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– Baudelaire ne te plaît pas ?
– Oh, tu sais, je n'ai jamais eu vraiment l'occasion de le lire.
– Tu ne connais pas, alors, ses pièces condamnées ?
– Non.
– Alors, je comprends maintenant pourquoi Baudelaire ne te plaît pas !

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A practice translation of two paragraphs of a blog post at F. Desouche, quoting a Dutch correspondent on a recent case in the Netherlands, in which a site owner was held criminally responsible for comments left by visitors to his web site:
D’autre part, si certains articles s’avèrent en effet insultants, pourquoi le MDI n’applique-t-il pas le même traitement à www.maroc.nl ? Sur ce forum, des textes bien plus offensants sont postés quotidiennement. Des posteurs se félicitent ou se réjouissent quand des soldats néerlandais (ou américains) sont tués en Afghanistan. Et disent prier pour qu’il y en ait encore davantage. D’innombrables commentaires, extrêmement insultants à l’égard des Pays-Bas — pays où ces gens sont nés — sont publiés régulièrement. Aucun de ces messages n’a été l’objet de poursuites judiciaires. Pas le moindre post. Pas plus que le webmaster ou le modérateur. Et il y a peu de chance qu’aucun le soit.Besides, if certain articles prove to be in fact insulting, why doesn't the MDI1 handle www.maroc.nl the same way? On that forum, much more offensive texts are posted daily. Posters congratulate themselves and express delight when Dutch (or American) soldiers are killed in Afghanistan. And they pray for even more deaths there. Countless comments that are extremely insulting with regard to the Netherlands – the country where these people were born – are published on a regular basis. None of these messages have been the object of prosecution. Not the least post. Not even the webmaster or the moderator. And there is little chance that anyone will do so.
Revenons à l’article du Telegraaf : « L’orientation (politique) du site a été décisive. ». Le MDI s’érige donc en juge de l’orientation d’un site, et de savoir s’il est ou non acceptable. Selon quels critères ? On trouve des motifs pour “liquider” un site qui n’est pas “dans la ligne”…Let us return to the Telegraaf article: "The (political) leanings of the site were decisive." The MDI has now set itself up as the judge of a site's political leanings and of whether they are or are not acceptable. By what criteria? One finds grounds for "liquidating" a site that does not "toe the line"…
UPDATE: In response to my original closing line ("I am not sure about my translation of 'Pas plus que le webmaster ou le modérateur' (given the context, this should read "Not a single webmaster or moderator"). Am I missing something?"), I've incorporated suggestions from a comment by LJer [livejournal.com profile] ethershai. I've also corrected some minor errors I found on my own.

Cheers...

[1] Meldpunt Discriminatie Internet, which describes itself as "the Dutch complaints bureau for discrimination on the Internet."
 
alexpgp: (St. Jerome w/ computer)
Having run across some quotes from Solzhenitsyn's 1978 commencement speech at Harvard in the Bonnal article, I found myself comparing French and English versions of that speech. The English version available online (from Columbia University) seems to be saying almost the same things as the French, but not as well:
Après avoir souffert pendant des décennies de violence et d’oppression, l’âme humaine aspire à des choses plus élevées, plus brûlantes, plus pures que celles offertes aujourd’hui par les habitudes d’une société massifiée, forgées par l’invasion révoltante de publicités commerciales, par l’abrutissement télévisuel, et par une musique intolérable. - as quoted in the Bonnal articleAfter the suffering of decades of violence and oppression, the human soul longs for things higher, warmer and purer than those offered by today's mass living habits, introduced by the revolting invasion of publicity, by TV stupor and by intolerable music. - The Augustine Club at Columbia University, 1997After having suffered decades of violence and oppression, the human soul longs for higher, more impassioned, and purer things than those offered today by the habits of a mass society, forged by an appalling invasion of commercial advertising, television-induced stupor, and intolerable music. - my translation
In the end, with the exception of a differing interpretation for "brûlant" (if the French is correct, the English surely isn't "warmer"), my version looks like the Columbia version, though with some elbow grease applied.

As I did this exercise, it struck me that there must be a Russian version of this text (and there is, here, at least), which stands a good chance of being the authoritative text - surely Aleksandr Isaevich would've composed his speech in Russian - though with the usual caveats on post-delivery edits. Here is the relevant Russian and my translation:
Душа человека, исстрадавшаяся под десятилетиями насилия, тянется к чему-то более высокому, более тёплому, более чистому, чем может предложить нам сегодняшнее западное массовое существование, как визитной карточкой предпосылаемое отвратным напором реклам, одурением телевидения и непереносимой музыкой.The human soul, which has suffered decades of violation, longs for something higher, warmer, and purer than can be offered today by Western mass existence, which presents a bilious rush of advertising, television-induced stupor, and unendurable music as its calling card.
One gets the feeling that the deeper one digs, the muddier things become. Notice the Russian does speak of "higher, warmer, and purer" longings, so the French "brûlant" is probably not the best word choice (though I'll be dipped if I can suggest something better).

