Saturday, November 18, 2017


No class next Wednesday...

Monday, November 13, 2017

Suggested translation Fontanel

Suggested translation from L’Homme Barbelé by Béatrice Fontanel. [1]
 We arrived at the mountain hut where the summering sheep were huddled[2] so closely one against another in the scree[3] that from a distance[4] they looked like maggots. We were watching[5] our steps on the narrow path, which was lined with houseleeks of an almost lascivious[6] pink colour. The aim was to avoid the bodies, like children are careful not to walk on the cracks between paving stones,[7] otherwise you die or something of the sort.[8] Make sure not to step on the nick, place your[9] foot right in the centre of the paving stone, taking inordinately[10] long steps if you have to. But carrying your kit[11], even if you have made it lighter … if you cannot go on…if you lose the rhythm … the bodies were not evenly spaced. At times there were several in the same spot, or some of the bodies were spread about, with pieces scattered here and there. And then we did not know any longer which way we had to run. “Pour me a glass of white wine[12], don’t ask questions.[13]” “Pour me another one”.[14] But if in the end you did have[15] to walk on a fellow soldier, because that is what war is like, where is it best to land your great hobnailed boots, designed for long hikes[16] and treading on bodies? Yes, what would be the lesser evil? Should you aim for his[17] back ? Is it better to step on his shoulder blade[18], with its fan-like shape? Or on his buttocks? his hips (They are the most beautiful of the bones)? Or are the thighs better? The thigh, yes, best to choose the thigh.
When one walks on a body,[19] it does not make a lot of noise, it is springy, it says nothing or just moans a little. Where should you step so as[20] to keep moving forward? So as not to trip up, so as to survive, walking on it so as to stay alive?
But we must not have had the time to choose. It was only afterwards that we were to think[21] over the whole thing.



 Résultat de recherche d'images pour "cobblestones"

Paving stones

[1] You can find a review of this, her first novel, here : http://towardgrace.blogspot.fr/2010/05/la-moelle-et-le-fer.html
[2] Not « cuddled » (which is too câlin). « Squashed » is just about possible.
[3] Or « stony paths ».
[4] Not « from the distance » : we are not referring to a specific distance.
[5] Not « we looked at », which would only be possible if they were not moving. The BE +ING is necessary to underline thatthis is a background activity while they advanced.
[6] There is also the word « lubricious », which is rarer. Someone put « indecent » which is very good. « Lewd » is fine too. Words like « lecherous »  or « ‘lustful » would tend to imply intention, and therefore do not fit.
[7] You cannot play this game on cobblestones, unless you have extremely small feet.
[8] Think of the Lancashire childrens’ rhyme “If you stand on a nick, you’ll marry a stick, and a beetle will come to your wedding”.!
[9] It is best, in this passage, to use « we » only for the main narrative about the soldiers, and to find another option for the thread concerning children.
[10] One could just say « really », but one might think the register wrong for démésurément.
[11] This is the usual military term. « Kit bag » is also possible, but « bundle » is not appropriate. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kXcs1Vv3YlE

[12] Britain has mess of a wine culture than France ; especially in working class culture, so it is best to add the word « wine », which i snot necessary in French.
[13] « Ask no questions » is too literary for dialogue.
[14] I think what we have here is the same person taking a second drink. « Tu me remettras » is not a description of a future act, it is a masked informal imperative.
[15] This is a good tiem to revise emphatic auxiliary forms and their precise uses.
[16] There are (at least) three ways of going for longish perambulations in the countryside : in order of increasing exertion they are rambling, hiking and climbing. (Although sometimes « rambling » has a wider sense, see here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jv0OPOZBWxI
[17] It is best to use the possessive adjective and not say « the back » , although the latter is not impossible.
[18] « Scapula » is too technical a register. A good time to revise the everyday and the technical words for bones. Are you sure you can identify the shinbone, the collarbone, the breastbone, the femur and the fibula, for example ?
[19] Note that it is impossible to use a « double subject » structure in English. « Un corps, ça ne fait pas trop de bruit » cannot translate as «  A corpse, it …. » . In the same way « Mon frère, il adore Picasso » is NOT *« My brother, he loves Picasso ».
[20] Here, as often, a structure with the « infinitive with to » is not sufficient to mark the purposive content. « So as to » is best. « In order to » is generally overused by students in France : it suggests an administrative tone, which is not appropriate here.
[21] Note that the author is not speaking of a later obligation, but of a later event which is not modalized, so « had to » is not correct.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Historiography seminar

Watch this video about the first day of the war.


I will be asking you on Wednesday what you thought of it, and in particular if it corresponded to your image if the work which First World War historians do .

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Séminaire historiographie et première guerre

Aujourd'hui mercredi, 15h à 17h, salle M225 (bâtiment de la Brosse)

Monday, November 06, 2017

Master 1 recherche: historiographie et la première guerre

Have a look at this book review in French which takes up a number of questions concerning what historians do:

Book review of Richard Evans

The Labour Party 1980-2015

Although everyone knows a little about Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, most people know little about his past. This long article is easy to read and very useful


The Queen is in the papers

Just here


Saturday, November 04, 2017

wednesday morning translation class

Be careful: next Wednesday at 9am the class is in L210, not in the "salle du conseil".

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Thème Master 2 recherche

The second year research master students were told to attend the first six sessions of thème for agrégation, and this counts as their module "lecture de textes scientifiques" (don't ask). The marking of this module is done via an exam in January. The standard demanded is not as high as that of the agrégation.

I believe you now have other classes on Wednesday mornings, but any student who does not have, and is willing, is of course welcome to continue attending the translation classes.

If you are M2 students who are intending to prepare the agrégation next year, probably the most important thing this year is to read and listen to a very large amount of English indeed. Also, your closest friends should be jealous of the amount of time you spend with your grammar book. 

Suggested translation : extract from Ndiaye

Suggested translation of passage from Marie N’Diaye

I wrote my mother a letter full of fake cheerfulness; I pretended to believe her and congratulated her, was so pleased for her. She answered straightaway and asked me to come to her home in Marseilles. She said nothing about my children, didn’t ask about the health of any of them (she didn’t know about the baby which is on the way). I could tell it was my mother’s handwriting: the dots on the I s are outsized circles, and every sentence contains several surprising mistakes, which are somehow original, all hers. She suggested I should come to see her for Christmas Day, and practically ordered me to do so,[1] saying that right after she would be away visiting her husband’s family. The word upset me terribly. It absolutely cannot fit my mother,[2] that plump[3] woman, her face surrounded by the grey edge of her headscarf, with her hollow, yellow cheeks and her thick black plastic glasses. How could that rigid and desperate woman who had never so much as pronounced the name of any man since my father left, that woman who was so withdrawn, now be talking of her husband? And of a child? I worked out how old she was: forty seven. It might be possible, but it wasn’t at all believable. And wasn’t it somewhat rude[4] to ask me to come for Christmas, on my own, and say nothing of her grandchildren, as if all of a sudden she didn’t have any any more, or no longer acknowledged their existence.
Two days before Christmas, there I was on my way to Marseilles. We had arranged that my mother pick me up at Saint Charles station and as I was waiting on the platform, tired, heavy and almost unable to move, thinking she must have forgotten we were to meet up, or that the whole story was so unlikely that it couldn’t end with my real mother actually turning up, I saw a smiling woman coming towards me who was wearing my mother’s unsightly glasses. A man was following behind her, and in the arms of this man[5] was a little girl.

[1] = “practically left me no choice”.
[2] = It was completely at odds with who my mother was.
[3] “Chubby” is usually reserved for babies or children.
[4] “Out of order” is possible, but probably too slangy.