Saturday, February 10, 2007


Yard from call

Margaret's comment puts me in mind that 'court of appeal' is in fact not the literal/word-for-word translation of 'cour d'appel', as defined by Weston, i.e. one which
disregards the collocation of the words, the syntagmatic relations between them which normally determine how the individual words will be rendered (if at all) in a given context
Going by the first entry in the dictionary (Oxford Hachette French-English), cour translates as yard, d'(de) as from, and appel as call. This yields not court of appeal but the rather unconventional yard from call.

Weston/Newmark's point makes sense (at the expense of becoming redundant) if you abandon the notion of word-for-word translation as a method and think of it simply as describing an outcome where the sequence of words in the target language - as determined not by a mechanical, one-word-at-a-time conversion but by the higher-level analysis that Weston himself actually applies - happens to match the sequence of words in the source language (as it frequently does). In such cases the word-for-word match-up is the result of the translation process, it is not itself the process.

By the by, I see that the final entry under 'cour' in the Oxford Hachette is the phrase 'messieurs, la cour' for which the equivalent given is 'all rise'.

I suppose that's what they would classify as a 'functional translation', not that the word 'functional' is really needed there - it suggests there is some other way of doing it.

And, of course, there is - just not another way of doing it well.

At the European Court of Justice, if the case is in French, an official does indeed call out 'La Cour!' when the judges enter the courtroom. If the case is in English he calls out - believe it or not - 'The Court!'.

And everyone stands, on cue. So this is a literal translation that seems to function - saved no doubt by the very context the literal approach purports to eschew.

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