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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Vol/53 No/4 2014 FEATURES (Mousse) or 'Apprentice' (Apprenti): the latter paid for his articles and worked for five years learning his trade, after which he might be appointed Third Mate; whereas the former was paid a pittance but would be made up to Ordinary Seaman after a year, from where he might be appointed Able Seaman at a higher wage in due course. I initially translated these as Matelot de première et de deuxième classe, following my Collins Robert dictionary, but then realised that there were four ranks in the Marine royale canadienne. However (showing the need to research everything thoroughly), the Canadian Merchant Marine had a different system again. A youth started as Mousse with no option of apprentissage but rose to become le Novice and then Matelot, which seemed the clearest equivalents to Ordinary and Able Seamen. An insight into life on board An interesting facet of the research was a series of Ship's Log Books from which I quoted extensively, as they give a fascinating insight into life on board a wooden sailing ship. 3 They have a distinctive flavour: vivid, immediate, breathless (the Victorians did not bother to punctuate), and I felt it was important to retain something of the original feel. I put these excerpts into the perfect tense, partly to differentiate them and partly to convey the sense of them being written just as events were unfolding. I removed punctuation and renounced complete sentences, though again my primary concern was to produce something comprehensible. I used the 1889 edition of Nautical Terms in English and in French to ensure the vocabulary was authentically in period. 4 A particularly lively passage where the Master, Henry Pinhey, describes how his vessel was damaged by striking a barque, which I was eager to reproduce in full in my book, highlights some of the problems. The Master sets a safe course and goes below to 'wipe the compass'. I couldn't find this phrase in any nautical or non-nautical dictionary but, having researched a similar accident that occurred in the same location, I realised that Captain Pinhey probably meant 'reset the compass'. By analogy with resetting an alarm, this gave pour remettre la boussole. He goes on: To my surprise at about 2.40 I heard the chief mate call out hard starboard when I flew out of the cabin the helm was starboarded but ship did not answer quick enough and about 2.45 we collided with a barque at anchor laying tide rode to the flood tide. Delbos gave me Tribord tout! for 'hard starboard' but I could not find 'laying tide rode' in any dictionary. A nautical friend, Pat Longfield – a life-long sailor, now retired – explained that this meant the vessel was anchored at one end, so that it was swinging on its mooring following the tides. By some creative use of the Larousse online dictionary, I discovered that the French word was évitage and finally settled on the following, which is a little clumsy but clear: on est entré en collision avec une barque qui évitait sous l'effet du flot. The vessels collided, causing damage to The City of Ottawa and some unidentified harm to the other ship, but Captain Pinhey did not stop (a sailing ship has no brakes and the anchor takes a long time to drop). When the state of his vessel was assessed he found: 'our foreyard gone in two in the slings gear hanging all foul… at the Brandy Pots sent down the foreyard and commenced to scathe it'. Initially, the first half of this was impenetrable to me, but according to the website, a 'sling' is a wire for supporting a yard, which is the horizontal spar from which a sail is hung. The 'gear' is the rigging, which, if it is 'foul', is entangled. Although the Collins Robert gives cravate for 'sling' (in a nautical context), Debros gives élingue. However, this is a 'false friend' as it applies to the sling of a hoist. After much puzzling over a Victorian rigging plan, quoted in Marcil, 5 with the aid of a magnifying glass, I found the correct word was balancine. This gave me: le vergue de misaine fendue en deux aux balancines le gréement suspendu tout embrouillé. Next was 'scathe'. The English dictionary defines 'to scathe' as 'to hurt, harm or injure, especially by fire', and it can be used metaphorically to imply scouring or scorching, but I could find no specifically nautical application. Sailing ships carried their own carpenter – on this voyage one John S Soper, a 33-year-old man from Totnes. The priority would be to mend the timber and get underway, but some derivative of scouring or scorching seemed an extreme measure. Then it occurred to me that, as the good Master came from Plymouth, the word might represent a West Country pronunciation of 'scarf': to join two pieces of wood together using a scarf joint. This gave me: a fait descendre la vergue de misaine et a commencé à la joindre en biseau. The entire project has been intensely time- consuming but extremely rewarding, and I am now looking forward to my next Victorian maritime translation assignment. Notes 1 Samuel, J, 2012, The 'City of Ottawa': The story of a sailing ship; 2014, Le 'City of Ottawa': l'histoire d'un grand voilier en bois, Penlan Publishing, 2 Marcil, E R, 2000, On chantait 'Charley-Man'. La construction de grands voiliers à Québec de 1763 à 1893, Les Éditions GID 3 Surviving Crew Lists and Log Books, the Devon Heritage Centre, ref: 1976/City of Ottawa/36640 4 Delbos, L, 1889, Nautical Terms in English and in French, Williams and Norgate 5 Marcil, op cit, p.309 They have a distinct flavour: immediate, vivid, breathless. And I felt it was important to retain the original feel MARITIME CONCERNS Rhyl Harbour (left); Judith's painting of the ship (top); and copies of The 'City of Ottawa' (above) AUGUST/SEPTEMBER The Linguist 25

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