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Q: English-to-French translation ( Answered 4 out of 5 stars,   4 Comments )
Subject: English-to-French translation
Category: Relationships and Society > Cultures
Asked by: archae0pteryx-ga
List Price: $4.53
Posted: 28 Nov 2004 16:40 PST
Expires: 28 Dec 2004 16:40 PST
Question ID: 435249
I need a grammatically perfect, scholarly-sounding translation into
contemporary French of the following fictitious book title:

A Trail of Fiction: The Many Journeys of [name]

That is, there is no such book, but I want to refer to it as if it
were a real book and give its title in French.

Thank you,

Request for Question Clarification by scriptor-ga on 28 Nov 2004 18:06 PST
I would suggest "Un chemin de la fiction: Les nombreux voyages de
[name]". It is grammatically correct, but since I am not a native
speaker of French, I can't say how scholary this would sound in a
Frenchman's ears. So I prefer to provide you this suggestion without
posting it as an answer.

Best regards,

Clarification of Question by archae0pteryx-ga on 28 Nov 2004 19:51 PST
Thanks for the suggestion, Scriptor.  That sounds good to me.  But in
this instance I want a native speaker's positive assurance.  I
wouldn't want a native speaker to be able to detect any false note. 
So I think I'll wait for an answer from a French person.

Subject: Re: English-to-French translation
Answered By: emjay-ga on 29 Nov 2004 13:51 PST
Rated:4 out of 5 stars
Hi archae0pteryx-ga,

Here's the title you're looking for (drum roll, s'il vous plaît!):

Un sentier d'histoires: de nombreux périples de [nom]

It translates most closely to "A path of stories: The many travels of [name]"

I have a strong background in French but don't consider myself fluent,
so I began with my own translation and sent it to two friends, a
Canadian Francophone and a French degree holder, for feedback. What
I've given you above is the result of our collaboration.

I'm confident that this title is the poetic, scholarly, flawlessly
French-fried moniker you're seeking, but if you have any further
questions or require clarification, you know where to find me!


Personal knowledge

Mme Sophie C., produit fier du Nouveau Brunswick (Ms. Sophie C., proud
product of New Brunswick)

Mlle Heather B., ancien étudiante de la littérature française (Miss
Heather B., former French literature student)

All the best!

Request for Answer Clarification by archae0pteryx-ga on 29 Nov 2004 16:14 PST
Thanks, Emjay, and I respect your qualifications and those of your
friends, but "the many travels" isn't right.  It's not like the
(separate, sequential) voyages of Gulliver.  It's almost more like the
language you would use if you were speaking of "the many lives of" a
single person.  Please see my comment to Augusta below.

You sure have nailed my requirements, though:  poetic, scholarly, and flawlessly
French-fried--exactly what I'm seeking.


Clarification of Answer by emjay-ga on 29 Nov 2004 19:25 PST
Hi Archae0pteryx,

Thanks for the clarification! I understand what you're getting at and
hope I can tweak the translation to suit. Here's a suggestion:

Un sentier d'histoires: de nombreuses odyssées de [nom]

This modification translates to "A path of stories: the many odysseys of [name]."

If this still isn't quite what you're looking for, I'm more than
willing to keep trying!


Clarification of Answer by emjay-ga on 29 Nov 2004 19:34 PST
Another option would be to tweak the English version slightly, e.g. "a
trail of fiction: the varying accounts of [name's] journey" - it's
more prosaic but makes the translation more straightforward.

I don't know if this is an option for you, though - if it is, I'll be
happy to hammer out the translation!

Request for Answer Clarification by archae0pteryx-ga on 29 Nov 2004 20:11 PST
Sorry, Emjay, still not there.

It isn't varying accounts.

She's fleeing a long distance, from the southern part of one country
to another across its northern border.  She's very young, she's
escaping danger, and she doesn't want to be tracked or found.  On the
way, hitching rides with countryfolk from market town to market town,
she answers questions and explains her journey by making up one
elaborate fiction after another.  This is in medieval times.

Flash forward now to a scholar reconstructing her real journey by
tracking the patterns of her (highly engrossing and attractively
repeatable) tales as they left their mark on local lore and folktales.
 It would be sort of like tracking the footprints of someone who kept
changing shoes but had a distinctive gait that you could read in the
trail:  you'd look for characteristic distortions in the way the
impressions were made, and you could read them as a sort of signature
among all the other footprints.

We have several layers of fiction here.  The character is fictitious. 
Within her own context, her stories are inventions to cover her
tracks.  The academic who studies her path centuries later is also the
product of my imagination, and hence the title of the scholarly work
is my fabrication.

I really mean "trail" as in track or even spoor, in the sense of being
on the trail of something you are trying to follow or whose movements
you are trying to reconstruct.

