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Fourth ProZ.com Translation Contest

French to English


Finalists:11

Source text:

Pour ma mère que je n’avais pas vue depuis ma naissance, le séjour de La Rochelle fut aussi l’occasion de la découvrir en entier.  Je ne laissai pas, d’abord, d’être surprise qu’elle ne m’eût embrassée que deux fois, et seulement au front, après cette séparation assez longue ; encore ne devinais-je pas que ces deux baisers seraient les seules que je recevrais d’elle en ma vie.  Je la trouvais aigre dans ses propos et impatientée des rires inconsidérés qui me prenaient devant les fantaisies de mes frères.   « Décidément cette enfant n’est pas belle, dit-elle un jour devant moi à mon frère Constant, elle n’a que des yeux ; ils lui mangent la figure ; c’est une démesure fort ridicule».

Ce ne fut, cependant, que quelques jours après mon arrivée que ma réserve à son endroit devint une franche aversion : ce changement vint de la manière dont elle crut me devoir mener à l’église.  Je n’avais jamais entendu la messe mais je sentais plus de curiosité que d’hostilité et, bien que je fusse allée parfois au prêche avec les Villette, je ne me croyais pas huguenote.  Ma mère me mena à l’église comme elle m’eût menée au cachot : avec des menaces et une poigne serrée sur ma main.  Je n’étais pas naturellement docile et ma nature comportait un fond de rébellion que l’usage de la force réveillait.  Ma mère parvint, par sa méthode, à ce beau résultat que, sitôt que je fus dans l’église, je tournai le dos à l’autel.  Elle me donna un soufflet ; je le portai avec un grand courage, me sentant glorieuse de souffrir pour ma religion.  A l’égard de la messe, cette résistance ne dura pas car elle était sans fondement, mais je ne revins jamais de l’aversion pour ma mère que fit naître cette aventure.


Entry #1600 - Points: 14 - WINNER!
Rowan Morrell
I had not seen my mother since I was born, so the stay in La Rochelle was also an opportunity for me to get to know her properly.  At first, I couldn't help but be surprised that she merely kissed me twice, and then only on my forehead, after all this time apart. Nor could I have guessed that those two kisses would be the only ones I would receive from her in my life. She spoke in harsh tones and was clearly irritated by my thoughtless laughter at the stories my brothers told. "She really Show full text

Entry #1655 - Points: 8
Joy Lewis
My stay in La Rochelle also provided the opportunity to really get to know my mother whom I had not seen since my birth. First of all, I never ceased to be amazed at the fact that she kissed me only twice, and just on my forehead, after such a long separation. Neither would I have imagined that those two kisses would be the only ones I would receive from her my entire life. I found her to be bitter and irritated by my fits of thoughtless laughter at my brothers’ foibles. “That is definitely not Show full text

Entry #1796 - Points: 8
Anonymous
Not having seen my mother since birth, the visit to La Rochelle was also the chance to get to know her better.  At first I was a bit surprised that after such a long separation she only kissed me twice, just on the forehead.  Little did I know that those two kisses would be the only ones I would ever get from her in my life.  I found her embittered when she spoke and irritated by my ill-considered guffaws at my brothers' made-up stories.  "That child is obviously Show full text

Entry #2206 - Points: 6
Carolingua
As for my mother, whom I had not seen since birth, the stay at La Rochelle was also a chance for me to know her more completely. At first, I could not get over my surprise that after this rather long separation she had kissed me just twice, and only on the forehead at that; even so I could not have guessed these two kisses would be the only ones I was to receive from her in my entire life.  I found her to be bitter in her remarks and annoyed with the irrepressible laughter that overtook Show full text

Carolingua
I enjoyed translating this challenging text! First of all, congratulations to Rowan! I capitalized the word "mass", which may or may not be correct, any thoughts? I interpreted the author to be referring to Catholic mass, and making a distinction between the Catholic church (which her mother was taking her to) and the Huguenot (Protestant) church, which she occasionally went to with the Villettes. Given this, I didn't think it would be necessary to specify "Protestant" church, particularly since I then left the author's comment that she did not consider herself a Huguenot. Most English-speakers may not know the history of Huguenots, but I thought they would be able to surmise that Huguenots are Protestants from the context. However, I'm not an expert on religion, which made this a difficult judgement call to make.
Entry #2272 - Points: 5
Anonymous
My mother, whom I had not seen since I was born, believed that this visit to La Rochelle would be the opportunity to become fully acquainted with her. At the beginning, I could not get over the fact that, despite such a long separation, she had only kissed me twice, and only on the forehead. Little did I know at the time that these two kisses would be the only ones she would give me during my entire life. When she spoke, her comments were bitter, and when my brothers' silliness made me laugh, my Show full text

