Wednesday, October 31, 2012

It’s magnifical!

Further proof, if proof were needed, of two self-evident facts from the world of translation, namely:

i. translators are a waste of money because anyone can translate;

ii. every French man or woman that the Good Lord has so graciously bequeathed to us speaks perfect English.

Or maybe not...

A couple of weeks ago the French President, Mr Netherlands, decided to show off his English skills in a congratulatory letter to the recently re-elected President Obama.
The sentiment was laudable and the French impeccable.

Then the moment came for Monsieur Hollande to try his hand at the “language of Shakespeare” – nothing too daring, just a single – handwritten - word, as the President signed off with:

Friendly, François Hollande.

Wasn’t there anyone in the entire République Française who could have suggested that perhaps the best way to translate the  conventional French “amicalement” might have been “Kind regards”?

We – even professional translators – all make mistakes from time to time, and Hollande is in the finest company. Who could forget President Sarkozy, apologising for the poor weather when Hilary Clinton was visiting Paris, offering a heartfelt: “Sorry for the time”? 

Or, impressed by the splendours of London, Sarkozy whispering to the Queen: “It’s magnifical!”.

With thanks to

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