"The many journeys" refers to my character's fictitious narratives, as
if each were a journey in its own right, but there are many because
she didn't tell the same tale twice (although there are patterns of
similarity).  But, just as in the expression "the many lives of
so-and-so," there is really only one.  So there is a sense of unity
and multiplicity at the same time.  But none is complete or on an epic
enough scale to warrant the label "odysseys."

Please do not stray too far from my original English version.  I won't
be changing it.  A translator has license to render the sense or feel
of something without hewing to a literal word-for-word equivalent; but
at the same time, it is represented that the original was written in
French and the English is the translation--so the French has to be
very faithful to the conceit in order to support the English
translation I want it to have.

Thank you,

Clarification of Answer by emjay-ga on 30 Nov 2004 12:53 PST
Hello again, Archae0pteryx, and thanks for the additional clarification! 
With more of the backstory to go on, I think I'm on the right track.
This is what my Francophone friend had to say:

"I would suggest 'Une piste d'histoires:  les nombreux périples de ---'
Because in this case, "piste" means -- detectable evidence that
something has passed. Just like the track or trail left by someone.
And "périples", in this case, means voyage consisting of many

My one note would be that you may want to substitute "trajets" for
"périples" - it directly translates to "journeys" and may be more
appropriate for what you're trying to capture - many fictitious
explanations of a single journey rather than actual, multiple travels.

Fingers crossed,

Request for Answer Clarification by archae0pteryx-ga on 30 Nov 2004 16:37 PST
Hi, Emjay,

Thanks for staying with this.  I honestly believed it was going to be
a snap, a one-line response, a top-of-the-head answer for some French
speaker who knew English well enough to render my idea in competent
French without a struggle.  I am quite surprised at how much effort it
is taking.

I'd say we're pretty close now.  But let's spell it out.  If my title
were 'Une piste d'histoires:  les nombreux trajets de ---',

- What would be the literal rendition?
- Is there anything metaphorical in this use of 'piste' and 'trajets,'
and if there is, do they comfortably belong to the same metaphor?
- Does 'histoires' convey the idea of fiction?
- Would not the subtitle begin with an initial cap?

And--before we call it done--could we run it by the literature student?

Merci, merci,

Clarification of Answer by emjay-ga on 01 Dec 2004 06:15 PST
Hi Archae0pteryx,

The literal translation for 'Une piste d'histoires:  les nombreux
trajets de ---' would be 'A track of stories: the many journeys of
[name].' There is nothing metaphorical in the use of 'piste' and
'trajets' - they are used literally in this context.

As mentioned above 'histoires' translates to 'stories,' so 'fiction' is conveyed.

I double-checked with my Francophone source, and she confirmed that
"les" would be lower case. And my other source gives the whole shebang
a thumbs-up!

Thanks for your patience, and I hope this suits!


Request for Answer Clarification by archae0pteryx-ga on 01 Dec 2004 19:04 PST
I'll take it.  That one's convincing.  Nice going, Emjay, and thanks
for your persistence.


Clarification of Answer by emjay-ga on 01 Dec 2004 20:40 PST
Glad to be of help - all the best! :)
archae0pteryx-ga rated this answer:4 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $3.21
It took a while, but we got there.  The solution works for me.

Subject: Re: English-to-French translation
From: probonopublico-ga on 28 Nov 2004 21:46 PST

Do you mean 'A Tale of Friction'?

Much Better Title ... Plus Françaisier.
Subject: Re: English-to-French translation
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 28 Nov 2004 22:24 PST
Hi, Bryan--

That would be another yarn--perhaps one that you'd like to unravel!

This one refers to tracing the progress of a character across a
landscape by analyzing the many fictitious stories she told on her

Subject: Re: English-to-French translation
From: augusta-ga on 29 Nov 2004 05:50 PST
Here's one:
Un chemin tracé d'histoires: les maintes voyages de [nom]

This translates literally as:
A Path Traced with Stories: The Many Voyages of [name]
Subject: Re: English-to-French translation
From: archae0pteryx-ga on 29 Nov 2004 16:07 PST
This one also sounds good to me, Augusta, and I'd say you have the
nuances right, as expressed in your literal translation (the many
journeys, though, not voyages:  the idea is that as she traveled, the
character gave many different accounts of her one journey, all
fictitious, to the people she met along the way, and hence there
seemed to be many instead of one; her real journey was traced by
following the path of her stories).

I must confess that my French is very spotty--some words and phrases,
rudimentary grammar, names, but no systematic study (sorry, Bryan and
Pink, but that's the truth).  So I am not a qualified judge and must
rely on someone with an authentic command of the language as well as
an ear for a formal, polished academic style.  Augusta, are you a
native speaker?

To my question about researcher's languages (#353567), not one GAR
claimed a native command of French, or I'd have addressed my question
to that person.
Thank you,

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