The Linguist

The Linguist 53,4

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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24 The Linguist AUGUST/SEPTEMBER FEATURES When Judith Samuel was asked to translate her own book about a Victorian sailing ship into French, the old Québécois nautical terms presented a major challenge I n 2011, I received an Arts Council Wales grant to carry out research into an old wooden sailing ship whose remains are still visible in Rhyl Harbour, North Wales. After two years of intensive research, I eventually published the results in a book entitled The 'City of Ottawa'. 1 The ship was built in Quebec, in the Francophone region of Eastern Canada, where there is a great interest in maritime history. A local publisher, Éditions GID, agreed to publish the book, but alarmingly they asked me to produce a first manuscript in French, for them to edit into a polished version. They gave me six months. It was a daunting prospect. I have the CIOL Postgraduate Certificate in Translation Studies but this is in French to English, my native language. I set out to produce a text that conveyed the information without ambiguity, aiming for accuracy rather than style, and began by running it through Google Translate. The first considerations were grammatical: the tense is past historic, but did the 1990 reform of French orthography apply to Canadian French? It generally did, and the Grand dictionnaire terminologique provided further information on words specific to Quebec. My book contains specialised maritime vocabulary. Although I have professional expertise in historical research, my only knowledge of sailing was gained by spending a few days on a modern, full-rigged sailing ship. I had been careful only to make statements I could substantiate, but I had quoted authorities in English without necessarily understanding every word. When translating, I had to understand everything. A great resource was the book on Quebec historic shipbuilding by Eileen Reid Marcil, 2 the leading authority in the field, which luckily I had bought in the cheaper French edition. This provided vocabulary for the technical aspects of shipbuilding, for instance with regard to materials ('rock elm' = orme liège) and construction ('carvel built' = à franc bord, the superior method where the planks on the sides of the ship are laid flush with each other; as opposed to 'clinker built' = bordage à clins, where they overlap). Another issue was that of job titles. In the British system, a lad could start as 'Boy' Shipshape in French

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