Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Adaptation is more than translating/ L'adaptation dépasse la traduction

In 1982, Tom Peters and Robert Waterman wrote the influential book "In search of excellence" which created new approaches to business. The book served as an inspiration to many companies and its title was used for many different programs aimed at improving sales.

When GM used the title as a tagline, a challenge presented itself for the Quebec market. A translator will always look for the "official" rendering of a book in another language. I thus discovered that the book had been translated in France by "Excellence intégrale".

It was thus decided that this tagline would be used on nametags connected with this particular sales activity. I remember witnessing the meeting of two sales people, one English and one French: the French one looked at his colleague's nametag and said "you are still looking for excellence, we have found it"!

This is a typical example of the French "way of seeing things", usually as a final result, not as a process. As long as the two titles are not set side by side, each one is ok. Side by side, they can create misunderstandings.

C'est pour cette raison que lors de l'élaboration d'un slogan pour le Québec, je le crée toujours à côté de l'anglais, pour m'éviter des surprises comme L'excellence intégrale. Ainsi, pour un récent client, j'ai trouvé l'équivalent suivant :

XX company delivers more than ideas, we deliver results

La XXX : plus que des idées, des résultats

Notez la disparition des verbes et du "we".

Pour indiquer que les clients du client sont également ceux du propriétaire du site Web, j'ai modulé

ABCD: Recognized by your customers


ABCD : Vos clients sont nos clients!

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