Entry #1619 - Points: 3
Anonymous
My stay in La Rochelle was an opportunity to get to know my mother whom I had not seen since my birth. At first, I tried not to be surprised that she kissed me just twice, and only on the forehead, after this rather long separation. Yet I had no idea idea that those two kisses would be the only ones I was to receive from her in my life. I found she spoke bitterly and was irritated by my mindless laughter at my brothers' antics. "Really, this child is no beauty", she once said in front of me to my Show full text

Entry #1882 - Points: 2
Anonymous
I had not seen my mother since my birth and my stay at La Rochelle was also the opportunity for me to discover her completely. At the beginning, I could not get over my surprise at the fact that she only kissed me twice, and then only on the forehead, after a fairly long separation- but I could never have guessed that those two kisses would be the only ones she would give me in my whole life. To me, she seemed full of bitterness when she spoke and impatient with my inconsiderate laughter at my brothers' Show full text

Entry #1984 - Points: 2
Sarah Llewellyn
Not having seen my mother since the day I was born, the sojourn at La Rochelle was therefore the chance to discover everything about her. It did not fail to surprise me, at first, that after this relatively lengthy separation she would kiss me only twice, and just on the forehead; then again, I could not have guessed that these two kisses would be the only ones I would ever receive from her. I found her bitter in her remarks and irritated by my sudden, indiscriminate laughter at my brothers’ caprices. Show full text

Entry #2332 - Points: 2
Richard Robinson
I had not seen my mother since my birth, and the time spent at La Rochelle was, in her regard too, a chance to discover things more fully. I did not, initially, allow myself to be surprised that after this rather long separation she touched me only twice, and only on the forehead; I did not yet imagine that these two kisses would be the only ones I was to receive from her all my life. I detected bitterness in her remarks, and her impatience toward the inconsiderate laughter to which I fell prey at Show full text

Entry #1645 - Points: 0
Thomas Weber
As to the mother I had not laid eyes on since I was born, my stay in La Rochelle also gave me a chance to find out all about her.  She surprised me right away when, after our rather long separation, she kissed me exactly twice and merely on the forehead.  Little did I know these would be the only kisses I would ever get from her in my lifetime.  She often made cutting remarks or became annoyed with me for laughing too hard at my brothers’ antics.  “The Show full text

Entry #2030 - Points: 0
Anonymous
For my mother, whom I hadn't seen since birth, the stay in La Rochelle was also the opportunity to discover it fully.  First of all, I couldn't get over my surprise that she had kissed me only twice and on my forehead alone, after a fairly long separation.  I didn't yet know that those two kisses would be the only ones I would receive from her in my life.  I found her to be bitter and impatient with the impetuous laughter that overcame me at my brothers' escapades.  "This Show full text

Feedback - Fourth ProZ.com Translation Contest
This space is provided for feedback and suggestions about the contest in this particular language pair.
As we have already planned, this feature is now open to all members (full, community and student members).
Rowan Morrell
No one seems to have anything to say in this pair, so I'll say something to fill in the "dead air". First of all, I am naturally delighted and thrilled that my entry was judged the winning one. Secondly, I thought this text was interesting not only for its subject matter, but also the fact that it was the only one of the five texts written from a child's perspective (albeit perhaps a fairly adult "child") rather than a parent's. So that added a different angle. I must say that the mother in the story makes Joan Crawford of "Mommy Dearest" seem almost saintly!

The word I puzzled over the most was "huguenote". At first, I actually translated it literally as Huguenot, but then changed my mind and opted for Protestant, and I see that most other entrants did the same. I kind of assumed the target audience would be one of average English speakers who might not know too much about the Huguenots and their religious beliefs. I also assumed that the story was set in fairly modern times. If the story had been set in the period of the 16th or 17th Centuries, with the historical background established, Huguenot would have definitely been the way to go. But for a more modern setting, Protestant seemed the more appropriate cultural translation.

Anyway, I believe Jenny Forbes wrote this text, so many thanks to Jenny for setting such a challenging and interesting piece, and well done to everyone who made it to the final round.
enowtakuem
Congratulations to you Rowan. Maybe that's why the translation contest is so much interesting after all. It's always interesting to see that such a text piece can be tackled from many angles and as such there is always room to learn about the true nature of our trade. I for one, I simply went over board this time around: maybe i looked too far and lose my mind. Keep up the effort !

Enowtakuem
enowtakuem
By the way, you were my third best Rowan ! Just found out now....
B D Finch
I missed the competition and, just for my own interest, translated the test piece myself before reading the entries - discovering that it was harder than it had seemed at first sight.

Congratulations to Rowan on a fluent translation.

I would choose to leave "Huguenot". Being a Londoner, I am aware of the Huguenot refugees who settled in the East End and I think the word evokes this episode of French history in a way that "protestant" does not.
Carolingua
Congratulations to all, especially to Rowan of course, and thanks to the entire ProZ community for this opportunity to hone our skills! I welcome your feedback on my translation; I'm hoping to learn something from it.


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