LITERAL, OR DIRECT, TRANSLATION / TRADUCTION LITTÉRALE OU DIRECTE


To each English word of the sentence to be translated, corresponds a French word of a similar nature in the translation :

- What time is it? : Quelle heure est-il ?

- He had always dreamed of going to Ireland : Il avait toujours rêvé d'aller en Irlande

Such word-for-word translation is seldom to be found as English and French syntaxes are far apart. A verbatim translation is valid only if the target language retains the same syntax, meaning and style as the source language.

Translating literally into French often results in a faulty "calque" :

- Her father was a writer : Son père était un écrivain (instead of Son père était écrivain)

(but Her father was a well-known writer : Son père était un écrivain connu)

- the State Department (US) : le Département d'Etat (instead of le Ministère américain des affaires étrangères)

- Chicago, Illinois : Chicago, Illinois (instead of Chicago, dans l'Illinois)

- the man in the street : l'homme dans la rue (instead of l'homme de la rue or, as the case may be, le Français / l'Anglais moyen, etc.)

EXERCISE

Translate literally the following sentence into French.

1/ The bitter winds of western civilisation blew James Cook to the shores of Australia in 1768, but the gale erupted in 1788 with the arrival of the First Fleet (AM 94) :

2/ This train arrives at the station at ten :

3/ the Medical Research Council's Applied Psychology Unit :

4/ I left my glasses on the table downstairs :

5/ Facts are stubborn :

ANSWERS


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