28 April 2009

How Do You Say "Robot Overlords" in French?

My good friend Jeff has translated my short story "Better" into French for a class he's taking. Read "Amélioré" now!

Here are Jeff's notes on the translation:

I had a bit of trouble deciding on the title, I'm still not decidé... "Amélioré" means "improved". There's also "Meiux", which is the simple translation of "better", like "the better quality stories come from Curtis". But I think your title refers to the process of making soldiers better, i.e. improved soldiers. So I chose amélioré.

I also did not reproduce the spelling in destroy all machines. I think what you are trying to show is the passage of time, which has eroded/changed the words.

The reason why I didn't do it in French is that the effect does not really translate to French well. French is a language with one true way to spell words. It is not clear how to reflect the passage of time on French words -- at least to someone with such a tenuous grasp of the language. My teacher agreed that she couldn't think of a way to handle it. One nice thing is that the French word for "old things" is ancien, which is the same as the French word for "ancient". So in French there is, by design of the language, the possibility that we are talking about really really old words, not just the old words from the uncle.

To make up for it a bit, I did choose the harshest, most violent version of "destroy" available in French, a word I'd never heard before. My teacher said it was a really good fit. (anéantir = to lay waste to (a town), to shatter (a dream))

Thanks, Jeff!

I don't speak French, but if someone out there would like to record an audio version of Jeff's translation, I'd love to hear it.


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