Friday, February 26, 2010

French to English: Olympic Souvenirs, Part 1

The Winter Olympics is close to ending - I believe closing ceremonies will be this Sunday - and we've had extensive coverage about winners and losers, victories and tragedies and phenomenal artistry and showmanship.  Canada did a good job, despite a few hiccups, and support for the athletes was - to use a teen term - "awesome."

I went to the online edition of Paris Match magazine and I found a survey it carried out among 1,907 readers on their views of the Olympic Games.
I'll reproduce it here:


Pour vous, les Jeux Olympiques sont...

  • 38% - l'illustration du pire du sport business.
  • 33% - un grand évènement sportif à suivre à la télévision.
  • 29% - un beau rendez-vous humain et fraternel.
(source:, February 13, 2010)

Translating that, we have:

In your opinion, the Olympic Games are:
(a) an illustration of the worst in the business of sports - 38%
(b)  a great athletic event to watch on television - 33%
(c)  a beautiful, human, and fraternal union of people - 29%

Notice that the French version has the percentage first while the English has it at the end.  That's just my personal preference.  There is no translation rule that states where the percentages should appear.

Pretend you're in Vancouver's Olympic Village and you received a gift certificate to spend it any way you like.  You go into a store that sells a variety of Olympic paraphernalia.  You carry on a conversation with the sales clerk who happens to be a bilingual Canadian.

Your conversation would probably go something like this  (you're "X" and the sales clerk is "Y":)

X:  Bonjour, je cherche des souvenirs olympiques.

Hello, I’m looking for some Olympic souvenirs.
Y: Nous avons toute une collection. Désirez-vous regarder ce que nous avons?We’ve got quite a collection. Would you like to see what we have?
X:  Non, ça va. Je vais juste regarder autour du magasin, si cela ne vous dérange pas.No, that’s okay. I’ll just look around the store if you don’t mind.
Y:  Pas du tout. Faites-moi savoir si vous avez des questions.Not at all. Let me know if you have any questions.
X:  Est-ce que ce chandail est lavable en machine?Is this sweater machine-washable?
Y:  Non, il est fait de laine à 80 %. Le nettoyage-à-sec est donc recommandé.No. It is made with 80% wool so dry-cleaning is recommended.
X:  Oh, j’adore cette affiche!Oh, I love that poster!
Y:  Tout le monde l’aime bien. J’ai vendu plus de 50 dans la première semaine.Everyone loves it. I sold more than 50 in the first week.
X:  Combien est-elle?How much is it?
Y:  L’affiche pour les jeux paralympiques coûte 150 $ et celle des jeux olympiques et paralympiques coûte 289 $.The Paralympic poster costs $150.00 and that of the Paralympic and Olympic Games costs $289.00.
X:  Je prendrai deux affiches paralympiques et cette collection de cuillère en étain.I’ll take two Paralympic posters and this pewter spoon collection set.
Y:  Souhaitez-vous les envoyer par la poste? Nous vous offrons un service de courrier. Would you like these items mailed? We offer mailing services.
X:  Non, merci, je vais les prendre avec moi dans l’avion. Nous partons demainNo, thank you. I’ll take them with me on the plane. We’re leaving tomorrow.
Y:  Très bien, madame. Donnez-moi quelques minutes et je vais les emballer pour vous.Very well madam. Give me a few minutes and I’ll wrap them for you.
X:  Merci.  Thank you.

For our next post, we'll take a look at some more Olympic souvenirs!

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