée appartient is not the translation for The person who gave it to you. We will grant that the translator has wished to avoid repeating the verb donner, which occurs a little before ; but, while avoiding this repetition, he falls into another, for he has just a few words previously used the verb appartenir. Why then deviate from the author, who has assuredly had some reason for the repetition ? Now this reason we find in the age of the grandmother. She is an old woman who naturally likes to repeat things, and who, in the present instance, wishes to impress her words upon the minds of the children.
Il est un peu tard may be said of an hour of the day; here, on the contrary, it is already the end of the day, and this is what the author has intended to express by in the evening. It is, therefore, this idea which must be conveyed; and, moreover, nothing would have been easier than to say, Comme la soirée est déjà fort avancée.
The travellers will sleep at Dunstable instead of going on the next stage, means, Les voyageurs coucheront à Dunstable au lieu d'aller jusqu'au prochain relais. The translator in writing Les voyageurs se sont arrêtés au prochain relais, says quite another thing, and completely misunderstands the passage ; for the old woman would never send the children to a stage perhaps ten miles off.
The translator should not have displaced by this time, which was so easy to retain at the end of the sentence.
Votre premier soin bears no relation to the idea, All you can do; and, finally, we do not see why gentleman is translated by voyageur, and chaise by voiture.
§ 12. Here is the same extract translated according to the principles we have laid down
“Mes chers, mes braves enfants,” dit-elle, "je suis très-contente que vous m'ayez dit tout cela ; je suis très-contente que vous n'ayez acheté ni les prunes ni la couverture avec cette guinée ; je suis sûre qu'elle ne nous appartient pas honnêtement; ceux qui vous l'ont jetée, l'ont donnée par mégarde, je vous le garantis ; et ce que
voudrais vous voir faire, ce serait d'aller à Dunstable et de tâcher, si vous pouvez, en vous adressant à l'une ou à l'autre des deux auberges, de découvrir la personne qui vous a donné cette guinée. La soirée est maintenant si avancée, que peut-être les voyageurs coucheront à Dunstable au lieu d'aller jusqu'au prochain relais; et il est vraisemblable que celui qui vous a donné la guinée au lieu d'un sou, s'est aperçu
de sa méprise à l'heure qu'il est. Tout ce que vous pouvez faire, c'est d'aller vous enquérir du monsieur qui lisait dans la chaise.”
$ 13. It sometimes happens that we are puzzled by a word which does not permit us to preserve the English construction. In such cases we must have recourse to an expedient which demands a profound knowledge of both languages. We substitute one part of speech for another, and either give an adjective for a noun, or a noun for an adjective. Example : How I love the fresh green fields and the shady trees! It would here be impossible to follow the order of the words and to translate literally, Combien j'aime les FRAIS VERTS champs et les OMBREUX arbres ! But, by means of the proceeding we have just indicated, we can say correctly, and even elegantly, without making any change in the order of the words : Combien 'aime la FRAÎCHE VERDURE des champs et L'OMBRE des arbres !
$ 14. Let us say, in conclusion, that accuracy must not be carried into singularity. Here, as in everything else, we must avoid exaggeration, and not sacrifice to the fidelity of the text, either the perspicuity of ideas or the genius of the French language. If the translator has at first difficulties to contend with, he should as soon as he has assured himself that it is impossible to retain the identity of the original and the translation, be satisfied with those turns of expression which best reproduce the English, and do so with as close analogies as he can find.
§ 15. One of our greatest prose writers, Chateaubriand, has attempted to translate Milton word for word, without paying any regard to the requirements of the French language. Notwithstanding all the resources of his great genius, he has completely failed; and his translation appears to have been undertaken merely to show what ought to have been avoided.
Three passages taken at random will supply striking examples :
1. Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste
(Paradise Lost, Book i.)