Monday, November 14, 2022

Advanced translation/ Thème M2, agrégation. Passage from Ikor.


 This translation will stay on the blog for two weeks, so do download it if you need it . If you just chanced on the blog, the original passage translated can be found here .




One day the old[2] lady[3] forgot[4] to give the child her lunch ; on another occasion, when she had gone out with her for a little walk, she walked past the house without recognizing it ; then, as Sylvia was tugging at her sleeve, she laughed very loudly, making as if she had pulled off a joke. But the child was not taken in. Then there were odd bursts[5] of affection. Suddenly, without warning, her grandmother would[6] catch hold of her, smother her in a hug, cover the little girl with kisses and then push her away[7] almost brutally. Sylvia, who was a very sensible[8] little girl, dared[9] not admit that she had sometimes been really scared, because you would[10] have to be very silly to be scared of granny, would you not ?[11] But she carried around an unvoiced[12] sense of worry. Apart from this, the old lady was just as alert and lively on a normal day ; people who did not know her well were forever enthusing[13] about how young she seemed…

Ludovic did not seem excessively[14] surprised. In fact, as Germaine had to admit[15], he had been worried for a long time, and she was the one who was refusing to look at reality. She wondered for a moment to what extent his hunger for travel was not partly due to a feeling that they had to hurry to make the most of the old lady’s looking after the child[16] while she was still able. It was a hateful thing to think. Germaine blushed at it and pushed the thought out of her mind, but this kind of suspicion is not so easy to get rid of.

“If you’re still determined to go off travelling,” she said, in a sharper voice than she had intended, “You’ll have to go on your own. I won’t be able to leave Sylvia with your mother any more, even if it were only[17] for a day. I would be too worried”.

“Yes, of course.” said Ludovic, without thinking.

What must he be thinking of, right then? The Verschoop family[18] would love to have Sylvia stay if needed, they were forever blaring on about it[19]. If that was what he had in mind so as to cling on to his precious travelling, well then … Germaine was seething with indignation at the prospect. Even more so because that would mean leaving his mother with the Verschoops as well! Really! The sheer selfishness of this man, or rather of this spoilt child, was beyond the pale. He couldn’t…

“I was just wondering” interrupted Ludovic all of a sudden, “how we could[20] talk Mother into seeing[21] a doctor.” [22]


[2] As you know, to show particular respect or formality, we can use the word « elderly ». But here we are listing the faults of the person, so it is ot appropriate.

[3] Despite the previous note, « old woman » sounds very brutal.

[4] Remember the rules for anteriority are different in English and in French.

[5] There is nothing you can do with the word « crisis » here. It is a word of Greek origin, and therefore in English we are going to use it for serious formal questions “the economic crisis”, “the climate crisis”. If you have a “crise de nerfs” … this might be a nervous “breakdown” – anglo-saxon word for everyday life event.

[6] “Would » is definitely the best option here. « Used to » underlines excessively that the habit no longer exists.

[7] “Away » and not « back » because it is not a matter of returning to a previous position.

[8] Or « level-headed », but certainly not « reasonable ».

[9] You cans say « dared not admit » or « did not dare to admit ». In some contexts these are quite different, but here either is acceptable.

[10] Someone tried with DO reinforcement (You do have to be silly…) but DO does not give the right sort of reinforcement.

[11] Because in this sentence we can, I think, hear the inner voice of the little girl, a contraction might be, very very very exceptionally, acceptable (did you catch that this was exceptional ?). Be careful of word order with « would it not ?».

[12] Or « unspoken »

[13] Or « marvelled » (two l s in British English, only one in American).

[14] « All that surprised » is probably too informal in register. « That surprised » is definitely too informal.

[15] Or “had to give him credit for that ».

[16] Or « the old lady’s help ».

[17] Here we are in an everyday dialogue, so structures with « be it » or similar are too literary in style.

[18] Or “The Verschoops ».

[19] A structure with « shouting from the rooftops » is good, too.

[20] Warning : no inversion of modal and subject here. It is not a direct question, it is a description of a question.

[21] « Undergo a medical examination » is not the appropriate register.

[22] Someone tried « health assessment » but that is far too administrative in style.

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