The mind boggles.

If I were translating the Bonnal article for pay, I'd go with my first translation (of the French, into English). However, it seems to me that what we see here is a rather elaborate game of "telephone," where the true meaning is lost in translation.

Hmmm... "lost in translation"... sounds like a catchy phrase.

Cheers...
alexpgp: (St. Jerome w/ computer)
A practice translation of the first two paragraphs of a piece by Nicolas Bonnal at Les 4 Vérités, titled Soljenitsyne, le dernier écrivain européen (Solzhenitsyn, the Last European Writer:
Soljenitsyne est mort, et avec lui une certaine idée de l’homme et de la littérature. C’est la littérature d’avant le désastre, d’avant Coelho ou Harry Potter, Sulitzer ou les best-sellers de plage, la littérature de Voltaire et de Rousseau, de Hugo ou même de Sartre, la littérature qui peut et veut changer le monde.Solzhenitsyn is dead, and with him died a certain concept of man and of literature. It was the literature of before the disaster, of before Coelho or Harry Potter or Sulitzer or of best-sellers to be read at the beach; it was the literature of Voltaire and Rousseau, of Hugo, or even of Sartre. It was literature that could change the world, and wanted to.
La littérature des génies et des créateurs, pas celle des 750 nouveaux romans de la rentrée littéraire et des auteures à la mode qui viennent montrer leur derrière ou leur maquillage à la téloche à une heure de plus en plus avancée de la nuit. C’est aussi la littérature qui dérange vraiment, comme celle d’Orwell, de Céline ou de Pirandello, la littérature qui titille les imbéciles et les chiens de garde. Mendiant ingrat comme Bernanos ou Léon Bloy, Soljenitsyne a envoyé paître les démocraties bien-pensantes, pas celle des Grecs ou des républiques italiennes, celles de l’effet de serre et de l’abrutissement planétaire des super-héros.It was the literature of genius and creativity, not that of the 750 new novels of the literary season or of the fashionable authors who come to show their backsides or their made-up faces on the tube at ever-later hours of the night. It is also truly disturbing literature, like that of Orwell, or Céline, or Pirandello. It is literature that titillates imbeciles and guard dogs. An ungrateful peasant like Bernanos or Léon Bloy, Solzhenitsyn sent the right-minded democracies – not that of the Greeks or of the Italian republics, but those of the greenhouse effect and the global mind-numbing effects of superheros – out to pasture.
I am not entirely sure what "la littérature d’avant le désastre" might be alluding to. Might this be a reference to the time "before the fall" of the Soviet Union?

Cheers...

UPDATE: LJer [livejournal.com profile] ethelshai suggests that
"La littérature d'avant le désastre" in the context of this article is a criticism of extreme-contemporary literary works, considered as being rubbish by the author of the article. He says that books by Coelho or the Harry Potter series are almost insults to literature, in a nutshell.
This makes sense, and upon reflection, I think the translation might just stand as-is.
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A notebook of A-LM's French: Level One, my mother's copy, but containing the booklets that were used in my first year's class. After three years of A-LM and a year of indifferent study in high school, I arrived in Mrs. V's class poorly prepared to face the rigors she imposed on her students, prompting her to go so far as to suggest that I had been "severely crippled" in my study of French as a result of the A-LM method.

In looking over the materials, I can see her point. The focus, as I recall, of each unit was the dialog on the first page, which was to be committed to memory, thus providing invaluable knowledge should one ever find oneself on a street in Paris in search of a library (Dis donc, ou est la bibliothèque?), or in a position to tell someone "it" - whatever it was, as long as it was of the feminine grammatical gender - is "straight ahead" (Elle est tout droit.).

There then followed a number of drills, adaptations, and directed activities. Explanations were sparse and terse.

Of course, memorization is an indispensable part of language learning once one has passed the age of about eight. Living in-country, memorization is sugared by the fact that you have to speak the language to survive, as it were, so it's not as if memorization is the purpose of the exercise.

When not living in-country, memorization tends to be a major drag, especially if what you're memorizing tends to not really relate to real life - and try as they might, the A-LM scenarios always smelled slightly of unreality.

As I've mentioned before, one of the most - for me - effective methods of teaching has been that made popular by Michel Thomas. In his method, you are led in small steps to say fairly complex sentences over a short period of time.

Curiously enough, I've run across something called "Synergy Spanish" that takes very much the same approach, claiming that you can speak enough of the language to get by if you master just 138 words.

So far, I've gotten through 10 lessons in my (copious) spare time, and enough seems to be "sticking" - which is the critical part - that I've been actually able to exchange a sentence or two with some of the (many) Spanish-speakers in the area.


More good news. The passbook that I thought I had put away was exactly where I saw it last... it was just that I was looking in another place when I went looking for it!

Cheers...

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