French/Spanish to English translation

03 September 2012

The Term ‘to Make’ When Translating between French and English

 ‘Make’ in English translates directly to ‘faire’, which should be an easy enough and useful term.

However, this verb is more complicated than it seems. In what context are you using ‘make’?
In English ‘make’ can imply the dressing of a bed (as in, make one’s bed), the building of something (to make a snowman), the forcing of someone (making one do), or to be something or adopt a certain attitude (to make nice).

There are many more variations on this, but it becomes apparent that a direct translation will not suffice.

It becomes necessary to diversify the vocabulary by inferring the metaphorical meaning, applying a more apt verb, and from there translating from English to French. For example, ‘to make’ a building, in the context of creating something, is to ‘construct’ a building, which directly translates to ‘construire’.

Additionally, ‘to make’ someone do, is to ‘persuade’ or ‘force’ someone to do something, which translates to ‘obliger’ or ‘forcer’.

It is these slight variances that make French to English translation so much more difficult that a direct input-output of text from Google Translate. To ensure that these translations are not lost in an important document, only National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) practitioners should be used when translating documents from English to French or French to English.

The examples so far have only been one-word terms in exchange for one-word terms, but again, the language becomes more complicated. Often there are exchanges of prepositions or other words. For example, if one were to directly translate ‘meet up’, it may come out as ‘rendezvous en haut’, which when translated back to English means to ‘meet up, up’, which is clearly a mistake. 

Many more nuances will be explored in the following weeks à la Traduction Francais Anglais/English to French translation.

 

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